Home / Commentary / Deuteronomy / Deuteronomy Chapter 32
Moses called on all creation to be a witness to a lawsuit the LORD brings against His covenant people. It also contains a proclamation of the name of the LORD.
Moses contrasts God’s justice, steadfast love, and faithfulness with Israel’s foolishness and apostasy.
Moses reminded the Israelites that the Suzerain (Ruler) God elected them and had taken them as His own inheritance.
Moses recounted some of the works of the Suzerain (Ruler) God to His vassals (servants), Israel. God serves as a shepherd, protector, and as father for His often-unfaithful people. The Israelites have every reason to trust and obey their spiritual father because He has always been faithful to them.
The Israelites rejected the Suzerain God because He has blessed them to the point of excess.
The Suzerain (Ruler) God says He will reject His chosen people because they have abandoned Him.
The Suzerain (Ruler) God says He will use various tools such as famine, disease, war, wild beasts, and venomous snakes to carry out His judgment on His disobedient vassals, Israel.
Moses then commented on the LORD’s decision to judge Israel. His covenant people lack wisdom and understanding, leading them to worship the pagan gods of their enemies. This resulted in the LORD’s severe judgment upon His people.
The Suzerain God pronounces judgment on Israel’s enemies because they misinterpret His actions. They think they are powerful because they defeat Israel, but it is God who gives Israel over because of their disobedience. Vengeance belongs to God.
The Suzerain (Ruler) God will judge His covenant people and also show compassion to them when they desperately seek Him.
Moses quoted the Suzerain God who says that He alone is God and that there are no other gods besides Him. Because of this, He will avenge Israel by inflicting punishment on the pagan nations.
Moses now comments on the LORD’s speech as he invites the nations to join in the celebration of God’s gracious acts on Israel’s behalf.
Moses completes the Song of Moses for Israel to sing and remember their covenant with Him. This is just prior to the time when Moses will die, and Joshua will lead the people across the Jordan into the Promised Land.
After reciting his song to the Israelites (vv. 1-43), Moses exhorts them to covenant faithfulness, calling them to take everything to heart to live long in the Promised Land.
After Moses’s recitation of the song and final exhortation to Israel, the Suzerain God commands him the same day to go up Mount Nebo to view the Promised Land from afar and to die there on the mountain.
The book of Deuteronomy is the fifth and last book of the Torah (“law”). It continues the story of the first 4 books and picks up exactly where the book of Numbers ends (with the people on the plain of Moab). Therefore, as we set the context for the book of Deuteronomy, it is important that we briefly summarize the theme of the previous books to see how the story of God unfolds.
Genesis describes God’s plan to bless the Israelites and the world through one man named Abraham (Gen. 12:1-3). Exodus focuses on God’s loving act by which He rescued the Israelites from Egypt in order to have a covenant relationship with them. Once the children of Israel are redeemed, Leviticus instructs them to live a holy life that reflects the life of their covenant redeemer (cf. Lev. 19). Since the first generation of the Israelites failed to obey God wholeheartedly, the book of Numbers displays a strong contrast between God’s faithfulness and the nation’s failure. That is why the book of Deuteronomy reiterates and expands on the covenant to a new generation of Israelites poised to enter and conquer the Promised Land. The message of the book is centered around two key terms: love and loyalty (Deut. 6:4-5).
Outline of Deuteronomy:
I. Introduction: Moses will explain the law (1:1 – 5)
II. Moses’ First Sermon – a Recounting of the LORD’s Faithfulness (1:6 – 4:43)
III. Introduction to Second Sermon on expositing the Law (4:43 – 49)
IV. Moses’ Second Sermon – an Exposition of the Law Given at Mt. Sinai (5:1 – 26:19)
V. Script for Covenant Renewal Ceremony Once they enter the land (27:1 – 29:1)
VI. Moses’ Third Sermon – a Call to Obedience (29:2 – 30:20)
VII. The Last Acts of Moses (31:1 – 34:12)
Deuteronomy 32 contains what is called the Song of Moses. In the previous chapter, the LORD commanded Moses to write the song and teach it to Israel (31:19). The present chapter contains that song which is laid out in poetic form in verses 1-43.
After the song was written, Moses read it in the presence of the Israelites and exhorted them to remain faithful to the covenant LORD. The purpose of the song was to help Israel remember the lessons they had learned.
Once this was done, Moses climbed to the top of Mount Nebo to gaze upon the Promised Land and prepare for his death.
Deuteronomy 32 can be outlined as follows: