7 Inspiring Things to Know about the Song of Moses
Moses was a man who understood the great mercy and forgiveness of God. The Lord called Moses into a relationship with Him, to lead the Hebrew people out of Egypt, and even let Moses see a glimpse of His full glory.
Despite his flaws, Moses grew closer to the Lord over the course of his life, and God empowered him to write the Pentateuch--the first five books of the Bible. Moses wrote a song about God’s power, man’s rebellion, and the Lord’s love and victory.
He gave the song to Israel as a way of warning them about straying from God. He encouraged love, fidelity, and obedience to the God who delivered them from Egypt, helped them through the wilderness, and was about to give them their own land.
Its reminders about God’s character, and warnings about human nature are as true today as they were in Moses’ time, and the poem is worth understanding. The Lord loves his people, and will do much for them, but He is also just and righteous and will have victory over evil.
What Is the Song of Moses?
As recorded in his last book, Deuteronomy, towards the end of his life, Moses composed a song, inspired by God, to give to the people of Israel. He wrote it after the giving of the law at Sinai, the worship of the golden calf, the wandering in the wilderness, and the miracles of manna and quail.
Moses was 120 years old, and announced Joshua as his God-chosen successor; he was commissioned to lead. The Song of Moses was his final speech to Israel, though he would give them one more blessing tribe by tribe before he separated from them.
It was after he gave the song to the people that, "...the Lord spoke to Moses, 'Go up this mountain of the Abarim, Mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab... And die on the mountain which you go up, and be gathered to your people as Aaron your brother died in Mount Hor and was gathered to his people, because you broke faith with me in the midst of the people of Israel at the waters of Meribah-kadesh...'" (Deuteronomy 32:58b-51a).
Moses would never get to enter the promised land because of his temper, though God did let him see it.
Why Does Moses Say/Sing This?
The song touches on a consistent pattern of behavior from both God and Israel. Heaven and earth are called to hear the song, and then Moses gives a few lines that could be seen as the thesis statement: God is just and loves His people, but they defy and disobey Him.
Verses 7-14 specifically touch on the exodus from Egypt, and God’s guidance. The following verses outline Israel’s fall into idolatry. God through his prophet Moses then gives dire warnings about the consequences of giving into the temptation to turn away from Him again.
He warns “And I will heap disasters upon them; I will spend my arrows on them; they shall be wasted with hunger, and devoured by plague and poisonous pestilence; I will send the teeth of beasts against them, with the venom of things that crawl in the dust” (Exodus 32:23-24).
Moses’ prophetic warnings served as his final reminder to the people about the importance of loving and obeying the Lord whole-heartedly. God did not want to see Israel suffer. Like a loving parent disciplines a stubborn child, God would rather discipline his children than wipe them out in wrath.
What the Old Testament shows instead is that God--in order to discipline Israel--removed His hands of protection, and sent or allowed bad things to happen to them. Unfortunately, it usually took extreme situations such as plague, conquest, and exile, for Israel to turn back to Him.
7 Things We Learn from the Song of Moses
The songs and poems that made it into the Bible are the ones inspired by the Holy Spirit. They communicate truths about God and man, their nature, and their complicated relationship. The Song of Moses has much to say about these subjects. Some of the ideas communicated about God and man in Moses’ work include:
1. God Is Just
“The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he.” Deuteronomy 32:4
“He repays those who hate him and cleanses his people’s land.” Deuteronomy 32:43b
2. God Provides
“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.” Deuteronomy 32:8
“Curds from the herd, and milk from the flock, with fat of lambs, rams of Bashan and goats, with the very finest of the wheat - and you drank foaming wine made from the blood of the grape.” Deuteronomy 32:14
3. People Are Fickle and Will Often Return to Sinful Behaviors
“But Jeshurun grew fat, and kicked; you grew fat, stout, and sleek; then he forsook God who made him and scoffed at the Rock of his salvation.” Deuteronomy 32:15
"You were unmindful of the Rock that bore you, and you forgot the God who gave you birth.” Deuteronomy 32:18
4. Disobedience Hurts God
“They have made me jealous with what is no god; they have provoked me to anger with their idols. “ Deuteronomy 32:21a
"For a fire is kindled by my anger, and it burns to the depths of Sheol, devours the earth and its increase, and sets on fire the foundations of the mountains.” Deuteronomy 32:22
5. People Who Do Not Seek God’s Wisdom Make Bad Decisions
“For they are a nation void of counsel, and there is no understanding in them.” Deuteronomy 32:28
“For their vine comes from the vine of Sodom and from the fields of Gomorrah; their grapes are grapes of poison; their clusters are bitter;” Deuteronomy 32:32
6. God Is Powerful
“For I will proclaim the name of the Lord; ascribe greatness to our God!” Deuteronomy 32:3
“See now that, I, even I, am he and there is no good beside me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand.” Deuteronomy 32:39
7. God Will Have the Final Victory of Evil
“...As I live forever, if I sharpen my flashing sword and my and takes hold on judgment, I will take vengeance on my adversaries and will repay those who hate me.” Deuteronomy 32:40b-41
“Rejoice with him, O heavens; bow down to him all gods, for he avenges the blood of his children and takes vengeance on his adversaries. He repays those who hate him and cleanses his people’s land.” Deuteronomy 32:43
Even though it was written for the Israelites thousands of years ago, the Song of Moses reminds believers today about the long-suffering nature of God. No matter how hard Christians try, they always stumble and fall. Others walk away from the faith for periods of time in their life, but God still loves them, and wants to see them return to Him.
It also means that certain trials come, not because God wants to violently punish people, but because God uses difficult circumstances to discipline those who know Him, and bring those who do not to Him. Moses focuses on the sovereign power of the Lord, a good reminder to be humble before the one who judges, but also the one who would ultimately come to provide redemption, rather than condemnation.
Driver, S.R. A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Deuteronomy. New York: Charles Scriber’s Sons, 1895.
Levy, Abraham Juda. The Song of Moses (Deuteronomy 32). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1930.
Rogerson, John W. Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible Deuteronomy. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2003.
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Bethany Verrett is a freelance writer who uses her passion for God, reading, and writing to glorify God. She and her husband have lived all over the country serving their Lord and Savior in ministry. She has a blog on graceandgrowing.com.