Deuteronomy 31:16-18

16 The LORD said to Moses, "Behold, 1you are about to lie down with your fathers; and 2this people will arise and play the harlot with the strange gods of the land, into the midst of which they are going, and 3will forsake Me and break My covenant which I have made with them.
17 "4Then My anger will be kindled against them in that day, and 5I will forsake them and 6hide My face from them, and they will be consumed, and many evils and troubles will come upon them; so that they will say in that day, '7Is it not because * our God is not among us that these evils have come upon us?'
18 "But I will surely hide My face in that day because of all the evil which they will do, for they will turn to other gods.

Deuteronomy 31:16-18 Meaning and Commentary

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 31:16-18 In-Context

14 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Behold, the time for you to die is near; call Joshua, and present yourselves at the tent of meeting, that I may commission him." So Moses and Joshua went and presented themselves at the tent of meeting.
15 The LORD appeared in the tent in a pillar of cloud, and the pillar of cloud stood at the doorway of the tent.
16 The LORD said to Moses, "Behold, you are about to lie down with your fathers; and this people will arise and play the harlot with the strange gods of the land, into the midst of which they are going, and will forsake Me and break My covenant which I have made with them.
17 "Then My anger will be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them and hide My face from them, and they will be consumed, and many evils and troubles will come upon them; so that they will say in that day, 'Is it not because our God is not among us that these evils have come upon us?'
18 "But I will surely hide My face in that day because of all the evil which they will do, for they will turn to other gods.
19 "Now therefore, write this song for yourselves, and teach it to the sons of Israel; put it on their lips, so that this song may be a witness for Me against the sons of Israel.
20 "For when I bring them into the land flowing with milk and honey, which I swore to their fathers, and they have eaten and are satisfied and become prosperous, then they will turn to other gods and serve them, and spurn Me and break My covenant.

Cross References 7

  • 1. Genesis 15:15
  • 2. Exodus 34:15; Deuteronomy 4:25-28; Judg 2:11, 12, 17
  • 3. Judges 10:6; 1 Kings 18:18; 1 Kings 19:10; Jeremiah 2:13
  • 4. Judges 2:14; Judges 6:13
  • 5. 2 Chronicles 15:2; 2 Chronicles 24:20
  • 6. Psalms 104:29; Isaiah 8:17
  • 7. Numbers 14:42