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Deuteronomy 32:15  (King James Version)
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<< Deuteronomy 32:14   Deuteronomy 32:16 >>


Deuteronomy 32:15

Jeshurun is a code name for Israel. It literally means "the upright one." The word may have been written with a certain measure of sarcasm. Or, it may have been written as a warning to this "upright one"—Jeshurun or Israel—about when he was most likely to fall to the enemy.

This is an interesting warning from God of the power of affluence to turn a person away. It is such a subtle form of persecution that we bask in it. It does not have to be a form of persecution or trial; it depends on our mindset. However, we must realize the power that it has. God is prophesying that the affluent's lack of character to handle the wealth is really what destroys them.

According to John Wesley—the founder of Methodism—wealth has destroyed the godliness of more people than any other thing. One might think, "I am not wealthy," but Wesley defined a wealthy person as anyone who had food, clothing, a place to sleep, and just a little bit left over each day. According to this definition, nearly every one of us qualifies as being wealthy. The problem with wealth is that it demands that we manage it and that we take care of what it provides. If we are not careful, it can be a consuming distraction. This is what John Wesley means.

It does not have to be that way. This is obvious from the fact that the Bible reports to us that Abraham was very wealthy. He was not just rich—he was very rich. David, too, was very rich. These were two great men in the eyes of God. The problem is that hardly anybody can use wealth in the right way, that is, manage it without it becoming a consuming occupation in itself. Yet, of and by itself, wealth is a neutral.

Most of us do not have the mindset of wealth's neutrality, which is a defense, because we have been reared in a culture that is wealthy, and it keeps prodding us to become wealthier and wealthier. It promotes the idea that we are nobody unless we possess wealth. This tends to work against us, making wealth difficult for us to control.

The Bible and the church are not against wealth, but we have to be aware of what the Bible says about it—that it can be one of the greatest deterrents to spirituality that we could possibly be given. Maybe God is blessing us when he does not prosper us so much. . . .

John W. Ritenbaugh
Endure as a Good Soldier



Deuteronomy 32:15

Jeshurun, meaning "the upright," is a poetical name for Israel carried over from her earlier uprightness, before she took for granted the physical and spiritual blessings that God provided. The metaphor Moses uses derives from a pampered animal that, instead of being tame and gentle, becomes mischievous and vicious as a result of good living and spoiled treatment. Israel did this in various acts of rebellion, murmuring, and idolatrous apostasy.

Martin G. Collins
Gluttony: A Lack of Self-Control (Part Two)



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 32:15

This prophecy regarding Israel confirms the power and influence of wealth. For a Christian today, living in a society whose wealth far exceeds the wildest dreams of most people on earth, this power of wealth cannot be ignored. We need to thank God for the opportunity to live in a nation receiving the blessings of Abraham, but we cannot allow its influence to change our attitudes toward God.

Does wealth or poverty have any intrinsic spiritual value? Physically, it is better to be wealthy, but riches can turn one's head spiritually. Incidentally, poverty has that same power because a poor person can become so busy with the cares of his daily existence, that he forgets God. That is why Solomon advises in Proverbs 30:8-9, "[G]ive me neither poverty nor riches—feed me with the food You prescribe for me; lest I be full and deny You, and say, 'Who is the LORD?' Or lest I be poor and steal, and profane the name of my God."

John W. Ritenbaugh
The World, the Church, and Laodiceanism



Deuteronomy 32:15-21

This is a prophecy, but it is also a typical human reaction to God. It is not just an Israelite peculiarity or weakness. God reveals Himself, and mankind loves it—at first. Then the relationship begins to deteriorate for a variety of reasons. Some become bored, while others grow impatient, wanting things to move faster. Some refuse to conform, not realizing how much the relationship would demand of them. Some lose interest as other things gradually become more important to them. Some become frustrated because they expected a free ride from an indulgent "sugar daddy." Some lose sight of how much more wonderful, powerful, and brilliant the relationship will be in the future. Many forget their obligation to Him for what He has done for them.

Whatever the reason, it is mankind that finds a reason to destroy the relationship because it is not in his nature to have one of the quality that God desires! Human nature will not remain constant in its affections for God. From the time of a person's birth until God finally calls him, the impressionable mind develops an enmity that he cannot completely control (Romans 8:6). The history of God's contact with humanity proves this—even with converted people.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part Eleven)




Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Deuteronomy 32:15:

Hosea 10:1-2
Amos 8:11-12
Matthew 13:31-32

 

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