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Bible Commentaries
Deuteronomy 31

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-30

Chapter 31

So Moses, chapter thirty-one, went and spoke these words to all Israel. And he said unto them, I am now a hundred and twenty years old today ( Deuteronomy 31:1-2 ).

Happy birthday, dear Moses. One hundred and twenty years old. Ah, what a character, what a beautiful character this man is, one who walked with God in such an intimate way. He said,

I can no more go out and come in: also the LORD had said unto me, You are to go over this Jordan ( Deuteronomy 31:2 ).

I can't go with you; I have brought you as far as I can.

It is interesting to me that Moses who is representing the law could only bring them to the Promised Land. He could not take them in. The law cannot take you into the full blessings of God. Grace must do that. So the law could only bring them to the border of the land. Now it's up to Joshua to take them in. And so, it's typical of our lives: the law cannot bring you into that glorious rich life in the Spirit. It can only bring you to it, but by grace and faith we must enter in.

Now the LORD is going to go before you, and He is going to drive out these nations just like He has driven out Og and Sihon. Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that goes before you; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. And Moses called unto Joshua, and said unto him in the sight of all Israel, Be strong and of a good courage: for thou must go with this people into the land which the LORD hath sworn unto their fathers to give them; and thou shalt cause them to inherit it. And the LORD, he it is that goes before you; he will be with you, he will not fail you, neither forsake you: fear not, neither be dismayed ( Deuteronomy 31:3-8 ).

Isn't that a glorious charge? Here's Joshua, been depending upon Moses for a long time. He's been his servant. Now Moses said, "Okay Joshua, you're going to take over". Oh, that's an awesome thing. Fear would grip your heart, but Moses said, "Be strong, be of good courage, for the Lord is the one who is going to go before you. He will be with you. He will not fail or forsake you".

So Moses wrote the law. And again notice this, Moses wrote the law. For all those theological scholars who want to, you know, argue about who wrote the five books. If they would only read them, they will find out they tell them. Moses wrote this law and delivered it to the priest, the sons of Levi.

And Moses commanded them saying, At the end of every seven years, in the solemnity of the year of release, in the feast of tabernacles, When Israel is come to appear before the LORD thy God in the place which He shall choose, thou shalt read this law before all Israel in their hearing ( Deuteronomy 31:10-11 ).

So every seven years at the Feast of Tabernacles when they came to Jerusalem, they were to get out this law of Moses and read it for all the people. Now we're several months going through this thing reading it. So that must have been quite a thing.

Now we remember when Ezra returned from captivity and they gathered the people back into the land that they found the law. They opened it and began to read it and the people stood from morning till evening as the law of God was read. And they covered their heads and began to weep as they realized how much they had failed God. And as they realized from the law of God that their failure was the thing that caused them to be delivered into Babylon and all. So they read the law in the time of Ezra and they gave the explanation. They did this for several days. The people would stand there from morning till evening as the law was read and explained to them, as the people repented before God after the return from Babylon captivity. Quite a fascinating experience, and here there is that command. Every seventh year, the year of release, the law was to be read at the Feast of Tabernacles.

Gather the people together, the men, and the women, and the children, the stranger that are within your gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and that they may fear the LORD your God, and observe to do all the words of this law ( Deuteronomy 31:12 ):

So these four things: They were to hear it, they were to learn it, they were to reverence God, and they were to observe to do the law.

Verse fourteen,

And the LORD said unto Moses, Behold, thy days approach that thou must die: call Joshua, and present yourselves in the tabernacle of the congregation, that I may give him a charge. And Moses and Joshua went, and presented themselves in the tabernacle of the congregation. And the LORD appeared in the tabernacle in a pillar of a cloud: and the pillar of the cloud stood over the door of the tabernacle. And the LORD said unto Moses, Behold, thou shalt sleep with thy fathers; and this people will rise up, and go whoring after the gods of the strangers of the land, whither they go to be among them, and will forsake me, and break my covenant which I have made with them ( Deuteronomy 31:14-16 ).

Now God is telling Moses, flat, "Moses, these people are going to go in and they are going to mess up. They are going to start whoring after the gods of the land. They are going to forsake Me. They are going to start following these other gods." How discouraging it must be to have foreknowledge.

Then my anger shall be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and will hide my face from them, and they shall be devoured, and many evils and troubles shall befall them; so that they will say in that day, Are not these evils come upon us, because our God is not among us? And I will hide my face in that day for all the evils which they shall have wrought, in that they are turned unto other gods. Now therefore write this song for you, and teach it the children of Israel: put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for me against the children of Israel ( Deuteronomy 31:17-19 ).

In other words, now write this song for them. And the song is something they will remember and later on when the calamities happen, they will still be singing this song, but as they sing it, then all of a sudden they'll begin to understand it. The song will be a reminder to them of the reason why the calamities have befallen them is because they have forsaken God. So the Song of Moses that he was to teach to the children of Israel in order that when the calamities came, it would remind them and be a testimony or a witness against them.

And it shall come to pass, when many evils and troubles are befallen them, verse twenty-one, that this song shall testify against them as a witness: for it will not be forgotten. So Moses wrote this song the same day, taught it to the children of Israel. And to Joshua he said, Be strong, be of good courage for thou shalt bring the children of Israel into the land which I sware unto them: and I will be with thee. And it came to pass, when Moses made an end of writing the words, (And again it tells us) that Moses made an end of the writing of the words of this law in a book till they were finished. Then Moses commanded the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD, saying, Take this book of the law, and put it in the ark of the covenant as it is to be preserved there. And so Moses spake into the ears of the congregation of Israel the words of this song, until they were ended ( Deuteronomy 31:21-24 ),


Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 31". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/deuteronomy-31.html. 2014.
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