Saturday Evening Meditations -Deuteronomy 32

Deuteronomy is Moses’ final address to Israel before they enter the Promised Land. He recounts the nation’s wanderings in the wilderness, the result of their unbelief. Now on the edge of entering, Moses recounts God’s faithfulness despite Israel’s continual rebellion and delivers the curses and blessings upon them; curses for disobedience, blessings for obedience.

Textual notes on Deuteronomy 32

Chapter 32 is somewhat the finalé of Moses’ life. This portion was written as a song, as songs were used to aid memory. It is sung as a series of blessings and curses, a summary of what had been previously recorded. One thing stood apart as I read it this morning. It is the name Moses ascribes to God. We first encounter this name is verse 4:

Deuteronomy 32:4 He is the Rock, His work is perfect; For all His ways are justice, A God of truth and without injustice; Righteous and upright is He.(NKJV)

This name for God is repeated a total of five times in this chapter alone. Verses 4, 15, 18, 30, and 31 use the metaphorical name. As I pondered upon this for a time I went to my Hebrew lexicons and commentaries to find the meaning of Moses’ use of Rock. Two resources in particular resonated. The first entry is from the Lexham Lexicon of the Hebrew Bible and the second is from the IVP Bible Background Commentary.

5. God⟺Rock — the God of Israel understood metaphorically as a rock or stone; perhaps with emphasis on strength and permanence. (Emphasis mine)


(2020). The Lexham Lexicon of the Hebrew Bible. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

rock metaphor. Used in 2 Samuel 22:3 as a divine epithet, rock could also carry the meaning “mountain” or “fortress.” It is used in Israelite names both as a metaphor for God (Zuriel, Num 3:35, “God is my Rock”) and as a divine name (Pedahzur, Num 2:20, “Rock is my redeemer”). It is used of other deities in Aramaic and Amorite personal names, and its application to other gods is hinted at here in verses 31 and 37. As a metaphor it speaks of safety and deliverance (Emphasis mine)


Matthews, V. H., Chavalas, M. W., & Walton, J. H. (2000). The IVP Bible background commentary: Old Testament (electronic ed.). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

God was the strength of Israel. He was meant to be their permanent Divine, the only God that should be worshiped. This would soon be a bygone concept once Israel conquered their enemies and settled down in the land. They would forget their Rock and seek to be acquiesced into the culture surrounding them. Later in the chapter (verses 10-15) God accuses them of their future idolatry, or rather the way He will rebuke them when they fail to obey His Law. He harshly condemns their offerings and sacrifices to other “rocks.” They are vain, and deaf, and powerless. God’s rebuke was justified and needed.

Law & Gospel in Deuteronomy 32

The Sorrowful Mother by James Tissot

Just as Israel sought after empty things to satisfy them, we too, often run after rocks instead of the Rock. We find solace in the temporal pleasures of this life instead of the Eternal God. In spite of God’s punishment of His chosen people, He was gracious and compassionate toward them. In the same chapter that He pronounced His judgment, He would also pronounce His mercy. Verse 36, along with verse 43 is this chapter’s pinnacle of the gospel in the Old Testament.

Deuteronomy 32:36 (NKJV) — 36 “For the Lord will judge His people And have compassion on His servants, When He sees that their power is gone, And there is no one remaining, bond or free… 43 “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people; For He will avenge the blood of His servants, And render vengeance to His adversaries; He will provide atonement for His land and His people.”

O, what mercy and grace! Yahweh would redeem His people despite their rebellion. He would redeem them and bring them back as His very own possession, and with the promise to circumcise their hearts so that they would love Him.

It is this same great mercy that has been extended to us through the perfect work of Jesus. His sacrificial and vicarious death has covered our sins; it has covered our idolatry, our greed, our sexual perversions, and every other sin that the Law continues to bring to remembrance. As the children of Israel gazed upon the bronze serpent to be healed of their fiery bites, so must we fix our gaze by faith on the One who took sin’s bite in our stead.

Rejoice in Christ’s work. Be joyful in His merciful offer of His invitation to come to Him and live.

Saturday Evening Meditations – Psalm 77:1-3

1 I cried out to God with my voice—To God with my voice; And He gave ear to me. 2 In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord; My hand was stretched out in the night without ceasing; My soul refused to be comforted. 3 I remembered God, and was troubled; I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed.

This Psalm of Asaph expresses a deep and abiding pain. Scholars place this Psalm in the time of Habakuk, the minor prophet. Habakuk is set in a time of uncertainty. The Chaldeans are among them and Israel’s residents are committing injustice and violence among them. Habakuk continually pleads to God to intervene as it seems that all these things will overwhelm him. Psalm 77 is written within this context.

Amongst the national unrest we are experiencing currently, we also deal with our personal anxieties and doubt. We are still wading through our own trials. Along with Habakuk we cry out to God for relief, “O Lord, how long shall I cry And You will not hear?” And like the Psalmist we express our sleeplessness and doubt that perhaps God has cast us out.

This Psalm has particular significance for me as I sit here and recover from a major life-changing surgery. I feel like a lump, just sitting and doing nothing. I complain to God, “How Long, O Lord?” I see His hand in guiding and still cry out to Him, patiently waiting for His reply.

And when I read verse 1 over and over I begin to be comforted: “I cried out to God with my voice–to God with my voice, and He gave ear to me.”

When I read Scripture of God answering His people in the midst of their troubles, my heart is encouraged. For I know that God will only delay so long before His loving answer comes to my ears. Christian, you also continue to cry out to Him. And when His reply comes, it will be sweet in your ears and sweeter in your soul. Then you shall exclaim, “He gave ear to me.”

Saturday Evening Meditations – Psalm 32:1-5

Psalm 32:1 is perhaps one of the greatest gospel verses in the Old Testament. It expresses emotion that often accompanies one who has just experienced the life-saving gift of forgiveness. A good number of scholars believe this is a compendium Psalm to Psalm 51 and expressing thanks to God for His forgiveness after David committed adultery with Bathsheba.

This psalm may be a companion to Psalm 51, referring to David’s sin with Bathsheba. At that time David refused for a year to acknowledge his sin. Psalm 51 was his prayer for pardon; Psalm 32 would then follow it, stressing God’s forgiveness and the lesson David learned.


Ross, Allen P. “Psalms.” In The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, edited by J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985.

Whatever the case, the Psalm is an expression of the truly penitent heart. In his commentary on the Psalms, Leupold regards this portion as a doctrine that is a “vital, dynamic, saving truth. ” Indeed, it is a saving truth that every human being needs to hear. The first five verses in particular are some of the most confrontational yet comforting verses in all of Scripture.

1 Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered. 2 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no deceit. 3 When I kept silent, my bones grew old through my groaning all the day long. 4 For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was turned into the drought of summer. Selah 5 I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” And You forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah

There are three words that I would like to focus on: transgression, sin, and iniquity. Each word focuses on a particular aspect of violating God’s command. David uses them in this Psalm to express the remorse and brokeness over his sin. Although I have access to a number of Hebrew lexicons I am pulling all the definitions from The Dictionary of Biblical Languages, Hebrew. This lexicon not only supplies a definition but gives a semantic domain and range to most of its words.

The first Hebrew word is pě·šǎʿ and indicates a clear rising up against authority.

rebellion, revolt, i.e., to rise up in clear defiance to authority (1Sa 24:12);  2. LN 88.289–88.318 crime, sin, offence, fault, transgression, i.e., what is contrary to a standard, human or divine, with a focus on the rebellious nature of the sin (Ge 50:17)


Swanson, James. Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997.

If the sin in this Psalm confessed was indeed David’s sin with Bathsheba it would not only include adultery but murder, as well. David’s clear defiance and rebellion against God’s standard of righteousness is well highlighted.

The second word is ǎṭā·ʾā(h) and focuses on the actual guilt of the person that committed the sin.

1. LN 88.289–88.318 sin, i.e., an offense against a moral standard, with a focus on the guilt or condemnation incurred by that offense (Ge 20:9; Ex 32:21, 30, 31; 2Ki 17:21; Ps 32:1; 109:7+)

Ibid

This word seems to deal especially with the judgment due the guilty party, as the references cited have to due with judgment of some form or another. Especially interesting is the Psalm 109 passage in which David, the author of the Psalm, declares, “When he is judged, let him be found guilty.” His words are fitting as he himself was due judgment for his own sin.

