Deuteronomy 4

Israel Urged to Obey God's Law

1 "Now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the judgments which 1I am teaching you to perform, so that 2you may live and go in and take possession of the land which the LORD, the God of your fathers, is giving you.
2 "3You shall not add to the word which 4I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.
3 "5Your eyes have seen what * the LORD has done in the case of Baal-peor, for all the men who followed * Baal-peor, the LORD your God has destroyed them from among you.
4 "But you who held fast to the LORD your God are alive today, every one of you.
5 "See, I have taught you statutes and judgments 6just as the LORD my God commanded me, that you should do thus in the land where * you are entering to possess it.
6 "So keep and do them, 7for that is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes and say, 'Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.'
7 "For 8what great nation is there that has a god 9so near to it as is the LORD our God 10whenever we call on Him?
8 "Or what great nation is there that has 11statutes and judgments as righteous as this whole law which I am setting before you today?
9 "Only 12give heed to yourself and keep your soul diligently, so that you do not forget the things which your eyes have seen and they do not depart from your heart 13all the days of your life; but 14make them known to your sons and your grandsons.
10 "Remember the day you stood before the LORD your God at Horeb, when the LORD said to me, 'Assemble the people to Me, that I may let them hear My words 15so they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth, and that they may 16teach their children.'
11 "You came near and stood at the foot of the mountain, 17and the mountain burned with fire to the very heart of the heavens: darkness, cloud and thick gloom.
12 "Then the LORD spoke to you from the midst of the fire; you heard the sound of words, but you saw no form -only a voice.
13 "So He declared to you His covenant which He commanded you to perform, that is, 18the Ten Commandments; and 19He wrote them on two tablets of stone.
14 "The LORD commanded me at that time to teach you statutes and judgments, that you might perform them in the land where * you are going over to possess it.
15 "So 20watch yourselves carefully, since you did not see any 21form on the day the LORD spoke to you at Horeb from the midst of the fire,
16 so that you do not 22act corruptly and 23make a graven image for yourselves in the form of any figure, the likeness of male or female,
17 the likeness of any animal that is on the earth, the likeness of 24any winged bird that flies in the sky,
18 the likeness of anything that creeps on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the water below * the earth.
19 "And beware not to lift up your eyes to heaven and see the sun and the moon and the stars, 25all the host of heaven, 26and be drawn away and worship them and serve them, those which the LORD your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven.
20 "But the LORD has taken you and brought you out of 27the iron furnace, from Egypt, to 28be a people for His own possession, as today.
21 "29Now the LORD was angry with me on your account *, and swore that I would not cross the Jordan, and that I would not enter the good land which the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance.
22 "For 30I will die in this land, I shall not cross the Jordan, but you shall cross and take possession of this 31good land.
23 "So watch yourselves, 32that you do not forget the covenant of the LORD your God which He made with you, and 33make for yourselves a graven image in the form of anything against which the LORD your God has commanded you.
24 "For the LORD your God is a 34consuming fire, a 35jealous God.
25 "When you become the father of children and children's children and have remained long in the land, and 36act corruptly, and 37make an idol in the form of anything, and 38do that which is evil in the sight of the LORD your God so as to provoke Him to anger,
26 I 39call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that you will 40surely perish quickly from the land where * you are going over the Jordan to possess it. You shall not live long * on it, but will be utterly destroyed.
27 "The LORD will 41scatter you among the peoples, and you will be left few in number among the nations where * the LORD drives you.
28 "42There you will serve gods, the work of man's hands, 43wood and stone, 44which neither see nor hear nor eat nor smell.
29 "45But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him 46with all your heart and all your soul.
30 "When you 47are in distress and all these things have come upon you, 48in the latter days 49you will return to the LORD your God and listen to His voice.
31 "For the LORD your God is a 50compassionate God; 51He will not fail you nor 52destroy you nor 53forget the covenant with your fathers which He swore to them.
32 "Indeed, 54ask now concerning the former days which were before you, since the 55day that God created man on the earth, and inquire 56from one end of the heavens to the other *. 57Has anything been done like this great thing, or has anything been heard like it?
33 "58Has any people heard the voice of God speaking from the midst of the fire, as you have heard it, and survived?
34 "59Or has a god tried to go to take for himself a nation from within another nation 60by trials, by signs and wonders and by war and 61by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm and by great terrors, as the LORD your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes?
35 "To you it was shown that you might know that the LORD, He is God; 62there is no other besides * Him.
36 "63Out of the heavens He let you hear His voice 64to discipline you; and on earth He let you see His great fire, and you heard His words from the midst of the fire.
37 "65Because * He loved your fathers, therefore He chose their descendants after them. And He 66personally brought you from Egypt by His great power,
38 driving out from before you nations greater and mightier than you, to bring you in and 67to give you their land for an inheritance, as it is today.
39 "Know therefore today, and take it to your heart, that 68the LORD, He is God in heaven above * and on the earth below *; there is no other.
40 "69So you shall keep His statutes and His commandments which I am giving you today, that 70it may go well with you and with your children after you, and 71that you may live long * on the land which the LORD your God is giving you for all time."
41 72Then Moses set apart three cities across the Jordan to the east *,
42 that a manslayer might flee there, who unintentionally * slew his neighbor without having enmity toward him in time past; and by fleeing to one of these cities he might live:
43 73Bezer in the wilderness on the plateau * for the Reubenites, and Ramoth in Gilead for the Gadites, and Golan in Bashan for the Manassites.
44 Now this is the law which Moses set before the sons of Israel;
45 these are the testimonies and the statutes and the ordinances which Moses spoke to the sons of Israel, when they came out from Egypt,
46 across the Jordan, in the valley 74opposite Beth-peor, in the land of 75Sihon king of the Amorites who lived at Heshbon, whom Moses and the sons of Israel defeated when they came out from Egypt.
47 They took possession of his land and the land of 76Og king of Bashan, the two kings of the Amorites, who were across the Jordan to the east *,
48 from 77Aroer, which is on the edge of the valley of Arnon, even as far as 78Mount Sion (that is, Hermon ),
49 with all the Arabah across the Jordan to the east, even as far as the sea of the Arabah, at the foot of the slopes of Pisgah.

Deuteronomy 4 Commentary

Chapter 4

Earnest exhortations to obedience, and dissuasives from idolatry. (1-23) Warnings against disobedience, and promises of mercy. (24-40) Cities of refuge appointed. (41-49)

Verses 1-23 The power and love of God to Israel are here made the ground and reason of a number of cautions and serious warnings; and although there is much reference to their national covenant, yet all may be applied to those who live under the gospel. What are laws made for but to be observed and obeyed? Our obedience as individuals cannot merit salvation; but it is the only evidence that we are partakers of the gift of God, which is eternal life through Jesus Christ, Considering how many temptations we are compassed with, and what corrupt desires we have in our bosoms, we have great need to keep our hearts with all diligence. Those cannot walk aright, who walk carelessly. Moses charges particularly to take heed of the sin of idolatry. He shows how weak the temptation would be to those who thought aright; for these pretended gods, the sun, moon, and stars, were only blessings which the Lord their God had imparted to all nations. It is absurd to worship them; shall we serve those that were made to serve us? Take heed lest ye forget the covenant of the Lord your God. We must take heed lest at any time we forget our religion. Care, caution, and watchfulness, are helps against a bad memory.

Verses 24-40 Moses urged the greatness, glory, and goodness of God. Did we consider what a God he is with whom we have to do, we should surely make conscience of our duty to him, and not dare to sin against him. Shall we forsake a merciful God, who will never forsake us, if we are faithful unto him? Whither can we go? Let us be held to our duty by the bonds of love, and prevailed with by the mercies of God to cleave to him. Moses urged God's authority over them, and their obligations to him. In keeping God's commandments they would act wisely for themselves. The fear of the Lord, that is wisdom. Those who enjoy the benefit of Divine light and laws, ought to support their character for wisdom and honour, that God may be glorified thereby. Those who call upon God, shall certainly find him within call, ready to give an answer of peace to every prayer of faith. All these statutes and judgments of the Divine law are just and righteous, above the statutes and judgments of any of the nations. What they saw at mount Sinai, gave an earnest of the day of judgment, in which the Lord Jesus shall be revealed in flaming fire. They must also remember what they heard at mount Sinai. God manifests himself in the works of the creation, without speech or language, yet their voice is heard, Ps. 19:1, Ps. 19:3 ; but to Israel he made himself known by speech and language, condescending to their weakness. The rise of this nation was quite different from the origin of all other nations. See the reasons of free grace; we are not beloved for our own sakes, but for Christ's sake. Moses urged the certain benefit and advantage of obedience. This argument he had begun with, ver. ( Deuteronomy 4:1 ) , That ye may live, and go in and possess the land; and this he concludes with, ver. ( Deuteronomy 4:40 ) , That it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee. He reminds them that their prosperity would depend upon their piety. Apostacy from God would undoubtedly be the ruin of their nation. He foresees their revolt from God to idols. Those, and those only, shall find God to their comfort, who seek him with all their heart. Afflictions engage and quicken us to seek God; and, by the grace of God working with them, many are thus brought back to their right mind. When these things are come upon thee, turn to the Lord thy God, for thou seest what comes of turning from him. Let all the arguments be laid together, and then say, if religion has not reason on its side. None cast off the government of their God, but those who first abandon the understanding of a man.

