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Bible Commentaries

Kingcomments on the Whole Bible

Deuteronomy 3

Verses 1-7

Og Given in the Hand of Israel

Og has not been warned by Sihon’s defeat. Audaciously, relying on his own strength, he comes out to meet Israel to fight against them. With his gigantic length, which can be deducted from the size of his bed (Deuteronomy 3:11), he must have made a great impression on God’s people. Hence the encouragement of the LORD that they should not be afraid of him and that he would give him and his people and land in their hands. The previous victory, that over Sihon, is cited as evidence. As God spoke, so did He.

The victory over Og is often mentioned along with that over Sihon (Joshua 9:10; Psalms 135:10-1 Kings :; Psalms 136:19-Proverbs :). The areas ruled by these kings were the first areas to be conquered by Israel. They both lay on the eastern side or the wilderness side of the Jordan. For the Christian, they represent enemies with whom he will have to deal if he wants to take possession of the blessings of the heavenly land. Before that battle begins, the enemy he meets in everyday life must first be conquered.

In Sihon we meet a person who is proud and has a hardened heart. With him the emphasis is on the spirit, the intellect of man. He looks upon his possessions as his property; it is his. God is outside his thoughts. He is king of Heshbon. About the meaning of the name Heshbon, or Cheshbon, I got the following from a sister from Israel as an explanation:

‘Here is a brief explanation of Cheshbon. Each Hebrew verb consists of a root of usually three letters. In this case that is ch’sh’v (pronounce chashav) which means thinking or reflect on. The word cheshbon is used in the daily Ivriet of today for calculation lessons (at primary school) but also for an invoice or calculation.’

From this explanation we can make the application that in Sihon, who is king of Heshbon, we see someone who relies on his intellect, and who excludes God from his thinking. He says of his possessions: ‘I have worked hard for it, so why should I thank God for it?’ The question may be asked: How do we see for example our health and money and possessions? As something to which we are entitled and what we can use for ourselves or as something with which we can serve the Lord? The Lord wants us to learn to receive this as an inheritance from His hand. That is why we will have to conquer it in battle, that is to say, it is difficult to see our earthly blessings in this way.

With Og, the emphasis is more on the soul, the desire. He had a large bed. That’s the way Og enjoys what he has: in laziness and relaxation. Do we spend our holidays and leisure time as if it were something that belongs to us? We have to withdraw these things from Og’s area of power in order to do something with them for the Lord. The zeitgeist of the world also comes to us. We stand on our rights, without remembering that God has given us it. If these things make our thankfulness go to God, we will engage in ‘the land’.

We should not, by the way, go wrong to the other side either. We are not dead to everything of nature. Then we shouldn’t eat and drink anymore. The things of the earth are given to us by God and we thank Him for them, but they are not our specific Christian, heavenly blessings.

Og underwent the same fate as Sihon. The victory was great. After forty years of roaming through the wilderness, where they probably did not see a city, they are now facing fortresses that are considered impregnable. But for a people with God at her side, no obstacle is too great. No less than sixty fortified cities were taken and also “a great many unwalled towns”. With God, the weakest people are the most powerful enemies.

There was no struggle not to be conquered and to remain free, but there was a struggle to conquer and take possession. The enemies were expelled, not because of a cruel, avenging God. God is a merciful God. He always gives the opportunity to escape judgment, but He sends a righteous judgment over unrepentance.

Verses 8-17

The Part of the Two and a Half Tribe

In the victory over the two kings of the Amorites, Moses had a taste of the victories that the people will achieve in the land. After recounting the victory over the Amorites, he recalls the division of the area on the wilderness side of the Jordan among the two and a half tribe (Numbers 32:31-Matthew :). Here too he will have gained the same experience and tasted something of the division of the promised land when the people will be there.

Verses 18-20

Commitment of the Two and a Half Tribe

Moses does not forget that wilderness side of the Jordan is not the promised land. The land where the blessing of God is enjoyed is still before them. He recalls the two and a half tribe’s commitment to help conquer the land first.

We can learn from this that we should not only look for our own interests, but also for those of others (Philippians 2:4). If we ourselves have rest, we will seek it for our brothers. We are members of each other and in the blessing of our fellow believer is also our blessing. We will work towards that.

