Deuteronomy 32


The last verse of the previous chapter, Deuteronomy 31:30, should be the introduction to the song of Moses recorded in this chapter. The song was to be memorised by the nation and sung while they were in their homes, Ephesians 5:19 / Colossians 3:16.

Moses’ song can be divided into three parts.

The Song Of Moses

‘Listen, you heavens, and I will speak; hear, you earth, the words of my mouth. Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants. I will proclaim the name of the LORD. Oh, praise the greatness of our God! He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he. They are corrupt and not his children; to their shame they are a warped and crooked generation. Is this the way you repay the LORD, you foolish and unwise people? Is he not your Father, your Creator, who made you and formed you? Remember the days of old; consider the generations long past. Ask your father and he will tell you, your elders, and they will explain to you. When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, when he divided all mankind, he set up boundaries for the peoples according to the number of the sons of Israel. For the LORD’s portion is his people, Jacob his allotted inheritance. In a desert land he found him, in a barren and howling waste. He shielded him and cared for him; he guarded him as the apple of his eye, like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them aloft. The LORD alone led him; no foreign god was with him. He made him ride on the heights of the land and fed him with the fruit of the fields. He nourished him with honey from the rock, and with oil from the flinty crag, with curds and milk from herd and flock and with fattened lambs and goats, with choice rams of Bashan and the finest kernels of wheat. You drank the foaming blood of the grape.’ Deuteronomy 32:1-14

Song Of Moses Part 1

As we begin this chapter, I think it’s important to note that the Exodus both begins and ends with a Song of Moses, Exodus. 15:1-18 / Psalm 90.

Moses begins his song by doing three things.

1. Moses calls all of creation to hear and listen to the song.

2. He defines his words as divine nourishment that makes things grow healthy.

3. He commands all creation to ‘praise the greatness of God’.

The heavens and the earth are called upon to give witness to the covenant between God and Israel. The teaching of God brings forth fruit when it falls on contrite hearts, Isaiah 55:10-11.

He says that God is the Rock, in other words, God is the stability of Israel and for all who will conform to His teachings, Matthew 7:24-27. The term, ‘Rock’, relating to God, appears several times in this song, Deuteronomy 32:13 / Deuteronomy 32:15 / Deuteronomy 32:18 / Deuteronomy 32:30-31.

His teachings are perfect because they’re the reflection of His perfect character. Jacob had ascribed the rock-like identity to God, Genesis 49:24, by referring to him as a ‘stone’.

David often referred to God as a Rock, 2 Samuel 22:1-3 / 2 Samuel 22:32 / Psalms 18:1-2 / Psalm 18:46 / Psalm 19:14 / Psalm 31:2-4 / Psalm 62:1-7 / Psalm 71:3 / Psalm 95:1.

The work of God is perfect and He continues to do all things possible for Israel’s success now and on into eternity. All God’s ways are just, Jeremiah identified God as just, Jeremiah 9:23-24. He is the standard or measuring stick that all of humanity is measured by.

God is faithful in that when He gives a promise He keeps it and God does no wrong. Doing wrong is the complete opposite of justice and right things, 1 John 3:4.

While God is identified as the just standard that man is judged perfect or imperfect, the people are depicted as a ‘warped’. The idea of being warped is to have an imperfection within our being, Leviticus 22:20-21, and thereby unacceptable to the perfect God, Leviticus 21:16-23.

Moses says that Israel were warped in three ways.

1. They had dealt corruptly with Him, Romans 1:26-27.

When Israel made the golden calf they had made a great mistake, Deuteronomy 9:16.

2. Israel were corrupt in that they committed fornication with the daughters of Moab, Numbers 25:1.

3. They were a crooked generation in that they failed to do God’s will so that they may receive His promises, Deuteronomy 1:21 / Deuteronomy 1:26-25.

Moses, on several occasions, identified Israel as rebellious, Deuteronomy 1:26 / Deuteronomy 9:24 / Deuteronomy 31:27 / Acts 2:40.

Notice that Moses says that Israel are ‘not his children’. True children would love their father and do what he tells them to do but Israel is likened to an ungrateful foreigner, John 14:15.

