The Dying Song of Moses
Deuteronomy 31:22-30
Moses therefore wrote this song the same day, and taught it the children of Israel.…

The subject of the song is Jehovah and His people, and the substance of it is given in Deuteronomy 32:3-6. The faithfulness of Jehovah, the God of truth, the Rock of salvation, and the unfaithfulness of His fickle and foolish people — such are clearly to be the main ideas of the song. In the after developments there are three things very powerfully set forth.

I. WHAT ISRAEL OWES TO GOD (vers. 7-14). Here the great things which God had done for them are brought out in a few bold delineations, mingling strength and pathos in a marvellous degree. He shows how from the beginning God had set His regardful eyes upon them, how He had guided the history of all other nations in a manner subservient to their welfare, making them and their development the historic centre of the ancient world; how He had found them poor, helpless wanderers in the wilderness, and formed them into a people there — His own people, whom He had fed and led and trained as a tender mother might — and at last brought into the goodly land He had promised them, exalting them high among the nations of the earth, and giving them richly all things to enjoy.

II. HOW WILL ISRAEL PAY THE DEBT? To this question the prophetic song gives a sad answer. Israel will pay her debt of gratitude to God by base ingratitude, beginning with self-indulgence, and going on to neglect of Jehovah and the worship of strange gods. Such is the sad prophetic picture in verses 15-18. Thus Israel requites God.

III. HOW WILL GOD REQUITE ISRAEL? Almost all that remains of the song is taken up with the fearful answer to this question, setting forth how God takes notice of it first, and is filled with indignation; how He hides His face and leaves His people to themselves and to the bitter fruits of their ingratitude; how He takes their precious privileges from them, and gives them to those who till then had been "no people"; how, finally, He lets loose on them all the fury of His vengeance, and utterly destroys their place and nation. All this we find realised in history. The entire history of the founding of the Christian Church, especially in the light in which it is put by the great apostle, who again and again quotes the words of this song in connection with the calling of the Gentiles, is a fulfilment of these warning words of Moses. All this is very dark; but it is dark only to those who "forsake God, and lightly esteem the Rock of their salvation" (ver. 15). The very faithfulness of God to His most terrible threatenings is an additional reason why those who believe in Him should exercise most unshaken confidence in Him. Then, too, if you examine the song throughout, you will find it full of evidence of the goodness and long-suffering of the Lord. Though there is inflexible justice, both in the prophecy itself and in its fulfilment, yet throughout all it is evident that He speaks and acts, "who delighteth not in the death of him that dieth"; who "willeth not that any should perish, but that all should turn unto him and live We have looked at this song as a witness against Israel. This was doubtless its original design; but its scope is far wider. This song was written for a witness against all who enjoy Israel's privileges and follow Israel's sins. Even among the Gentiles, though all are alike welcome, and exclusive privileges are now done away entirely in Christ Jesus, there have been and are those who are far in advance of others in respect to the advantages they enjoy. First came the Greek and Latin races, united in the mighty Roman Empire. To them first, among the Gentiles, the Gospel was preached; and by them first, as a nation and race, was the Gospel received. Three hundred years had not passed away from the death of "Jesus of Nazareth" till the faith of "that same Jesus" was the established religion of the Roman Empire; and not long thereafter the privileges of the Gospel were within reach of almost the whole of that vast population. What a change from the martyr days, the days of hiding in the catacombs! Was it not as true of the Christians of the Roman Empire as it was of ancient Israel, that God had "found them in a desert land," had "led them about," had "kept them as the apple of His eye," and had at last "made them ride upon the high places of the earth," and given them to "eat the increase of the fields"? Well, how did the favoured people then pay their debt of gratitude? Was it not the old story over again? "Jeshurun waxed fat and kicked." They "waxed fat, grew thick, were covered with fatness; then they forsook God, and lightly esteemed the Rock of their salvation." They became self-indulgent, "earthly, sensual, devilish." Corruption of manners and corruption of doctrine set in "like a flood;" they turned to "strange gods"; they worshipped saints and relics, and bowed down to images; they adored the consecrated wafer. The very light that was in them became darkness, and "how great was that darkness!" And as, before, the heritage of truth and blessing had passed from the Jew to the Gentile, so now it passed from the Roman to the Teuton. These Teutonic races of the north had been "no people" in the eyes of the empire of Rome. They had been known only as barbarians, both in the Greek and Latin tongues. Yet these "no people," these "barbarians," who had fallen one by one before the all-conquering might of Rome, became the very people who fell heirs to the legacy of Divine truth, and the great blessings which accompany its possession. For, though the first reformation seemed for a time to work among the Latin races also, it was only for a time; the hold of corruption was too firm for it to last, and they all relapsed into the darkness from which at first they had seemed ready to emerge, while among the Germanic races the light of truth continued to shine and to diffuse itself over a widening area. And now it is the Teutonic races who are in the position of Israel of old, and principally those who speak the English language. Who can tell what we who speak the English tongue owe to Jehovah, "the Rock of our salvation"? Where did He "find" us? Was it not "in a desert land" indeed — a very howling wilderness? See what the early Britons were when first they heard Jehovah's name. And how has the Lord "led" them since then! How tenderly did He "bear" our fathers on, teaching them by degrees the use of that liberty which has grown with Britain's growth, and strengthened with her strength. And how has He now "made us to ride upon the high places of the earth," and given "us the increase of the fields"! For is it not a patent fact that the destinies of the world are at this moment, under God, swayed by those who speak our mother tongue, while the great mass of the world's wealth is ill their hands? And all this we owe to Him who is "Head over all things." Not only our rich spiritual privileges, but even our temporal greatness, our and position and power and wealth in the world, we owe to Jehovah, God of Israel, "the Rock of our salvation." Well, how do we "requite the Lord"? Is it not very much in the old way? Is not wealth breeding self-indulgence and luxury; and are not these leading us, as a people, to forget God, and "lightly to esteem the Rock of our salvation"? Are there not many "strange gods" among us: Mammon, Fashion, Pleasure? And what of this sad revival of Middle-Age superstition? Has not the sign of Rome been written with a pen of iron and the point of a diamond? And why this haste to be partakers again of her sin and of her plagues? Oh, is not this song a witness against us too? God is long-suffering indeed, and it is well that He is, or where should we English-speaking people be today? But His long-suffering has a limit, as is evident from the past.

(J. M. Gibson, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Moses therefore wrote this song the same day, and taught it the children of Israel.

WEB: So Moses wrote this song the same day, and taught it the children of Israel.

Farewell Song of Moses
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