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Bible Commentaries

Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary

Deuteronomy 4

Verses 1-8

DEUTERONOMY - CHAPTER FOUR

Verses 1-8:

"Now therefore. . ." refers to what God had done for Israel, and points to what Israel should do as God’s people in view of His care for them. Israel’s duty: to give heed to God’s laws in order that they might keep them.

"Statutes" choo, "decreed limit," things prescribed by law, dealing with matters moral, civil, or ritual.

"Judgments" mishpat, public or private rights, judicial decrees whether written or oral.

Use of these two terms referred to the entire body of Law which God handed down from Sinai, whether written or oral, dealing with every aspect of Israel’s life.

Obedience to the Law was not to be selective. They were not at liberty to choose to obey one part of the Law and ignore another part. Nothing must be taken from it, and nothing added to it, see Revelation 22:18-19.

"Commandments," mitavah, "precepts," God’s statement of righteous principles.

Baal-peor, see Psalms 106:28 and the comments on Numbers 25:3-9.

"Followed," a common expression denoting adherence to a religion.

"Cleave," dabeq "adhere to," the term used in Genesis 2:24. It denotes a close, intimate attachment.

The things which Moses had taught Israel were not his; they were the laws of Jehovah.

Verse 6: keeping of the Law is closely related to wisdom and understanding, Ephesians 5:16-17.

"Wisdom" may be defined as "viewing from God’s perspective." It is the gift of God, James 1:5. Real wisdom has as its source the "fear of the Lord," Proverbs 1:7; Proverbs 9:10; Psalms 111:10.

"Understanding" may be defined as "acting from God’s perspective." It is the product of godly wisdom.

The secret of true greatness in any nation is that its rulers and people be guided by the wisdom which comes from God.

Verses 9-13

Verses 9-13:

Israel was to be particularly mindful of the awesome experience at Mount Sinai, when God gave the Law, including the Ten Commandments, and which were engraved by His own finger upon two tablets of stone, see Exodus 19:9; Exodus 19:16-25; Exodus 24:9-12, the comments on these passages.

Verses 14-20

Verses 14-20:

The text contains Moses’ direction for Israel when they should enter the Land of Promise, to guide their religious, social, and political life.

When God spoke to Israel at Mount Horeb (Exodus 19), it was by His voice thundering from the thick darkness of the cloud. The people saw no visible form accompanying the voice. This teaches that the eye of man cannot view the form of God. Therefore, man should not presume to fashion any kind of image or likeness of God, by which he would worship Him. Neither is man to look into the heavens at the sun, moon, planets, or stars to discern the Person of God.

This text expresses the spirit of the first two of the Ten Commandments, Exodus 20:1-6.

This command embodies a principle relevant in every age, see John 4:19-24. God reveals His glory and His wrath in the planets or stars, Psalms 19:1-4; Romans 1:18. But He reveals His Person in Jesus Christ, John 1:14; John 1:18.

Verses 21-24

Verses 21-24:

The text is another reference to the incident recorded in Numbers 20:7-13; see comments on Deuteronomy 1:37.

Although Moses was not to enter the "good land," those to whom he spoke would enter it, and possess it as their inheritance. The text is his warning that they not forget Jehovah and turn to other gods. See Exodus 20:5; Exodus 24:17; Deuteronomy 9:3; Hebrews 12:29.

Verses 25-28

Verses 25-28:

The text is a warning for future generations of Israel, against violation of the First and Second Commandments, Exodus 20:3-7. Scripture history reveals that they did not remember and observe this warning, but turned from God to worship idols like the nations about them. The calamities of which Moses warned came upon them, as the Books of 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles reveal.

Israel’s disobedience has caused God to uproot His people from their Land, and to scatter them among the nations. Part of the nation was carried into captivity to Assyria, 2 Kings 17:6-41. Later, the remainder was exiled into Babylon, 2 Kings 25:1-12; 2 Chronicles 36:14-21. After seventy years, a remnant returned to the Land, 2 Chronicles 36:22; Ezra and Nehemiah. But in AD 70, the Romans once more expelled the Jews from their Land, as God had said, see Ezekiel 33:23-29; Daniel 9:24-26; Luke 21:19-24.

Verses 29-37

Verses 29-37:

The text describes the nature of genuine repentance: a turning away from sin, unto obedience to God and His ways. Repentance involves the total man: heart and soul. Heart refers to the innermost being of man: his spirit. Soul refers to the volition of man: his mind, will, and emotions. Repentance is a change of attitude, an "about face" of man’s concept of God and self and sin.

True repentance is vital to salvation, Luke 13:3, whether of the soul or of the life. It is not mere remorse, or regret of being caught in sin. It is a genuine change, and brings sorrow, see 2 Corinthians 7:10.

God promises to hear the cry of His penitent people, and deliver them from their distress. This does not mean that He condones their sin, nor that He treats it as of no consequence. It is because of His covenant that He extends His mercies, 2 Chronicles 7:14-15.

Verses 38-40

Verses 38-40:

The text of Moses’ reminder of the unique role of Israel among the world’s nations. To no other nation has God appeared as He did to Israel. He has chosen to dwell among no other people in the manner of Israel. No other nation has experienced the miraculous delivery from bondage to a strong nation, as has Israel.

God chose Israel for one primary purpose: to demonstrate His sovereignty, and His primacy as the one True God of Heaven and earth.

What God asked of Israel in return was simple: that the nation fear (reverence) Him, serve Him, and obey His laws. He promised long life, prosperity, and peace for Israel’s future generations if they would do this. The secret of their peaceful possession of the Land was to love, fear, and serve God.

This principle applies to God’s people today. Blessings come by obedience; calamities come by disobedience.

Verses 41-43

Verses 41-43:

"Sever," badal, "to separate."

This is a notation of the three Cities of Refuge in Israel’s territory on the east of Jordan, in keeping with God’s command in Numbers 35:9-29, q.v. The three cities were,

(1) Bezer, meaning "strong," a city in the territory of Reuben, in the plain or table-land formerly of the Amorites. It was inhabited by the Merarites, Joshua 20:8; Joshua 21:35. The present location is uncertain.

(2) Ramoth in Gilead, probably the same as Ramoth-mizpeh, on the Jabbok, from the tribe of Gad.

(3) Golan in Bashan, from the tribe of Manasseh.

Verses 44-49

Verses 44-49:

This text is a summary of chapters 2:24-3:37, q.v.

"Testimonies," edah, "to give witness." This term emphasizes the oral or spoken portion of God’s Law.

"Statutes" and "judgments," see comments on verse 5.

Sion, another name for Hermon; not the same as mount Zion or mount Sion, the southwestern hill of Jerusalem, 2 Samuel 5:7, et. al.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Blessed Hope Foundation and the Baptist Training Center.
Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 4". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/deuteronomy-4.html. 1985.