The Scriptorium

Three Commands, Three Promises

God knows what we need to be most blessed. Deuteronomy 5.32, 33

The Ten Commandments: Deuteronomy 5 (6)

Opening Prayer: Psalm 105.1-5
Oh, give thanks to the LORD!
Call upon His name;
Make known His deeds among the peoples!
Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him;
Talk of all His wondrous works!
Glory in His holy name;
Let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the LORD!
Seek the LORD and His strength;
Seek His face evermore!
Remember His marvelous works which He has done,
His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth…

Psalm 105.1-5

(Warrington: Give to Our God Immortal Praise)
Give thanks unto the Lord Most High;
call on His Name, before Him cry!
Make known His deeds in every land;
sing praise for all the works of His hand.

Glory in God, rejoice in heart,
all you who seek His holy part.
Him and His strength and Presence seek;
His works proclaim, His judgments speak.

Today’s Text: Deuteronomy 5.32, 33

Preparation
1. What three promises do you see here?

2. What three commands did Moses give?

Meditation
Moses has just given the Ten Commandments to this new generation, who are about to enter the promised land of Canaan. He again sternly warned them against the hard-heartedness of their parents, promising that if they would devote themselves to Him and obey Him in all things, it would “be well with them and with their children forever!” (Deut. 5.29)

Now, to emphasize the need for obedience, and to enlarge before them the magnitude of what God promised, Moses restates the call to obedience in three commands, and reissues the promises of God in a three-faceted gem. More of God’s Law is yet to come; but this brief interlude allows Moses the opportunity to remind the people that these words are not merely to be received with some form of intellectual assent.

Three commands reinforce the duty of obedience: “be careful to do”; “not turn aside”; and “walk in all the ways” of the Lord. The verbs used here indicate activity, direction, and progress. Obeying God is a matter of doing what He commands, exerting ourselves, soul and body, to bring the beauty and righteousness of God’s Law to realization in our daily lives. We are on a journey, and the path is clearly marked by the twin guardrails of love for God and love for neighbor. We must not stray beyond these; rather, we must “walk in all the ways” marked out by that path, all that God commands us in His Law.

But we don’t do this so that God will save us by our works. We are saved; as Israel had been delivered from Egypt, so we have been delivered by grace through faith from our sins and guilt by the shed blood of Jesus Christ. So we do what God commands, keep on the straight path, and walk in all our ways according to His Word, so that we might know the precious and very great promises He has for us.

And these are precious and very great indeed: “that you may live and that it may be well with you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which you shall possess” (v. 33). What more could we want than to be assured of these all the days of our life? We gain the promises of God’s Word through obedience to the commandments of God’s Word. And by so doing, we know Him, His Presence, His promises, and His power increasingly, in every aspect of our lives.

Treasure Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
The car owner’s manual recommends molasses for really good mileage. Washing machine booklets suggest that tar cleans efficiently. Just be sure to use the right amount. Water is an excellent way to clean your computer keyboard. “If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?” (Lk. 11.11-13) What exactly are we thinking when God, the Creator of the entire world and of all the people in it, tells us through His User’s Manual (the Bible) exactly how we should live, and then act like we know better? We prefer not to follow His wisdom and commands. Are we crazy? Who does that? Do we really choose molasses over gasoline? Tar in place of detergent? Water instead of air? Or stones, serpents, and scorpions? Our trustworthy Guide tells us, “Stay always within the boundaries where God’s love can reach and bless you” (Jude 1.21, The Living Bible). Let’s follow His commandments always, because He knows best.

Reflection

1. Why does the Word of God have authority to direct and bless our lives?

2. What can we do to make sure we always do and walk in God’s paths, and not stray?

3. Are you making the best possible use of the User Manual God has provided for you?

He adds, in conclusion, that they will not satisfy the Law unless they keep themselves within its bounds; and in order that they may be more disposed to obedience, he gently attracts them by subjoining the promise.
John Calvin (1506-1564), Commentary on Deuteronomy 5.32

Keep me in the path of Your Word, O Lord, so that I…

Closing Prayer: Psalm 105.26-45
Give thanks for Jesus and your salvation. Ask God to show you how His promises might play out in your life today, and where you need to “be careful” to follow all His commands.

Psalm 105.26-45
(Warrington: Give to Our God Immortal Praise)
He brought His people from Egypt alive,
and made their joy and song revive.
He made the nations’ land their own,
and all the wealth that they had known.

To them He granted the promised land,
the portion of His gracious hand.
Though they were few, and wandered far,
He kept them close within His heart.

So let us all in our Savior confide,
and in His holy Law abide.
Let us observe His glorious Word,
and praise our sovereign, faithful Lord!

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