Verses 41-49 Here is the introduction to another discourse, or sermon, Moses preached to Israel, which we have in the following chapters. He sets the law before them, as the rule they were to work by, the way they were to walk in. He sets it before them, as the glass in which they were to see their natural face, that, looking into this perfect law of liberty, they might continue therein. These are the laws, given when Israel was newly come out of Egypt; and they were now repeated. Moses gave these laws in charge, while they encamped over against Beth-peor, an idol place of the Moabites. Their present triumphs were a powerful argument for obedience. And we should understand our own situation as sinners, and the nature of that gracious covenant to which we are invited. Therein greater things are shown to us than ever Israel saw from mount Sinai; greater mercies are given to us than they experienced in the wilderness, or in Canaan. One speaks to us, who is of infinitely greater dignity than Moses; who bare our sins upon the cross; and pleads with us by His dying love.

Cross References 78

  • 1. Deuteronomy 1:3
  • 2. Leviticus 18:5; Deuteronomy 5:33; Deuteronomy 8:1; Deuteronomy 16:20; Deuteronomy 30:16, 19; Ezekiel 20:11; Romans 10:5
  • 3. Deuteronomy 12:32; Proverbs 30:6; Revelation 22:18
  • 4. Deut 4:5, 14, 40
  • 5. Numbers 25:1-9
  • 6. Leviticus 26:46; Leviticus 27:34
  • 7. Deuteronomy 30:19, 20; Deuteronomy 32:46, 47; Job 28:28; Psalms 19:7; Psalms 111:10; Proverbs 1:7; 2 Timothy 3:15
  • 8. Deuteronomy 4:32-34; 2 Samuel 7:23
  • 9. Psalms 34:17, 18; Psalms 145:18; Psalms 148:14; Isaiah 55:6
  • 10. Psalms 34:18; Psalms 85:9
  • 11. Psalms 89:14; Psalms 97:2; Psalms 119:144, 160, 172
  • 12. Deuteronomy 4:23; Deuteronomy 6:12; Deuteronomy 8:11, 14, 19; Proverbs 4:23; Proverbs 23:19
  • 13. Deuteronomy 6:2; Deuteronomy 12:1; Deuteronomy 16:3
  • 14. Genesis 18:19; Deuteronomy 4:10; Deuteronomy 6:7, 20-25; Deuteronomy 11:19; Deuteronomy 32:46; Psalms 78:5, 6; Proverbs 22:6; Ephesians 6:4
  • 15. Deuteronomy 14:23; Deuteronomy 17:19; Deuteronomy 31:12, 13
  • 16. Deuteronomy 4:9
  • 17. Exodus 19:18; Hebrews 12:18, 19
  • 18. Exodus 34:28; Deuteronomy 10:4
  • 19. Exodus 31:18; Exodus 34:1, 28
  • 20. Joshua 23:11
  • 21. Isaiah 40:18
  • 22. Deuteronomy 4:25; Deuteronomy 9:12; Deuteronomy 31:29
  • 23. Exodus 20:4; Leviticus 26:1; Deuteronomy 5:8, 9; Deuteronomy 27:15; Romans 1:23
  • 24. Romans 1:23
  • 25. Genesis 2:1; Deuteronomy 17:3; 2 Kings 17:16; 2 Kings 21:3
  • 26. Deuteronomy 13:5, 10; Job 31:26-28
  • 27. 1 Kings 8:51; Jeremiah 11:4
  • 28. Exodus 19:5; Deuteronomy 7:6; Deuteronomy 14:2; Deuteronomy 26:18; Titus 2:14; 1 Peter 2:9
  • 29. Numbers 20:12; Deuteronomy 1:37
  • 30. Numbers 27:13, 14
  • 31. Deuteronomy 3:25
  • 32. Deuteronomy 4:9
  • 33. Deuteronomy 4:16
  • 34. Exodus 24:17; Deuteronomy 9:3; Isaiah 30:27; Isaiah 33:14; Hebrews 12:29
  • 35. Deuteronomy 5:9; Deuteronomy 6:15
  • 36. Deuteronomy 4:16
  • 37. Deuteronomy 4:23
  • 38. 2 Kings 17:17
  • 39. Deuteronomy 30:19; Deuteronomy 31:28; Deuteronomy 32:1; Isaiah 1:2; Micah 6:2
  • 40. Deuteronomy 7:4; Deuteronomy 8:19, 20
  • 41. Leviticus 26:33; Deuteronomy 28:64; Deuteronomy 29:28; Nehemiah 1:8
  • 42. Deuteronomy 28:36, 64; Jeremiah 16:13
  • 43. Deuteronomy 29:17
  • 44. Psalms 115:4-8; Psalms 135:15-18; Isaiah 44:12-20
  • 45. Deut 30:1-3, 10; 2 Chronicles 15:4; Isaiah 55:6; Jeremiah 29:13
  • 46. Deuteronomy 6:5; Deuteronomy 10:12
  • 47. Psalms 18:6; Psalms 59:16; Psalms 107:6, 13
  • 48. Deuteronomy 31:29; Jeremiah 23:20; Hosea 3:5; Hebrews 1:2
  • 49. Jeremiah 4:1, 2
  • 50. Exodus 34:6; 2 Chronicles 30:9; Nehemiah 9:31; Psalms 103:8; Psalms 111:4; Psalms 116:5; Jonah 4:2
  • 51. Deuteronomy 31:6, 8; Joshua 1:5; 1 Chronicles 28:20; Hebrews 13:5
  • 52. Jeremiah 30:11
  • 53. Leviticus 26:45
  • 54. Deuteronomy 32:7; Job 8:8
  • 55. Genesis 1:27; Isaiah 45:12
  • 56. Deuteronomy 28:64; Matthew 24:31
  • 57. Deuteronomy 4:7; 2 Samuel 7:23
  • 58. Exodus 20:22; Deuteronomy 5:24, 26
  • 59. Exodus 14:30; Deuteronomy 33:29
  • 60. Deuteronomy 7:19
  • 61. Deuteronomy 5:15; Deuteronomy 6:21; Psalms 136:12
  • 62. Exodus 8:10; Exodus 9:14; Deuteronomy 4:39; Deuteronomy 32:12, 39; 1 Samuel 2:2; Isaiah 43:10-12; Isaiah 44:6-8; Isaiah 45:5-7; Mark 12:32
  • 63. Exodus 19:9, 19; Exodus 20:18, 22; Deuteronomy 4:33; Nehemiah 9:13; Hebrews 12:25
  • 64. Deuteronomy 8:5
  • 65. Deuteronomy 7:7, 8; Deuteronomy 10:15; Deuteronomy 33:3
  • 66. Exodus 33:14; Isaiah 63:9
  • 67. Numbers 32:4; Numbers 34:14, 15
  • 68. Deuteronomy 4:35; Joshua 2:11
  • 69. Leviticus 22:31; Deuteronomy 4:2; Psalms 105:45
  • 70. Deuteronomy 4:1; Deuteronomy 5:16, 29, 33; Deuteronomy 6:3, 18; Deuteronomy 12:25, 28; Deuteronomy 22:7
  • 71. Exodus 23:26; Deuteronomy 32:47
  • 72. Numbers 35:6; Deuteronomy 19:2-13; Joshua 20:7-9
  • 73. Joshua 20:8
  • 74. Deuteronomy 3:29
  • 75. Numbers 21:21-25
  • 76. Deuteronomy 1:4; Deuteronomy 3:3, 4
  • 77. Deuteronomy 2:36; Deuteronomy 3:12
  • 78. Deuteronomy 3:9; Psalms 133:3

