The Scriptorium

Look on the Life-Side

God wants us there, Jesus gets us there. Deuteronomy 32

The Song of Moses: Deuteronomy 32 (7)

Opening Prayer: Deuteronomy 32.1-4
“Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak;
And hear, O earth, the words of my mouth.
Let my teaching drop as the rain,
My speech distill as the dew,
As raindrops on the tender herb,
And as showers on the grass.
For I proclaim the name of the LORD:
Ascribe greatness to our God.
He is the Rock, His work is perfect;
For all His ways are justice,
A God of truth and without injustice;
Righteous and upright is He.

Sing Deuteronomy 32.1-4
(Sagina: And Can It Be)
Give ear, O heav’ns, I will proclaim, and hear, O earth the words I tell:
Let now my teaching drop as rain, my speech as morning dew distill
as show’rs that fall on thirsty grass, and rain on tender herbs at last:
Refrain, v. 3
I will proclaim our Savior’s fame, and sing the greatness of His Name.

He is the Rock, His work is sure, and justice defines His every Word:
A God of truth, upright and pure, both just and righteous is our Lord!
Perfect is He in all His ways, without injustice, deserving praise!
Refrain, v. 3

Review Deuteronomy 32; meditate on Deuteronomy 32.1-4

Preparation
1. How does God want His people to think about His Word?

2. What does the Word of God principally proclaim?

Meditation

The Song of Moses was intended to be a kind of national anthem for the people of God, to serve in every generation as a reminder of the greatness and graciousness of God, and to warn His people against turning away from Him. Moses gave us only the words, which he may or may not have sung for the people. Every generation of the people of God needs to learn this song for themselves. It proclaims timeless truths that we must cherish in our hearts.

Primary among these is that God is great and good and loving. He cares for His people and provides for their every need. He invites people from every nation, tribe, and tongue to join with His people in the joy and salvation of the Lord (v. 43), and He promises to atone for their sins, and make them His own children.

Why would anyone not want to participate in this God and His goodness? Mostly, I suspect, because when they look at the people who confess themselves to be His children, they don’t find their lifestyles all that attractive, or even all that different from their own. When the people of God lust and froth over the same things that unbelievers do – stuff, fun, and the right to decide which values to embrace – they don’t see any reason to come to the Lord. What we show them, they’ve already got – minus all the guilt about sin and the interruptions of their Sundays.

When the people of God believe that His blessings, rather than He Himself, are their primary good, they are on the way to idolatry. The bulk of the Song of Moses is designed to tell us (a) how much God hates idolatry and (b) how bad idolatry is for those how drift into it. God will make His people captive to the world for which they pant, so that they cannot realize the fullness of His precious and very great promises. When we will not be captive to our good, great, and gracious God, we make ourselves captive to our times and all its fleeting allurements.

God is without injustice; He knows what He’s doing, and whatever He does is just and right. This song could remind us of that, if only we would learn, sing, and teach it.

Treasure Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
“Without” sounds like a loss. Without food, without clothing, without health. How about, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.”? (Jn. 8.7) Without sin would be great! Or, “Pray without ceasing…” (I Thess. 5.17) That would definitely be positive. Here’s another, “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (Jms. 2.26). We don’t want to be without spirit or works, so that we end up in the loss category. But here is the point: God is perfect. And His work is perfect. Even when we are not without sin, we don’t pray without ceasing, and we often are without good works. Here is what He is without: injustice. And only because of Jesus do we experience the life-side; and escape without death. How can it be? Here’s how:
He is the Rock, His work is perfect;
For all His ways are justice,
A God of truth and without injustice;
Righteous and upright is He.” Deuteronomy 32.4

Reflection
1. How does Jesus satisfy the justice of God on our behalf?

2. We don’t keep the Law in order to be justified, but because we have been justified, by grace through faith. Explain.

3. What does Moses mean by saying that his teaching is like the rain, or like the dew? Is this your experience of reading Moses? Explain.

God is not only true, but the Truth itself. At any rate, this applies to the persons who pay entire allegiance to the word of God, for their expectations shall never be frustrated. Thus the people are indirectly reproved for their unbelief, in that they deserted God, whose faithfulness was not only tried and proved, but who is the very fountain of truth. John Calvin (1509-1564), Commentary on Deuteronomy 32.4

Rain on my soul, Lord, with the refreshing health of Your Word, so that I…

Closing Prayer: Psalm Deuteronomy 32.9-14
Praise God for His Word. Call on Him to let His Word dwell in you richly (Col. 3.16). Look to the day ahead, and commit to following God’s Word in all things.

Sing Deuteronomy 32.9-14, 3
(Sagina: And Can It Be)
Think now on all the days of old, the generations passed above,
how, by our fathers and elders told, we learned of God’s redeeming love.
When He the nations set apart, He kept His people in His heart.
Refrain, v. 3
I will proclaim our Savior’s fame, and sing the greatness of His Name.

Just like an eagle guards its nest, and spreads its wings to shield its own,
takes them and shelters them in his breast, so God preserved them all alone.
No foreign god assistance brings: He carries them on His own wings.
Refrain, v. 3

He made His people lords of earth, to eat the produce of their fields,
lavished them all with creation’s worth, and blessed their harvests and their yields.
He made their flocks and herds abound, and blessed the vintage of their ground.
Refrain, v. 3

T. M. and Susie Moore

Listen to our summary of last week’s study in Deuteronomy by going to today’s column at the website. You can download all the studies in the series by clicking here. Our book, The Church Captive, examines the question of whether the Church in our day has drifted from the Lord and become captive to its culture. Order your copy 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