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Deuteronomy 32:4  (King James Version)
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<< Deuteronomy 32:3   Deuteronomy 32:5 >>


Deuteronomy 32:1-4

This description of God is exactly the opposite of that of America's national character. Our God is a God of truth, meaning He is unswervingly faithful. He is the Rock, implying One who is impervious to change. He is our Foundation, indicating One who provides firm footing in a way of life. He is our Fountain, the Source of a refreshing, productive way of life that He intends His people to use.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Ninth Commandment



Deuteronomy 32:1-43

Moses' life was full of lessons and instruction, and at the end of his life, he left Israel and us a song that encapsulates much of what he learned about godly living. This is not apparent at first because it seems to be a prophecy of Israel's future, but Moses himself tells us in Deuteronomy 32:2 that his song concerns "doctrine" (KJV) or "teaching" (NKJV).

What is the doctrine he is trying to explain to us? The doctrine of God Himself! In this song, Moses is "proclaim[ing] the name of the LORD" (see also Exodus 33:12-23; 34:1-9)! He summarizes in Deuteronomy 32:4 exactly what he means: "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." An accurate conception of God is a Christian's first concern, for if we truly understand God, we will respond properly to Him and live in a godly manner.

Moses' song breaks down into five sections:

1) Introduction (verses 1-4);
2) God's faithfulness versus Israel's faithlessness (verses 5-18);
3) God's just chastisement of Israel (verses 19-33);
4) God's eventual compassion on Israel (verses 34-42);
5) Conclusion (verse 43).

From this simple summary of the song, we can see the main themes Moses is attempting to expound. First, God is always faithful, right, just, provident, and merciful in all His dealings with Israel. God Himself "found" Israel, and nurtured, protected, and instructed its people "as the apple of His eye" (verse 10). He gave them the best and "choicest" of the earth (verse 14).

Second, the Israelites always forsook Him and turned to other gods, even to the point of sacrificing to demons (verses 15-18). It is the height of irony that Moses uses the term "Jeshurun" to name Israel, as it means "upright one"! Whether this means that God saw Israel in this idealistic way or this is how the Israelites saw themselves is not known, but their actions certainly show them not to be worthy of the name.

Third, God's reaction to their idolatry—various deadly disasters ending in scattering (verses 23-26)—is justified by their faithlessness to the covenant (verses 19-20). Even so, God restrains His wrath, "fearing" (that is, "worried" or "concerned") that Israel's enemies would misunderstand His actions against Israel and take credit for its downfall themselves (verse 27). Moses concludes this section by saying that this happened to Israel because they failed in two areas: 1) foreseeing the consequences of their behavior, and 2) failing to understand God's character.

Fourth, though God takes vengeance and inflicts punishment, He is also a God of compassion and mercy (verses 35-36). Once He sees that the remnant of Israel learns its lesson—that the gods they worshipped are nothing compared to the true God (verses 37-39)—He will pardon them so they can resume their relationship. Maybe then they will understand that what God says He will do—and does in abundance (verses 40-42)!

To conclude the song, Moses brings in a New Covenant image of the Gentiles rejoicing with Israel because God is faithful to His promises and will provide atonement for His people (verse 43). As Paul shows in Romans 15:8-12, it is through the atoning work of Jesus Christ that salvation has come to both Israelite and Gentile, and they can now sing praises together as His people, spiritual Israel.

After the song was sung, Moses gives Israel a final bit of advice: "Set your hearts on all the words which I testify among you today. . . . For it is not a futile thing for you, because it is your life, and by this word you shall prolong your days . . ." (Deuteronomy 32:46-47). Because of our calling, we have an even greater reason to take this advice from God's servant Moses, a psalmist.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Moses, Psalmist (Part 4)



Deuteronomy 32:4

Our God is a God of truth. He is the Rock, the immovable Foundation of this way of life. The Hebrew word for "Rock" indicates firmness, stability, and faithfulness. What would it be like to worship a God whose "truth" changed from time to time? Could such a God be trusted? The Greek word for "True" in Revelation 19:11 means much the same thing, but it carries the additional sense of "real" or "genuine." There is nothing—absolutely nothing—false, deceitful, evasive, or variable in His character, His Word, or His example.

What does this mean practically? Who are the most important people in a community, state, or nation? Not the doctors, lawyers, teachers, entertainers, military personnel, or businessmen. Considering how much God's Word concentrates on the preachers and kings, God indicates these two win in a landslide.

It might be difficult to say which of these two is more important, but a slight edge seems to go to the ministry. Christ came first as a rabbi and Savior, teaching and living the values that form the foundation of God's way. At His return, He will come to administer them. This is why God devotes so much space to these two in the Bible. The preacher must teach and live the values, and the king must live and administer them.

Without true values, civilization will not continue long but descend into revolution and anarchy. God's Word, His doctrine, is true and faithful just as He is. It is a reflection of His nature and character. Any society or family built on it will prosper and become great in godly terms. Jesus' first coming left mankind without excuse regarding the eternal question, "What is truth?"

Jesus says in John 14:6, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." Many can say, "I have told you the truth," but Jesus not only told it, He embodied it. He put truth into a visible, concrete form so all who want to see it can.

What credibility that gives to one's teaching! A person can teach us a mathematical, grammatical, spelling, geographical, or historical truth, and what his character is like matters little. But if a person teaches moral truth, his example, character, conduct, and attitudes are all-important. Who wants to be lectured on purity by an adulterer or on honesty by a liar and thief?

Jesus lived what He taught with total purity and never a shadow of turning. He was absolutely stable, firm, and reliable, the real, genuine representative of eternal life, the way of life that He will establish on earth at His return.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Ninth Commandment (1997)




Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Deuteronomy 32:4:

Deuteronomy 32:1-43
Matthew 7:24
Luke 6:48
Hebrews 4:15

 

<< Deuteronomy 32:3   Deuteronomy 32:5 >>



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