Moses asks the people, ‘is this the way you repay the Lord’? To repay is to make repayment or return for, requite another’s love. The height of foolishness is to not return the great love that God has shown toward us. Israel had repaid God’s favour, protection, and care for them with disobedience.

Moses asks them if God is their Father, their Creator, since God made them, then certainly it is God they must follow.

It was God who bought, that is, redeemed Israel out of Egyptian bondage through the miraculous and powerful signs and wonders performed, Deuteronomy 7:8, and as a result, Israel were now God’s own possession, Deuteronomy 7:6 / 1 Peter 2:9 / Acts 20:28 / 1 Corinthians 6:20 / 1 Corinthians 7:23.

Moses calls upon Israel to remember the ‘days of old’. Their fathers and elders had told them the stories of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and they had been told of God’s power as revealed in the flood of Genesis 6.

Nations were created by God when He separated the descendants of Adam. Jacob, that is, Israel then became the possession of the Lord, they were His own people.

As His people, He watched over them during their wilderness wanderings and Israel became the adopted child of God who cared for her. Israel were the ‘apple of God’s eye’ that is, God closely looked upon Israel with care, and so, the reflection of Israel could be seen in the pupil of God’s eye.

God’s pleasure was to be in His faithful people. He exercised tender care for them and He is compared to an ‘eagle’ that cares and protects her nest, Exodus 19:4.

The Lord guided them through the wilderness with a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night. He provided them with manna to eat and water to drink, He took care of them all the way.

It was the Lord and Him alone who guided them, not some imaginative god, it was the Lord Himself who delivered them from their enemies, not some imaginative god.

It was the Lord who made Israel ‘ride on the heights of the land’, that is, God exalted them to rule over the occupying nations of Canaan. They ate the increase of the field, sucked honey out of unlikely places, along with being blessed with oil, wine, and bread.

Furthermore, God blessed them with cruds, milk, lambs, rams, and goats. Truly Israel were children who were completely cared for both physically and emotionally. God loved them and took care of them, He was their Rock.

Song Of Moses Part 2

‘Jeshurun grew fat and kicked; filled with food, they became heavy and sleek. They abandoned the God who made them and rejected the Rock as their Saviour. They made him jealous of their foreign gods and angered him with their detestable idols. They sacrificed to false gods, which are not God—gods they had not known, gods that recently appeared, gods, your ancestors did not fear. You deserted the Rock, who fathered you; you forgot the God who gave you birth.’ Deuteronomy 32:15-18

The term ‘Jeshurun’ is found four times in the Old Testament, Deuteronomy 32:15 / Deuteronomy 33:5 / Deuteronomy 22:26 / Isaiah 44:2, and it means the ‘upright one.’

This may be something like a nickname for Israel since it is derived from the same Hebrew word that is translated ‘Israel’. The name is used ironically here in that God ceased to show favour toward them because the upright became unrighteous.

When Israel’s bellies were full they abandoned God, Deuteronomy 31:16. Israel has proven itself rebellious and God, by divine ability, professes their future failures. Not only have they failed Him in the past but they will continue to fail him in the future.

Once in Canaan, they will occupy lands, cattle, and vineyards that they didn’t have to work for and thereby, in a state of comfort and ease, they deserted God, the Rock of their salvation. Israel disregarded God’s warnings regarding idolatry and so, they made Him jealous and moved Him to anger.

The KJV says they ‘sacrificed to devils’, this word is used only one other time in the Old Testament, Psalm 106:37. We would assume that those who were reading this song for the first time cringed when they heard these prophetic pronouncements of what their descendants would eventually do.

Having deserted God, they began to follow other gods of the nations. Israel were warned about seeing and imitating the detestable practices of the nations around them in relation to idolatry, Deuteronomy 4:15-40 / Deuteronomy 29:17.

Israel turned from the God who revealed Himself from heaven to the gods that were revealed to them by the Canaanites. They dreamed up gods that even those who were first hearing these words, that is, their fathers, hadn’t and couldn’t conceive in their minds.

