Deut. 31, Psalm 119:97-120, Isaiah 58, Matthew 6

DateVersionReading Plan
@June 26, 2024ESV (2016)M’Cheyne Plan 2024

Deut. 31

Deuteronomy 31:16 (ESV) 16 And the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, you are about to lie down with your fathers. Then this people will rise and whore after the foreign gods among them in the land that they are entering, and they will forsake me and break my covenant that I have made with them.

The LORD told Moses that, following his death, the people would break the LORD’s covenant and whore after the gods of the lands into which the LORD had given them. We see in this Moses’ true prophetic role as someone to whom God spoke of events that would transpire. As the FSB Notes makes clear, “When they break their contract with Yahweh, they will become subject to the penalties outlined in Deut 28:15–68.”

Psalm 119:97-120

Psalm 119:113, 20 (ESV) 113 I hate the double-minded, but I love your law. … 120 My flesh trembles for fear of you, and I am afraid of your judgments.

In the section of Samekh, the psalmist opens with the love of God’s law and closes with the fear of His judgments. The presence of both of these emotions conveys how they can and should co-exist. Those whose hearts have been brought to life by the Spirit will be stirred to love the law out of love for the Lawgiver. Where there was once rebellion and opposition to the law, there is now a joyful obedience. But this is still coupled with a healthy fear and reverence of the Lord. Illumination of one’s sin is directly tied to the awareness of its penalty and deserving judgment apart from the substitutionary work of God through Christ. The revelation and subsequent mortification of sin is to lead one to repentance, putting to death one’s sin and selfish motivations and turning to God to follow Him in all His ways.

Isaiah 58

Isaiah 58:3–4 (ESV) 3 ‘Why have we fasted, and you see it not? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?’ Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure, and oppress all your workers. 4 Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to hit with a wicked fist. Fasting like yours this day will not make your voice to be heard on high.

The people fasted but it was rooted in selfish motivation. Fasting is a good thing and, done properly, is an appropriate act of worship of the LORD. A Christ-centered fast is one in which we can dedicate ourselves to Him in prayer, convey that our hearts desire for Him more than physical sustenance, convey how we rely on Him to supply our every need and to reach a new level of appreciation for His provision. However, a fast can also be done wrongly as an empty, self-seeking gesture of ritualism, from which there is no benefit. The example given here of the Israelites who fasted dishonorably should give us pause, that as we enter a fast it would be entirely focused on glorifying our Lord and drawing closer to Him.

Matthew 6

Matthew 6:16–18 (ESV) 16 “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

What a wonderful connection and further explication of fasting to the previous reflection in Isaiah. Jesus speaks of how fasting is not to be conducted hypocritically or for external appearances. He goes as far as to say that our fasting should not even be noticeable to others, but only to God who sees in secret. The reward is not the attention of others but of Him whom we aim to glorify in our honorable and worshipful conduct.

Carson on Deuteronomy 31

The Israelites will learn, as it were, a national anthem that will speak against them if they shut down all the other God-given calls to remember and obey.

The idea of Moses’ song being a national anthem is interesting. National anthems often convey messages of patriotism and allegiance but, in this case, it was a reminder of the consequences that would befall the people if they did what was evil and thus provoke the LORD to anger. In a sense, it was a mnemonic device that was to be taught to the people and serve as a witness for God against the people of Israel.