Deuteronomy 31

1 And Moses went and spoke these words unto all Israel,
2 and he said unto them, I am one hundred and twenty years old today; I can no longer go out and come in; also the LORD has said unto me, Thou shalt not pass this Jordan.
3 The LORD thy God, he will pass in front of thee, and he will destroy these Gentiles from before thee, and thou shalt inherit them; Joshua shall be the one who shall pass before thee, as the LORD has said.
4 And the LORD shall do unto them as he did to Sihon and to Og, kings of the Amorites, and unto the land of them whom he destroyed.
5 And the LORD shall give them up before your face that ye may do unto them according unto all the commandments which I have commanded you.
6 Be strong and of a good courage; fear not, nor be afraid of them, for the LORD thy God is he that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee nor forsake thee.
7 And Moses called unto Joshua and said unto him in the sight of all Israel, Be strong and of a good courage, for thou shalt enter in with this people to the land which the LORD has sworn unto their fathers to give them, and thou shalt cause them to inherit it.
8 And the LORD is he that doth go before thee; he will be with thee; he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee; fear not, neither be dismayed.
9 And Moses wrote this law and delivered it unto the priests the sons of Levi, who bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and unto all the elders of Israel.
10 And Moses commanded them, saying, At the beginning of the seventh year, in the appointed time of the year of release, in the feast of the tabernacles,
11 when all Israel is come to appear before the LORD thy God in the place which he shall choose, thou shalt read this law before all Israel in their hearing.
12 Gather the people together, men and women and children and thy strangers that are within thy gates, that they may hear and that they may learn and fear the LORD your God and observe to do all the words of this law,
13 and that their children, who have not known any thing, may hear and learn to fear the LORD your God all the days that ye live in the land unto which ye are to pass the Jordan to inherit it.
14 And the LORD said unto Moses, Behold, thy days are fulfilled that thou must die; call Joshua and wait in the tabernacle of the testimony that I may give him a charge. And Moses and Joshua went and waited in the tabernacle of the testimony.
15 And the LORD appeared in the tabernacle in the pillar of cloud, and the pillar of the cloud stood over the door of the tabernacle.
16 And the LORD said unto Moses, Behold, thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, and this people shall rise up and fornicate after the gods of the strangers of the land where they go when they shall be among them and will forsake me and break my covenant which I have made with them.
17 Then my anger shall be kindled against them in that same day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide my face from them, and they shall be devoured, and many evils and troubles shall befall them so that they will say in that day, Are not these evils come upon us because our God is not among us?
18 But I will surely hide my face in that day for all the evils which they shall have wrought, in that they are turned unto other gods.
19 Now therefore write ye this song for you and teach it to the sons of Israel; put it in their mouths that this song may be a witness for me against the sons of Israel.
20 For I shall bring them into the land which I swore unto their fathers, that flows with milk and honey, and they shall eat and fill themselves and wax fat; then they will turn unto other gods and serve them and provoke me and break my covenant.
21 And it shall come to pass when many evils and troubles are befallen them, that this song shall reply to them in their face as a witness, for it shall not be forgotten out of the mouths of their seed; for I know their imagination which they go about, even now, before I have brought them into the land which I swore.
22 Moses therefore wrote this song the same day and taught it to the sons of Israel.
23 And he gave Joshua, the son of Nun, a charge and said, Be strong and of a good courage for thou shalt bring the sons of Israel into the land which I swore unto them, and I will be with thee.
24 And it came to pass when Moses had finished writing the words of this law in the book until they were finished,
25 that Moses commanded the Levites, who bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD, saying,
26 Take this book of the law and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God that it may be there for a witness against thee.
27 For I know thy rebellion and thy stiff neck; behold, while I am yet alive with you today, ye are rebels against the LORD, and how much more after my death?
28 Gather unto me all the elders of your tribes and your officers, and I shall speak these words in their ears and call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against them.
29 For I know that after my death ye will utterly corrupt yourselves and turn aside from the way which I have commanded you; and evil will befall you in the latter days because ye will have done evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger through the work of your hands.
30 Then Moses spoke in the ears of all the congregation of Israel the words of this song until they were ended.