‘The LORD saw this and rejected them because he was angered by his sons and daughters. “I will hide my face from them,” he said, “and see what their end will be; for they are a perverse generation, children who are unfaithful. They made me jealous by what is no god and angered me with their worthless idols. I will make them envious by those who are not a people; I will make them angry by a nation that has no understanding. For a fire will be kindled by my wrath, one that burns down to the realm of the dead below. It will devour the earth and its harvests and set afire the foundations of the mountains. “I will heap calamities on them and spend my arrows against them. I will send wasting famine against them, consuming pestilence and deadly plague; I will send against them the fangs of wild beasts, the venom of vipers that glide in the dust. In the street the sword will make them childless; in their homes terror will reign. The young men and young women will perish, the infants and those with gray hair. I said I would scatter them and erase their name from human memory, but I dreaded the taunt of the enemy, lest the adversary misunderstand and say, ‘Our hand has triumphed; the LORD has not done all this.’” Deuteronomy 32:19-27

God saw all Israel’s wickedness, He saw it all, they had abandoned and rejected Him. The consequence of their perverted actions was the anger of God, Hebrews 3:8-15.

Since the children left their Father, the Father wouldn’t be found by the children. Since they wanted to go their own way by creating their own gods that approved of their wicked behaviour, God would allow them the freedom to go, Romans 1:24-28. God was going to hide His face from them.

The Lord is going to heap evils upon them, cause them to starve, devour them with burning heat, bite them with poisonous insects and beasts, Leviticus 26:22 / Jeremiah 15:2 / Ezekiel 5:17 / Ezekiel 14:21.

He would kill them with the sword of war and scatter them throughout the earth. The realm of the dead is the word, ‘Sheol’, which simply means the grave.

In other words, if they wanted to live like savage barbarians according to the desires of their lusts, then God would allow them the opportunity.

God specifically brought on them the curses that were pronounced earlier by Moses, Deuteronomy 28:15-68, because Israel as a unique nation were in a covenant relationship with God.

God says He will scatter them, this was done through the Assyrian captivity when the northern kingdom of Israel was scattered among the nations and in the Babylonian captivity when the southern kingdom was also scattered among the nations, Deuteronomy 9:28-29 / Ezekiel 20:9 / Ezekiel 20:14 / Ezekiel 20:22.

Israel’s enemies might say, ‘our hand has triumphed’, Exodus 32:12. The enemies of Israel might make this statement in their conquest of Israel, but the fact would be that God worked through the enemies of Israel in order to judge Israel. However, God won’t destroy Israel completely.

‘They are a nation without sense, there is no discernment in them. If only they were wise and would understand this and discern what their end will be! How could one man chase a thousand, or two put ten thousand to flight, unless their Rock had sold them, unless the LORD had given them up? For their rock is not like our Rock, as even our enemies concede. Their vine comes from the vine of Sodom and from the fields of Gomorrah. Their grapes are filled with poison, and their clusters with bitterness. Their wine is the venom of serpents, the deadly poison of cobras.’ Deuteronomy 32:28-33

God’s anger is poured out on His people because they have no discernment and no understanding. It appears they have forgotten God and cared nothing about spiritual things. God desires that Israel will discern what their end will be, Deuteronomy 5:29.

God the Rock, had bought Israel from Egypt, Deuteronomy 32:6, the Lord redeemed Israel and they belonged to Him. However, they had become unprofitable to Him and He sells them to other nations to be abused, Deuteronomy 32:30.

Israel no longer belonged to God, they now belonged to the wicked nations that are compared to Sodom and Gomorrah, Isaiah 1:10 / Jeremiah 23:14.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘This is a true prophecy of the complete degradation of Israel through their shameful debaucheries, Ezekiel 16 states categorically that Israel became worse than Sodom and Gomorrah, Ezekiel 16:46-58. Also see Isaiah 3:9, and Jeremiah 23:14. Some of the prophets also expanded the figure of the vine to include the charge that Israel’s vine became a wild vine, Hosea 10:1 / Jeremiah 2:21.’

They are a cruel and uncaring people and so, now, Israel now serves a master that cares nothing for them and is cruel. They are the complete opposite of God.