Footnotes 18

Chapter Summary


This chapter contains an exhortation to Israel to keep the commands, statutes, and judgments of God, urged from the superior excellency of them to those of all other nations, De 4:1-8, from the manner in which they were delivered, out of the midst of fire, by a voice of words, but no similitude seen, De 4:9-15, and particularly the Israelites are cautioned against idolatry, from the consideration of the goodness of God to them, in bringing them out of Egypt, De 4:16-20, and the rather Moses is urgent upon them to be diligent in their obedience to the laws of God, because he should quickly be removed from them, De 4:21-24, and should they be disobedient to them, it would provoke the Lord to destroy them, or to carry them captive into other lands, De 4:25-28 though even then, if they repented and sought the Lord, and became obedient, he would be merciful to them, and not forsake them, De 4:29-31 and they are put in mind again of the amazing things God had done for them, in speaking to them out of fire, and they alive; in bringing them out of another nation, and driving out other nations to make room for them; all which he improves, as so many arguments to move them to obedience to the divine commands, De 4:32-40 and then notice is taken of the three cities of refuge, separated on this side Jordan, De 4:41-43, and the chapter is concluded with observing, that this is the law, and these the testimonies, Moses declared and repeated to the children of Israel in the country of Sihon and Og, who were delivered into their hands, and their lands possessed by them, which laid them under fresh obligations to yield obedience to God, De 4:44-49.

Deuteronomy 4 Commentaries