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Deuteronomy 31 Commentary

Chapter 31

Moses encourages the people, and Joshua. (1-8) The law to be read every seventh year. (9-13) The Israelites' apostacy foretold, A song given to be witness against them. (14-22) The law delivered to the Levites. (22-30)

Verses 1-8 Moses assures Israel of the constant presence of God with them. This is applied by the apostle to all God's spiritual Israel, to encourage their faith and hope; unto us is this gospel preached, as well as unto them; he will never fail thee, nor forsake thee, ( Hebrews 13:5 ) . Moses commends Joshua to them for a leader; one whose wisdom, and courage, and affection they had long known; one whom God had appointed to be their leader; and therefore would own and bless. Joshua is well pleased to be admonished by Moses to be strong and of good courage. Those shall speed well, who have God with them; therefore they ought to be of good courage. Through God let us do valiantly, for through him we shall do victoriously; if we resist the devil, he will flee from us.

Verses 9-13 Though we read the word in private, we must not think it needless to hear it read in public. This solemn reading of the law must be done in the year of release. The year of release was typical of gospel grace, which is called the acceptable year of the Lord; for our pardon and liberty by Christ, engage us to keep his commandments. It must be read to all Israel, men, women, children, and to the strangers. It is the will of God that all people should acquaint themselves with his word. It is a rule to all, therefore should be read to all. Whoever has read of the pains taken by many persons to get scraps of the Scriptures, when a whole copy could not be obtained, or safely possessed, will see how thankful we should be for the thousands of copies amongst us. They will also understand the very different situation in which the Israelites were placed for many ages. But the heart of man is so careless, that all will be found too little, to keep up a knowledge of the truths, precepts, and worship of God.

Verses 14-22 Moses and Joshua attended the Divine Majesty at the door of the tabernacle. Moses is told again that he must shortly die; even those who are most ready and willing to die, need to be often reminded of its coming. The Lord tells Moses, that, after his death, the covenant he had taken so much pains to make between Israel and their God, would certainly be broken. Israel would forsake Him; then God would forsake Israel. Justly does he cast those off who so unjustly cast him off. Moses is directed to deliver them a song, which should remain a standing testimony for God, as faithful to them in giving them warning, and against them, as persons false to themselves in not taking the warning. The word of God is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of men's hearts, and meets them by reproofs and correction. Ministers who preach the word, know not the imaginations of men; but God, whose word it is, knows perfectly.

Verses 23-30 The solemn delivery of the book of the law to the Levites, to be deposited in, or rather by the side, of the ark, is again related. The song which follows in the next chapter is delivered to Moses, and by him to the people. He wrote it first, as the Holy Spirit taught him; and then spake it in the hearing of all the people. Moses tells them plainly, I know that after my death ye will utterly corrupt yourselves. Many a sad thought, no doubt, it occasioned to this good man; but his comfort was, that he had done his duty, and that God would be glorified in their dispersion, if not in their settlement, for the foundation of God stands sure.

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO DEUTERONOMY 31

Moses being old, and knowing he should quickly die, and must not go over Jordan with the people of Israel, acquaints them with it, and encourages them and Joshua to go over notwithstanding, and not be afraid of their enemies, since the Lord would go with them, and deliver them into their hands, De 31:1-8; and having written the law, he delivered it to the priests, and ordered that it should be read at the end of every seven years before all the people, that they and theirs might learn it, and fear the Lord, De 31:9-13; and whereas the death of Moses was very near, and the Lord foreseeing the people would quickly fall into idolatry, which would bring great calamities upon them, he directed Moses to write a song, which should be a witness for him, and against them, in ages to come; which Moses accordingly did, De 31:14-22; and Moses having given a charge to Joshua, and finished the writing of the law in a book, gave it to the Levites to put it in the side of the ark, De 31:23-27; and then ordered the chief of the tribes to be gathered together, that he might deliver the song, which by the direction and under the inspiration of God he had written, De 31:28-30; which song is recorded in De 32:1-43.

Deuteronomy 31 Commentaries

The Jubilee Bible

(from the Scriptures of the Reformation)

edited by Russell M. Stendal

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