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5th March

Deuteronomy 32-34; Psalm 64

Bible in a Year
6 minutes
In this article
5th March

Deuteronomy 32-34; Psalm 64

Bible in a Year
6 minutes


So far in Deuteronomy, we’ve read through the beginning of Moses’ sermons to the new generation of Israelites. We noted how the perspective shifts, so now it seems like the narrator is looking back at this time in Israel’s history from their future and from the other side of the river.

We read as Moses recapped how the Israelites got here from Egypt, reminding the people where they've come from and what God has done.

He then moved on to his sermons, challenging the Israelites to avoid idolatry and to follow the Lord's command. He reminded the people that they are a chosen people. Not because of their might or righteousness, but because of his faithfulness and goodness. They were to be obedient if they wanted to experience his blessings.

And so Moses moved on to recap and restating the laws, starting with Israel’s worship. They were to avoid idolatry, dealing harshly with those who suggested otherwise. They were to continue in ritual purity, and in practices like the tithe. Justice was to be a key part of their worship. They were to look after the poor and to judge rightly.

This led us to the instructions guiding Israel's leaders; judges, priests, kings, and prophets. We looked at some of the criteria and guidelines for these leaders.

We then started the final section of Deuteronomy's laws, looking at its civil laws. We read through rules on the cities of refuge and laws concerning warfare. This was followed by a broad collection of different rules, from handling unsolved murders, rules to protect women, dealing with lost animals and disobedient sons, and more ending with ritual instructions for the tithe.

Then we moved in to the final section of Deuteronomy, Moses' final sermon to the people. Moses reminded the people that obedience leads to blessings but disobedience leads to curses. Blessings meant flourishing, but curses meant God making an example of them so that the other nations might learn from their mistakes.

Yet Moses till provided hope. Even if the Israelites fully turn away from God and lost everything, enslaved in a foreign land. If after all that they turned back to God and submitted to him he would restore them and make them flourish.

Deuteronomy 32-34

Having passed on his leadership to Joshua, Moses now sings the people a song that they will hopefully remember when they been sent into exile for turning from God. This song is a based on this knowledge that one day Israel is going to turn their backs on God and he is going to send a nation to conquer them and take them into exile.

Moses starts with a call to both heaven and earth to listen to his song. God is good and just, but his people have treated him poorly.

Moses points out how God has blessed and supported Israel. In this part of the song we get the verse that gives us some of our understanding of what happened at the tower of Babel. Moses encourages the people to remember the days of old when,

When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, when he divided mankind, he fixed the borders of the peoples according to the number of the sons of God. But the Lord’s portion is his people, Jacob his allotted heritage.

Deuteronomy 32:8-9

In this we say that God divided up humanity, ‘according to the number of the sons of God’. We’ve talked about the sons of God were key spiritual beings in God’s court.

The idea is that God divided up humanity and spread them, but other spiritual beings in his court responsibility over them. But as for God, his responsibility were to Jacob. The people of Israel.

So if back in Genesis 11 you were wondering where this idea of God disinheriting the nations to other spiritual beings came from, this is one of the key places we look at.

Moses then points out how Israel has been faithless. He uses the name ‘Jeshurun’ which is another name for Israel. It’s used three time in Deuteronomy 32-33 and then once in Isaiah 44:2.

Israel, in their prosperity got greedy and looked at things outside of God for their pleasure. So God heaps disaster on his people.

But eventually he will turn that punishment on their enemies and rescue them from exile. Praise God for avenging his people.

After finishing his song Moses encourages the people one last time to remember it and to be obedient. These aren't empty words, but are life to them.

Sadly, just as Moses finishes giving them these words of life God comes and tells Moses it's his time to die.

Before going Moses gives one last speech, a list of blessings for each of the tribes of Israel. Moses has spent his whole life challenging and disciplining these people.

But now as he's about to die he gets to speak out his hope for them and their future. This intentionally mirrors Genesis 49 where Jacob gave a blessing to each of his sons on his deathbed.

And then Moses climbs up a mountain, looks out at the land that the people are about to enter, and breathes his last breath. Moses' story ends here.

In Genesis we see creation, the fall, and the rise of Abraham and his family as they grow and end up in Egypt. Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy have all been about Moses leading the people out of Egypt, teaching them how to live as the people of God, and preparing them to enter the new land promised to them.

The question going forward, was it all worth it? Are the people going to listen and obey? Are they going to love God and be committed to him? Can their hearts ever be softened enough to make these things possible?

These are the questions the Torah intentionally ends leaving open. These are the questions that the rest of the Bible are going to answer.

Psalm 64

This psalm is attributed to king David and falls into the category of lament psalm.

A) Psalm 64:1-2 - Prayer for protection

B) Psalm 64:3 - The tongues of the wicked

C) Psalm 64:4 - The wicked shoot suddenly

D) Psalm 65:5-6 - The wicked plot

C) Psalm 64:7 - God shoots the wicked suddenly

B) Psalm 64:8 - The tongues of the wicked turn against them

A) Psalm 64:9-10 - Rejoice in God’s protection

The psalmist starts with a call to God to hear them and protect them. It’s a simple request.

But then comes the complaints. There are wicked who seek evil towards the psalmist.

Once more we see the mouth described as a weapon. Here it is the tongue, as the wicked use their words to lie and stir up trouble.

If their words are like arrows, the wicked shoot these arrows at the blameless, trying to defeat them. Their whole goal is injustice, looking how they can lay traps for innocent people to fall into.

In this the psalmist makes an incredible statement. “For the inward mind and heart of a man are deep.” (Psalm 64:6).

Here the psalmist is exploring the depths of what it means to be human, that we can treat one another like this. That with fore planning and intent we can so revel in injustice.

But then the psalmist turns to trust. Just as the wicked might shoot arrows suddenly, God will shoot arrows at them suddenly and wound them.

While the wicked might have wielded their tongues like weapons, those same tongues are going to be their downfall.

And so the psalmist encourages people to fear God but also ponder. Reflect as they did on what in human nature can bring someone to a point where they plan someone else’s downfall. How can we weed that out of our own lives?

And so the psalmist ends with a focus on God. Let all that are righteous rejoice in God and find security in him.

While this psalm is a lament psalm, it also leads us to reflect on human nature and the nature of wickedness. This, in turn, should cause us to reflect inside and what wickedness and injustice do we need to weed out.

Anything you think I've missed? Maybe you've got a question that still needs answering. Send me a message over on my Instagram (@brynjoslin). I'd love to talk it through with you some more.

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