The Scriptorium

The Fourth Commandment

God knows what we need. Deuteronomy 5.12-15

The Ten Commandments: Deuteronomy 5 (3)

Opening Prayer: Psalm 92.1-4
It is
good to give thanks to the LORD,
And to sing praises to Your name, O Most High;
To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning,
And Your faithfulness every night,
On an instrument of ten strings,
On the lute,
And on the harp,
With harmonious sound.
For You, LORD, have made me glad through Your work;
I will triumph in the works of Your hands.

Psalm 92.1-4

(Sweet Hour: Sweet Hour of Prayer)
How good it is to thank the Lord and praise to God Most High accord;
by day to let His kindness ring, His faithfulness by night to sing.
With ten-stringed lute, resounding lyre, and sweetest harp we’ll lift You higher.
For You have made our souls rejoice; we sing Your praise with blended voice!

Today’s Text: Deuteronomy 5.12-15

1. What are we supposed to do with the Sabbath Day?

2. What reason did God give for keeping this commandment?

The two givings of the fourth commandment are extremely interesting. First, two different verbs are given – “remember” (Ex. 20.8) and “observe” or even “guard” (Deut. 5.12). “Remember” means “to attend to diligently and faithfully”; “observe” or “guard” means actively to keep the Sabbath from being compromised. Second, two different reasons for remembering and guarding the Sabbath are proffered – first, to remember God’s work of creating everything in six days and resting on the seventh (Ex. 20.11); and second, as a way of remembering God’s deliverance from captivity (Deut. 5.15).

Thus, in considering how to fulfill the requirements of this commandment, a wide range of truly interesting and edifying possibilities open to us. Imagine a matrix, set up like this:

God’s Work of Creation                         God’s Work of Redemption





How many activities can you think to list under those headings and according to those verbs? Plenty! Plenty enough, in fact, that if we are diligent in keeping the Sabbath, we won’t have time for all those things that normally distract us from resting on the Lord’s Day as He intends.

God is serious about remembering and guarding the Day He has set apart as His own. We should be as well. The rest God has in store for us is so necessary and enriching, that we rob ourselves – and God – when we fail to keep His Day according to His Word.

Treasure Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
“Remember the Sabbath Day, to keep it holy” (Ex. 20.8). “Observe the Sabbath Day, to keep it holy” (Deut. 5.12). Both verbs lead us to the ultimate condition of holiness. We need a day of rest to remember His works of creation and redemption, so that we can increase in holiness. Then holiness will characterize our conduct, since it is written, “Be holy for I am holy” (1 Pet. 1.15, 16), because “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love…” (Eph. 1.4). This is the best rest, the obedient rest, and the good rest. Happily, Jesus tells us, “it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath” (Matt. 12.12). Knowing this, the rest is up to us!


1. Why do you think people find it so difficult to remember and observe the Lord’s Day?

2. What is your practice for keeping the Sabbath Day holy?

3. What kind of rest does God require of us and promise us when we keep the Sabbath Day as God intends?

Was this day of “rest” given merely as a day off? No, one of the most important purposes of the Sabbath was to provide a day for believers to worship and focus on God, as individuals and communities (Is. 58:13, 14). It is not that we are free to ignore God on the other six days; every day belongs to Him. But by designating one day as a special opportunity to come before the Lord, we demonstrate our dependence on Him as Creator and our obedience to Him as Lord.
Earl Radmacher (1931-2014), NKJV Study Bible Notes to Deuteronomy 5.12-15

Lord, I don’t want to miss anything You have in store for me, so help me on Your Day to…

Closing Prayer: Psalm 92.5-15
Thank God for His many great works, especially the work of creation and redemption. Call on Him to help you flourish and grow strong.

Psalm 92.5-15
(Sweet Hour: Sweet Hour of Prayer)
How sweet Your works, Your thoughts how deep: The fool cannot such knowledge keep.
Like grass the wicked rise each day; in judgment they are swept away.
But You, O Lord, abide on high; Your enemies shall fall and die.
All those who sin shall scattered be, but, Lord, You have exalted me!

My eye my vanquished foe shall see; my ears hear those who threaten me.
Yet in God’s house, where he belongs, the righteous like a tree grows strong.
Then let us green and fruitful be and flourish like a mighty tree,
to tell God’s righteousness abroad: He is our Rock, our sovereign God!

T. M. and Susie Moore

Listen to our summary of last week’s study in Deuteronomy by clicking here. You can download all the studies in the series by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All quotations from Church Fathers from
Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy: Ancient Christian Commentary Series III, Joseph T. Lienhard, S. J. ed. in collaboration with Ronnie J. Rombs, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2001). All quotations from John Calvin from John Calvin, Commentaries on The Four Last Books of Moses Arranged in the Order of A Harmony, Rev. Charles William Bingham M. A., tr. and ed. (Edinburgh: The Calvin Translation Society, 1863. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore