v1 Listen, heavens, and I will speak.
Oh earth, hear the words that I say.
v2 My lessons will come down like the rain.
My words will form on the earth like the mist in the morning.
They will be like showers of rain on new grass,
They will be like much rain on young plants.
v3 I will call aloud the name of the *LORD.
Oh, tell people that our God is very great!
v4 He is the rock that is strong. What he does is perfect.
He is a *faithful God. He does not do anything that is wrong.
He does what is right and fair.
v5 The people have not been *faithful to him.
They are not his children. They are *sinful and foolish.
v6 You should not deal with the *LORD in that way.
You are foolish and stupid people.
The *LORD is your father. He created you.
He made you into a nation and he made you firm.’
The song describes a *trial in a court. The place where God lives and the earth are like *witnesses in this *trial. Moses praises God. God is great and he is perfect. God made his people and he protects them too. God’s lessons are like the rain. The rain helps young plants to grow. In a similar way, God’s lessons should have a good effect on his people. God looks after his people. But the people have been foolish. They have not been *faithful or grateful.
v7 ‘Remember a long time ago. Think about the *generations in the past.
Ask your father. He will tell you what happened.
Ask your leaders to tell you the story.
v8 God, who is the great God, divided the land between the different nations.
He decided where the boundaries should be.
He made the boundaries of the *tribes of the *Israelites that depended on their size.
v9 The *LORD’s share was his people.
He chose Jacob’s *descendants as his special people.
v10 The *LORD found the *Israelites in a *desert.
It was empty and strong winds blew across it.
He guarded and looked after the *Israelites.
He protected them as he would protect his own eyes.
v11 He was like an eagle that teaches its young birds to fly.
The large bird called the eagle spreads its wings to catch its young birds.
And it carries them on its strong feathers.
v12 The *LORD alone led his people.
No false god helped them.
v13 God let them rule the mountains.
He fed them with the harvest that came from the fields.
He satisfied them with honey that came from the rocks.
He gave them oil from the hard rock.
v14 The cows and the goats in *Israel gave plenty of milk.
*Israel had fat sheep and male sheep from the region called Bashan.
And *Israel had goats and the finest wheat.
*Israelites drank wine from the juice of the *grape.’
This section shows what God had done for his people. God chose the nation called *Israel from among the nations. He prepared a special country for them. He brought them through the *desert. He looked after them like an eagle looks after its young birds. (An eagle is a very large bird.) He provided all that they would need in the country. There were no false gods to lead the *Israelites away from the right actions.
v15 ‘The *LORD’s people became rich and they refused to obey him.
They ate and they became fat.
They left the God who had made them.
God had protected them; God had saved them.
But they did not honour him.
v16 They made God jealous because they served false gods.
They made him angry because they *worshipped terrible *idols.
v17 They *sacrificed to devils and they did not *sacrifice to God.
The *Israelites had not known those false gods in the past.
Those false gods were new to them.
The *Israelite *ancestors did not *worship them.
v18 You did not follow the God who protected you.
He made you. You forgot the God who made you live.’
In this section, Moses accuses the *Israelites. They were like fat animals that would not follow their owner. *Israelites served false gods and they did not continue to trust God. Some false gods were the new ones that they had met in their new country. They had forgotten the God who had created them. Moses had seen that kind of thing happen before this. Remember the story about the young cow that Aaron had made out of gold. (See Exodus 32.) Moses knew what would happen in the future.
v19 ‘The *LORD saw it with disgust.
His sons and his daughters made him angry.
v20 “I will not continue to be with them,” he said.
“I will see what happens to them.
They refuse to obey me and I cannot trust them.
v21 They made me jealous with their false gods that have no value.
Their *idols have no value, and those *idols made me angry.
I will cause a nation that has no value to make *Israel jealous.
I will use a foolish nation to make *Israel angry.
v22 My anger will be like a fire.
It will burn down to hell.
My anger will *destroy the earth and its harvests.
It will make the base of the mountains burn with fire.
v23 I will send many *disasters upon *Israel.
I will use up all my arrows against them.
v24 The *Israelites will become weak because of hunger.
They will be very hot in their bodies and they will have terrible diseases.
I will send wild animals to attack them.
I will send poisonous snakes to bite them.
v25 There will be war in their streets and there will be terror in their homes.
Young men and young women will die. Babies and old men will all die.
v26 I said that I would scatter the *Israelites.
Nobody will remember them.
v27 But I was afraid that their enemies would be proud.
They would not understand.
Their enemies would say, ‘We have defeated them.
The *LORD has not done it.’ ”
v28 People in *Israel do not listen to advice.
They do not have any wisdom.
v29 If they were wise they would understand this.
Then they would know what would happen to them finally.
v30 One man could not possibly chase 1000 men.
Two men could not cause 10 000 men to run away.
That could happen only if God, their strong Rock, would not help them.
It could happen only if the *LORD had left them.
v31 The false gods of our enemies are not like our God, the strong rock.
Our enemies know that this is true.
v32 Their enemies are as bad as the people from Sodom and Gomorrah.
Their enemies are like plants that produce poisonous and bitter *grapes.
v33 Their wine is like the poison of snakes.
v34 “I will remember this.
I will store it in a safe place.
v35 I will get *revenge. I will punish those people who do wrong things.
The time will come when they will suffer defeat.
Their day of *disaster is near.
Their punishment will happen quickly.”
v36 The *LORD will make a judgement on his people.
He will have *mercy on his servants.
He will see that they have lost their strength.
Nobody remains, slave or free.
v37 Then he will say, “Their gods have not been able to do anything.
They were sure that their false gods would protect them.
v38 They fed those false gods with their *sacrifices.
They gave them wine from their *drink offerings.
Let those false gods come. And let them help you!
Let them protect you!
v39 I am the only God.
There is no real god apart from me.
I kill and I make alive.
I cause injuries and I will cure.
Nobody can rescue anyone from my hand.
v40 I am the God who lives for always. I raise my hand towards heaven.
I promise this to you.
v41 I will make my sharp sword to shine.
I will hold it in my hand to bring *judgement.
I will get *revenge on my enemies.
I will punish those who hate me.
v42 The blood of my enemies will cover my arrows.
My sword will kill those who oppose me.
Blood will flow from those who die and from the prisoners.
My sword will cut off the heads of the leaders of the enemy.”
v43 Oh nations, be happy with God’s people.
God will punish those who kill his people.
God will get *revenge on his enemies.
God will remove the *sins of his country and of his people.’
Verses 19-25 are the judgement of the judge at the end of the *trial. God is the judge and he decides how to punish *Israel. He will leave them. He will not help them. They will not be able to get away from his anger. They *worshipped false gods that had no value. So, nations that do not *worship God will attack *Israel. There will be hunger and disease. Wild animals, war and death will attack them.
(Romans 1:18-32 announces similar punishments for people who refuse to accept God’s truth today. Paul says that God allowed them to carry out their *sinful desires. Then they received in themselves the result of the wrong things that they did.)
But God will not ruin his people completely. God ought to send the *Israelites away so that people would forget them. That is what they deserved. God will not do that because his enemies might become proud. God allowed the enemies to be successful for only one reason. God used his enemies to punish his people, the *Israelites. God punished his people in a very hard way. But the punishment for God’s enemies would be greater. The enemy is as wicked as Sodom and Gomorrah. (God *destroyed those two towns in the time of Abraham and Lot. See Genesis 19:24.) God will remember their wicked actions. Then he will punish the *Israelites’ enemies. God will show his people that they were foolish to trust false gods. God promises to show *mercy on his people and to punish their enemies. People from all nations will join to give honour to God. He will take away the *sin of his people and he will cover it.
In Romans 15:10, Paul uses the first part of Deuteronomy 32:43. He describes how the Gentiles will trust God. (Gentiles are people who are not *Jews.)
v44 Moses and Joshua, son of Nun, spoke the words of this song so that the *Israelites could hear it. v45 Moses finished his speech to all the *Israelites. v46 Then he said this to them. ‘Remember every word that I have said to you today. Order your children to obey carefully all the words that have taught to you. v47 These commands are important words. They cause you to live. You will cross the River Jordan to possess the country. Obey what I have taught to you. Then you will live for a long time in that country.’
v48 The same day, the *LORD said this to Moses. v49 ‘Go up to *Mount Nebo in the Abarim mountains. It is in Moab, opposite Jericho. Look at the country called Canaan, which I am giving to the *Israelites for their possession. v50 You will die on the mountain that you climb. There you will join your *ancestors. In the same way, your brother, Aaron, died on *Mount Hor and he joined his *ancestors.v51 Neither of you were *faithful to me at the waters of Meribah Kadesh. That was in the *desert of Zin. There, you did not give honour to me in front of the people. v52 So you will see the country from a distance. But you will not enter the country that I am giving to the *Israelites.’
Moses ordered the *Israelites to remember the song and the law. If they obeyed the laws, they would choose to live. God told Moses to climb *Mount Nebo, where he would die. His brother had died on the top of a mountain too. God did not allow Moses to enter the country that he had promised to the *Israelites. That was because of what happened at Meribah. (See Numbers 20:10-13.) You can read more about this in the explanation on chapter 3 verses 23-29.