Deuteronomy 19 & Psalm 106

Deuteronomy 19

    “When the LORD your God cuts off the nations whose land the LORD your God is giving you, and you dispossess them and dwell in their cities and in their houses, you shall set apart three cities for yourselves in the land that the LORD your God is giving you to possess. You shall measure the distances and divide into three parts the area of the land that the LORD your God gives you as a possession, so that any manslayer can flee to them.

    “This is the provision for the manslayer, who by fleeing there may save his life. If anyone kills his neighbor unintentionally without having hated him in the past—as when someone goes into the forest with his neighbor to cut wood, and his hand swings the axe to cut down a tree, and the head slips from the handle and strikes his neighbor so that he dies—he may flee to one of these cities and live, lest the avenger of blood in hot anger pursue the manslayer and overtake him, because the way is long, and strike him fatally, though the man did not deserve to die, since he had not hated his neighbor in the past. Therefore I command you, You shall set apart three cities. And if the LORD your God enlarges your territory, as he has sworn to your fathers, and gives you all the land that he promised to give to your fathers—provided you are careful to keep all this commandment, which I command you today, by loving the LORD your God and by walking ever in his ways—then you shall add three other cities to these three, lest innocent blood be shed in your land that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance, and so the guilt of bloodshed be upon you.

    “But if anyone hates his neighbor and lies in wait for him and attacks him and strikes him fatally so that he dies, and he flees into one of these cities, then the elders of his city shall send and take him from there, and hand him over to the avenger of blood, so that he may die. Your eye shall not pity him, but you shall purge the guilt of innocent blood from Israel, so that it may be well with you.

    “You shall not move your neighbor's landmark, which the men of old have set, in the inheritance that you will hold in the land that the LORD your God is giving you to possess.

    “A single witness shall not suffice against a person for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offense that he has committed. Only on the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses shall a charge be established. If a malicious witness arises to accuse a person of wrongdoing, then both parties to the dispute shall appear before the LORD, before the priests and the judges who are in office in those days. The judges shall inquire diligently, and if the witness is a false witness and has accused his brother falsely, then you shall do to him as he had meant to do to his brother. So you shall purge the evil from your midst. And the rest shall hear and fear, and shall never again commit any such evil among you. Your eye shall not pity. It shall be life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.

(Deuteronomy 19 ESV)

Psalm 106

    Praise the LORD!
    Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
        for his steadfast love endures forever!
    Who can utter the mighty deeds of the LORD,
        or declare all his praise?
    Blessed are they who observe justice,
        who do righteousness at all times!
    Remember me, O LORD, when you show favor to your people;
        help me when you save them,
    that I may look upon the prosperity of your chosen ones,
        that I may rejoice in the gladness of your nation,
        that I may glory with your inheritance.
    Both we and our fathers have sinned;
        we have committed iniquity; we have done wickedness.
    Our fathers, when they were in Egypt,
        did not consider your wondrous works;
    they did not remember the abundance of your steadfast love,
        but rebelled by the sea, at the Red Sea.
    Yet he saved them for his name's sake,
        that he might make known his mighty power.
    He rebuked the Red Sea, and it became dry,
        and he led them through the deep as through a desert.
    So he saved them from the hand of the foe
        and redeemed them from the power of the enemy.
    And the waters covered their adversaries;
        not one of them was left.
    Then they believed his words;
        they sang his praise.
    But they soon forgot his works;
        they did not wait for his counsel.
    But they had a wanton craving in the wilderness,
        and put God to the test in the desert;
    he gave them what they asked,
        but sent a wasting disease among them.
    When men in the camp were jealous of Moses
        and Aaron, the holy one of the LORD,
    the earth opened and swallowed up Dathan,
        and covered the company of Abiram.
    Fire also broke out in their company;
        the flame burned up the wicked.
    They made a calf in Horeb
        and worshiped a metal image.
    They exchanged the glory of God
        for the image of an ox that eats grass.
    They forgot God, their Savior,
        who had done great things in Egypt,
    wondrous works in the land of Ham,
        and awesome deeds by the Red Sea.
    Therefore he said he would destroy them—
        had not Moses, his chosen one,
    stood in the breach before him,
        to turn away his wrath from destroying them.
    Then they despised the pleasant land,
        having no faith in his promise.
    They murmured in their tents,
        and did not obey the voice of the LORD.
    Therefore he raised his hand and swore to them
        that he would make them fall in the wilderness,
    and would make their offspring fall among the nations,
        scattering them among the lands.
    Then they yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor,
        and ate sacrifices offered to the dead;
    they provoked the LORD to anger with their deeds,
        and a plague broke out among them.
    Then Phinehas stood up and intervened,
        and the plague was stayed.
    And that was counted to him as righteousness
        from generation to generation forever.
    They angered him at the waters of Meribah,
        and it went ill with Moses on their account,
    for they made his spirit bitter,
        and he spoke rashly with his lips.
    They did not destroy the peoples,
        as the LORD commanded them,
    but they mixed with the nations
        and learned to do as they did.
    They served their idols,
        which became a snare to them.
    They sacrificed their sons
        and their daughters to the demons;
    they poured out innocent blood,
        the blood of their sons and daughters,
    whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan,
        and the land was polluted with blood.
    Thus they became unclean by their acts,
        and played the whore in their deeds.
    Then the anger of the LORD was kindled against his people,
        and he abhorred his heritage;
    he gave them into the hand of the nations,
        so that those who hated them ruled over them.
    Their enemies oppressed them,
        and they were brought into subjection under their power.
    Many times he delivered them,
        but they were rebellious in their purposes
        and were brought low through their iniquity.
    Nevertheless, he looked upon their distress,
        when he heard their cry.
    For their sake he remembered his covenant,
        and relented according to the abundance of his steadfast love.
    He caused them to be pitied
        by all those who held them captive.
    Save us, O LORD our God,
        and gather us from among the nations,
    that we may give thanks to your holy name
        and glory in your praise.
    Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel,
        from everlasting to everlasting!
    And let all the people say, “Amen!”
        Praise the LORD!

(Psalm 106 ESV)

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Something to Consider

Psalm 106: This Psalm recounts historical events in Israel’s past that illustrate the faithfulness and steadfast love of God despite the unfaithfulness of His own people. This Psalm provides a startling portrait of how quickly men forget the power, provision and protection that God demonstrates for persistently for His people.  

In observing the events described within the Psalm, we see the way in which the Israelites didn't consider the wondrous works of God while in Egypt and rebelled in disbelief when coming to the shore of the Red Sea. After parting the sea and delivering them from the armies of Egypt, they soon forgot God's wondrous works again and rebelled in various ways throughout their time in the wilderness. Upon coming to the Promised Land, they disobeyed God’s commands and “mixed” themselves with the pagan people around them which led to their idolatry and their inevitable captivity once again at the hands of another nation like Egypt. 

Time after time, God delivered His people and time after time God’s people sought their own destruction. Such is the seriousness of man’s depravity and sin. May we resist the temptation to speak harshly of Israel’s foolish ways lest we forget that we also act so foolishly. God has given us our every need, and yet we are consistently discontent. God has given us His Word to live by, and yet we daily seek to live how we please. And God has given us His Son, and yet we seek salvation in ourselves and our own goodness rather than by grace through faith in Him. 

Nevertheless, God looks upon our depravity and distress and remembers His own covenant promise to preserve a people for Himself. Blessed be the Lord, the God of His people, who remains faithful in His love despite our unfaithfulness in loving Him back.