Deuteronomy 24 & Psalms 114-115

Deuteronomy 24

    “When a man takes a wife and marries her, if then she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, and she departs out of his house, and if she goes and becomes another man's wife, and the latter man hates her and writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, or if the latter man dies, who took her to be his wife, then her former husband, who sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after she has been defiled, for that is an abomination before the LORD. And you shall not bring sin upon the land that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance.

    “When a man is newly married, he shall not go out with the army or be liable for any other public duty. He shall be free at home one year to be happy with his wife whom he has taken.

    “No one shall take a mill or an upper millstone in pledge, for that would be taking a life in pledge.

    “If a man is found stealing one of his brothers of the people of Israel, and if he treats him as a slave or sells him, then that thief shall die. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.

    “Take care, in a case of leprous disease, to be very careful to do according to all that the Levitical priests shall direct you. As I commanded them, so you shall be careful to do. Remember what the LORD your God did to Miriam on the way as you came out of Egypt.

    “When you make your neighbor a loan of any sort, you shall not go into his house to collect his pledge. You shall stand outside, and the man to whom you make the loan shall bring the pledge out to you. And if he is a poor man, you shall not sleep in his pledge. You shall restore to him the pledge as the sun sets, that he may sleep in his cloak and bless you. And it shall be righteousness for you before the LORD your God.

    “You shall not oppress a hired worker who is poor and needy, whether he is one of your brothers or one of the sojourners who are in your land within your towns. You shall give him his wages on the same day, before the sun sets (for he is poor and counts on it), lest he cry against you to the LORD, and you be guilty of sin.

    “Fathers shall not be put to death because of their children, nor shall children be put to death because of their fathers. Each one shall be put to death for his own sin.

    “You shall not pervert the justice due to the sojourner or to the fatherless, or take a widow's garment in pledge, but you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt and the LORD your God redeemed you from there; therefore I command you to do this.

    “When you reap your harvest in your field and forget a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. When you beat your olive trees, you shall not go over them again. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow. When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not strip it afterward. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow. You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt; therefore I command you to do this.

(Deuteronomy 24 ESV)

Psalm 114

    When Israel went out from Egypt,
        the house of Jacob from a people of strange language,
    Judah became his sanctuary,
        Israel his dominion.
    The sea looked and fled;
        Jordan turned back.
    The mountains skipped like rams,
        the hills like lambs.
    What ails you, O sea, that you flee?
        O Jordan, that you turn back?
    O mountains, that you skip like rams?
        O hills, like lambs?
    Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord,
        at the presence of the God of Jacob,
    who turns the rock into a pool of water,
        the flint into a spring of water.

(Psalm 114 ESV)

Psalm 115

    Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory,
        for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!
    Why should the nations say,
        “Where is their God?”
    Our God is in the heavens;
        he does all that he pleases.
    Their idols are silver and gold,
        the work of human hands.
    They have mouths, but do not speak;
        eyes, but do not see.
    They have ears, but do not hear;
        noses, but do not smell.
    They have hands, but do not feel;
        feet, but do not walk;
        and they do not make a sound in their throat.
    Those who make them become like them;
        so do all who trust in them.
    O Israel, trust in the LORD!
        He is their help and their shield.
    O house of Aaron, trust in the LORD!
        He is their help and their shield.
    You who fear the LORD, trust in the LORD!
        He is their help and their shield.
    The LORD has remembered us; he will bless us;
        he will bless the house of Israel;
        he will bless the house of Aaron;
    he will bless those who fear the LORD,
        both the small and the great.
    May the LORD give you increase,
        you and your children!
    May you be blessed by the LORD,
        who made heaven and earth!
    The heavens are the LORD's heavens,
        but the earth he has given to the children of man.
    The dead do not praise the LORD,
        nor do any who go down into silence.
    But we will bless the LORD
        from this time forth and forevermore.
    Praise the LORD!

(Psalm 115 ESV)

Something to Consider

Deuteronomy 24: As God protects and provides for His people and expects them to care for one another, God also expects His people to care for all people who may find themselves dwelling in the land as strangers rather than 'family'. In exercising God’s judgement upon the nations through war and conquest, we ought to expect there will be sojourners, orphans and widows throughout the land of Israel. Therefore, in protection of these ‘landless’ people dwelling within the land, God orders His people to “not pervert the justice” of God’s Law and to “not oppress” anyone whether they’re a brother or a stranger in the land. God warns His people to remember and never forget that they too were once strangers and slaves in a land that was not their own. 

Remembering where we came from and what God has delivered us from has a way of softening our hearts towards those who suffer or sin in the same way that we used to. Forgetting what God has done is forgetting to shut the door to the world of sin and self-righteousness. The moment we begin to forget God’s faithfulness and deliverance is the moment we open ourselves up to self-righteousness and self-exaltation at the expense of those around us. Hatred enters the hallway of our hearts, and discrimination towards others takes a seat in the midst of our soul. The discipline to remember protects us from the sin that enters to spark a rebellion within. 

We are to show compassion and care for those around us (especially the alien, orphan and widow) because God has graced us with His compassion and care. May we praise God and provide for the needs of others remembering that we who were once slaves of sin have been set free from sin and have become children of righteousness (Romans 6).