Song Of Moses Part 3

‘Have I not kept this in reserve and sealed it in my vaults? It is mine to avenge; I will repay. In due time their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them.” The LORD will vindicate his people and relent concerning his servants when he sees their strength is gone and no one is left, slave or free. He will say: “Now where are their gods, the rock they took refuge in, the gods who ate the fat of their sacrifices and drank the wine of their drink offerings? Let them rise up to help you! Let them give you shelter! “See now that I myself am he! There is no god besides me. I put to death and I bring to life, I have wounded and I will heal, and no one can deliver out of my hand. I lift my hand to heaven and solemnly swear: As surely as I live forever, when I sharpen my flashing sword and my hand grasps it in judgment, I will take vengeance on my adversaries and repay those who hate me. I will make my arrows drunk with blood, while my sword devours flesh: the blood of the slain and the captives, the heads of the enemy leaders.” Rejoice, you nations, with his people, for he will avenge the blood of his servants; he will take vengeance on his enemies and make atonement for his land and people.’ Deuteronomy 32:34-43

God’s judgment against the ungrateful nation of Israel has now come, this will be a day of vengeance and recompense, Romans 12:17-19 / Hebrews 10:26-31.

Once judgment had been given to Israel through their destruction by their enemies, then the Lord would have compassion on them.

He would demonstrate His compassion by the destruction of Israel’s enemies and once Israel had been brought to their knees in captivity, they would again be restored because of their repentance.

Moses challenges Israel to call upon their gods that they have now accepted for help and protection. Notice Moses calls their false gods ‘the rock’, this is certainly sarcasm since God was their true Rock of their salvation.

God alone kills, makes alive, wounds, and heals. The gods of the nations did not exist and thereby could offer Israel no hope, help or protection.

The Lord is going to sharpen His flashing sword and devour in judgment all that forsake and hate His Holy Name, Isaiah 63:1-6 / Revelation 14:17-20. The Rock of the one true and living God would render vengeance on those nations who took pride in their conquest of His people.

All Israel will rejoice in God’s righteous judgment of Israel and His just vengeance on the enemies of Israel because He is just both in His judgment and in the salvation of His people, Isaiah 45:21 / Romans 11:25-36.

‘Moses came with Joshua son of Nun and spoke all the words of this song in the hearing of the people. When Moses finished reciting all these words to all Israel, he said to them, “Take to heart all the words I have solemnly declared to you this day, so that you may command your children to obey carefully all the words of this law. They are not just idle words for you—they are your life. By them you will live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess.” Deuteronomy 32:44-47

Notice that both Moses and Joshua are given credit for writing and delivering the song to the people. Joshua’s original name was Hoshea and it was changed to Joshua, which means ‘the Lord is salvation’ by Moses, Numbers 13:8 / Numbers 13:16.

Unless the entire nation submitted to the principles of the song, they would fall into apostasy. The reason they all had to listen and obey the words was to prevent the next generation from falling away, Hosea 4:6.

Moses encourages them to take to heart all the words he had spoken to them, that is they need to make it their purpose in their lives.

Moses To Die On Mount Nebo

‘On that same day the LORD told Moses, “Go up into the Abarim Range to Mount Nebo in Moab, across from Jericho, and view Canaan, the land I am giving the Israelites as their own possession. There on the mountain that you have climbed you will die and be gathered to your people, just as your brother Aaron died on Mount Hor and was gathered to his people. This is because both of you broke faith with me in the presence of the Israelites at the waters of Meribah Kadesh in the Desert of Zin and because you did not uphold my holiness among the Israelites. Therefore, you will see the land only from a distance; you will not enter the land I am giving to the people of Israel.” Deuteronomy 32:48-52

The departure of Moses from Israel was on the same day he delivered the message of the song to Israel. God told him to go up to Mount Nebo, where he would have a view of the land of Canaan before he died. Abarim was probably a range of mountains of which Nebo was one of many peaks.

Keil, in his commentary, says the following.

‘The paragraph here concerning Moses’ ascent of mount Nebo differs in form from the previous mention of it in Numbers 27:12-14, partly in the fact that the situation of mount Nebo is more fully described, and partly in the use of the imperative, and a few other trifling points. These differences are all explained by the fact that the account here was not written by Moses himself.’

Notice that God stuck to His promises as He tells Moses that Canaan is the land He still promises to give to Israel. Although Moses wasn’t allowed to enter the land because of previous sin at Meribah, he was allowed to see the land, Numbers 33:37-39.

Go To Deuteronomy 33