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Bible Commentaries

L. M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible
Deuteronomy 25

 

 

Verses 1-19

JUSTICE TEMPERED WITH MERCY

(vs.1-3)

In the law courts the judges must mete out proper justice, yet not to exceed the limits of justice. If one was guilty of serious crime, it was right to have him beaten, lying down. But never was he to receive more than forty strokes. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 11:24, "From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one." The Jews at least respected this particular law, for they lessened the number to 39 in case they had miscounted. But they treated Paul as they would the worst criminal.

It may seem strange that at this place verse 4 is inserted, "You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads the corn." But this illustrates the fact that only the spiritual application can explain it. This is supplied in 1 Corinthians 9:9-10, when Paul tells us this verse is written for our sakes. The ox speaks of one who labors for the Lord, who therefore is entitled to the consideration of being allowed to be supported by his labors. Though one guilty of serious crime was to be punished (vs.1-3), one who labored for the Lord was to be rewarded.

IN CASE OF A HUSBAND'S DEATH

(vs.5-10)

This law had application only in cases of brothers living together. If one of them was married, yet died having no son, his brother was not to marry an outsider, but was to take his deceased brother's widow as his wife (v.5). (Of course this was only in cases where the living brother had not married before.) But if a son was born of the newly married couple, he was to be the successor of the first husband, so that his name would remain in Israel (v.6). After that any sons born would be those of the second husband.

It might be, however, that the man would not want his brother's wife. In this case the wife was allowed to bring the matter to the court (in the gate of the city) and the elders could call the man and seek to persuade him to marry the widow (vs.7-8). If he should firmly refuse to marry her, then the widow would be permitted to remove the sandal from the man's foot and spit in his face saying at the same time, "So shall it be done to the man who will not build up his brother's house" (v.9). This is why, in Ruth 4:1-8, a closer relative than Boaz had his sandal taken off when he could not take the place of husband to Ruth. This relative represents the law, which was in close relationship to Israel, but was helpless to redeem that nation. Boaz pictures the Lord Jesus, the only One who can redeem, to build up the house of one whose hope was gone, taking off the sandal had become a custom in Israel, but spitting in the face is not mentioned. Spitting speaks of the contempt of the one for the other, while the sandal removed signified the confessed weakness of the one in the presence of a superior, just as the law must confess its weakness in contrast to Christ, the Man of strength and of infinite grace.

FURTHER MISCELLANEOUS LAWS

(vs.11-16)

The judgment for a woman in verses 11 and 12 is extremely severe, but it was for an action totally unbecoming to a woman In fact, even a man would hesitate to act in this way. But to have a hand cut off would be a traumatic reminder of her guilty action for the rest of her life.

Having differing weights is forbidden, one weight being large, the other small, one for selling, the other for buying, so that the user might be able to cheat the other party (v.14). Spiritually too, we should be careful not to have one measure of judgment for a certain case and another measure for another case. Weights and measures must be perfect and just. One pound is to be precisely one pound, one yard precisely one yard. Strict honesty in such things would lengthen the days of an Israelite in the land (v.15). More than this, those who violate such principles of honesty are called by God "an abomination to the Lord your God." God takes full account.

AMALEK TO BE DESTROYED

(vs.17-19)

This section is closely connected with the previous verses. Amalek had attacked Israel as they came out of Egypt, striking all the stragglers whom they knew would be the weakest, the most tired and weary (Exodus 17:8-16). Israel was not to forget this hateful animosity, but when settled in their land they were to "blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven" (v.19).

Why was such a total judgment necessary? Because Amalek pictures "the lusts of the flesh" which war against our souls. God will not allow such things to be spared, and it is important that we take sides with God against the lustful desires that both dishonor God and harm our own souls. When King Saul was told by God through Samuel to attack and utterly destroy Amalek (1 Samuel 15:2-3), he gained the victory over them, but spared their king, Agag (v.8) and the best of the livestock (v.9). He was not only solemnly reproved for this, but told, "Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He also has rejected you from being king" (1 Samuel 15:22-23). If we spare our own sinful lusts, we are in no condition to lead others.

 


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Bibliography Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 25:4". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lmg/deuteronomy-25.html. 1897-1910.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, September 16th, 2019
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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