Verses 21-22

Joshua Encouraged by Moses

Moses, the elder believer, has encouraged Joshua, the younger believer. He showed him what God has done and what He has promised. Seeing something with one’s own eyes makes God’s acts of salvation towards His people actual for every generation. Moses uses this expression more often in this book (Deuteronomy 4:3; Deuteronomy 4:9Deuteronomy 7:19; Deuteronomy 9:17Deuteronomy 10:21; Deuteronomy 11:12Deuteronomy 34:4).

In Moses we also see here a picture of the Lord Jesus as the One Who died for us and also rose up. We see that in the picture of the Red Sea. Then we see how He leads us through the wilderness, which is a picture of what the world is for faith. Joshua is a picture of the Lord Jesus as the from the death risen and glorified Lord Who guides His people into the land and makes them share the blessing of the land.

Verses 23-25

Moses’ Prayer for Grace

Moses recalls how he begged the LORD if he could still enter the land. He does not speak here about his failure and the punishment of God, but about his desire to enter the land. After encouraging Joshua with a view to conquering the land, in Moses that deep desire to enter the land with the people will have risen.

He did not speak his question in rebellion. He has not asked to enter the land to be a leader, to assert himself. His question did not arise from envy of Joshua. To him it is about the land itself. He spoke with great admiration about the inheritance that the LORD has prepared for His people and called it “the fair land” and “that good hill country”. He fully appreciates the land of God. Just like Moses, the Lord Jesus looked forward to that land. It was to Him “the joy set before Him” (Hebrews 12:2). Do we give Him the occasion to introduce us into that land as the true Joshua?

Moses appealed to God to finish what He had begun. Moses has already been allowed to see so much of Him, especially in the conquest of the kingdoms of Sihon and Og; now he would also like to see the completion. God has said that He was not allowed to cross over. Nevertheless, he asked if he could cross over. Had not the LORD come back to something before by a prayer of Moses? Just think of God’s intention to exterminate the people after sin with the golden calf and after the refusal to enter the land. On the basis of Moses’ intercession, He has forgiven them (Numbers 14:20).

Verses 26-27

The Answer of the LORD

The LORD had become angry with Moses, but because on the account of the people. His deed was the result of the sin of the people (Psalms 106:32-Micah :). When we think about the inheritance, do we also think about the way in which we got it: because God was angry with the Lord Jesus on our account?

The answer of the LORD to the supplication of Moses is not a reproach. It is a prayer to God’s heart. Thus the Lord Jesus prayed three times if the cup He was to drink could be taken from Him (Matthew 26:39-Acts :). His perfection is evident from that prayer and from His surrender to God’s will: “Yet not as I will, but as You will.”

Paul also prayed three times that an angel of Satan who tormented him would leave him: “Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me” (2 Corinthians 12:7-Ruth :). He received an answer similar to the one Moses received: “My grace is sufficient for you” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Our prayer can please God without giving us what we ask for. He wants us to learn to entrust ourselves to His will. God and His peace as our part is more than anything we can ask for. When He says that we should no longer ask Him about a certain matter, we must learn that what He does not consider suitable to give us is not suitable for us to ask.

Yet Moses received an answer to his prayer. God allowed him to stand in a place from where he could see the whole land in its length and breadth (Numbers 27:12-2 Chronicles :; Deuteronomy 34:1-Numbers :). God has enabled him to look further than is conceivable with natural eyes. He has seen more than any Israelite would ever see. Not only is his gaze not darkened (Deuteronomy 34:7), God has clarified his gaze in such a way that he has been able to see the whole land. If God keeps something from us and we trust Him in it, He gives something in its place that goes beyond what we have asked for.

Verses 28-29

Joshua Will Bring the People into the Land

Strengthened by what the LORD shall show him, he was to give Joshua his charges, and to encourage and strengthen him. Moses knew what he was talking about when he handed over the leadership to Joshua and pointed out to him what to do. It must also have been an encouragement for Moses that the work the LORD started with him will be completed by Joshua. This is already the third time that the transfer of the leadership from Moses to Joshua is discussed (Deuteronomy 1:38; Deuteronomy 3:21-Song of Solomon :). It is important for Moses, for Joshua and for the people.

In the place where the people dwell, “opposite Beth-peor”, Moses makes his speech (Deuteronomy 4:45-1 Corinthians :). There he is also buried (Deuteronomy 34:6).

After reading Deuteronomy 2-3, a general conclusion is: God’s actions in the past are an encouragement for the future.

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Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Deuteronomy 3". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/deuteronomy-3.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniƫl', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.