The third and final word is the word iniquity, Hebrew, ʿā·wōn. Per the definition below it focuses on the “liability” of the iniquity itself. In other words, how will the lawbreaker, or what, can he/she give to cause justice to prevail. In the case of David’s murder only his own life could suffice!

1. LN 88.289–88.318 sin, wickedness, iniquity, i.e., wrongdoing, with a focus of liability or guilt for this wrong incurred (Ex 34:7)

Ibid

All of these words signify a great trespass against the Creator and Lawgiver of the universe. And all of these words we are guilty of ourselves. We have defiantly rose up against God and transgressed His moral standard. We all should incur this guilt and be judged accordingly, with the only liable thing to give being our lives. But thanks be to God for His mercy through His Son, Jesus Christ, who took our pě·šǎʿ, ǎṭā·ʾā(h), and ʿā·wōn upon Himself. Praise to the Father for His acceptance of the sin offering by raising Him from the dead. Glory to Him because we, along with David can now sing…

Saturday Evening Meditations – Manasseh

2Kings 21 and 2Chronicles 33 records the accounts of Manasseh the king who reigned after his father, Hezekiah. Both accounts relay that he was one of the most wicked kings Jerusalem had ever had, all the way to filling Jerusalem from one end to the other with innocent blood (2Kings 22:16). Manasseh as king was to lead his people in the worship of Yahweh. But he went after other gods and as the accounts tell us he sacrificed his own children to the detestable god, Molech, who required child sacrifices for appeasement.

Continue reading “Saturday Evening Meditations – Manasseh”

Saturday Evening Meditations – Esther

During the Second Temple period Queen Esther was the prized beauty of King Ahasuerus. This book is infamously known as the only book of the Bible that does not mention God a single time. So where can we see the Gospel presented? Join us for this week’s Saturday Evening Meditations.

The Story of Esther

Timeline of Esther

The book of Esther is the story of God’s providential protection of His people. God’s people have been exiled into a foreign land for their persistent rebellion against Him. The land of Persia is strange, their language strange, and their customs vile and ungodly. Yet it is the will of God for them to stay there awhile.

Oddly enough Yahweh or any other variant name of God is found nowhere in the book. But when we read Esther we clearly see He is not absent but working through Esther’s uncle, Mordecai. The book opens as king Ahasuerus throws the feasts of feasts for his statesmen. He gives them permission of no limits in getting drunk and carousing. Over the course of the seven-day feast, Ahasuerus gets pretty drunk and orders his Queen, Vashti, to appear before him. His intention is to show her off and to please his guests. Vashti refuses to be his play toy and rebels against her king. He consults his administrators and they advise him that in order to save face he must dump Vashti and find a more obedient queen (1:10-22).

Of course, after the national wide beauty contest, Esther wins hands down and is chosen by the king as the new queen. She isn’t happy. Her uncle Mordecai, who has raised her tells her to take her place for now. And then the trouble begins…enter Haman. (3:1)

Haman receives a huge promotion from the king and demands that as he passes by that all should bow down to hm. Mordecai refuses—several times. Eventually, Haman decides on a plan. Instead of killing just Mordecai he will wipe out the entire jewish race (3:6). Eventually, he connives the king into making a decree, which was something that could not be overturned by even the king once it was law (3:12-13, 8:8). Of course the king has no idea that his beloved queen is a Jew. And when Mordecai discovers the king’s edict he pleads with Esther to go before the king and plead their case.

Esther pleads before the king

Esther is afraid. And with good cause. Anyone who enters the king’s presence without prior authorization will be put to death. Unless…

There is one chance. If the king is pleased with the person he may extend his golden scepter (4:11). The person who takes hold of the scepter will have the king’s ear. Of course, we know that this is what happened. Esther fasts and prays and invites Haman and the king for a feast. She persuades the king to establish a new decree that the Jews be allowed to defend themselves. The Jews are victorious, Haman is hanged on the very gallows he built for Mordecai, and the Feast of Purim is established for the Jewish nation.

It is exciting reading the book of Esther and seeing God’s hand throughout. Scripture testifies to God’s goodness but more importantly, it attests to the central figure, Jesus Christ. So, where can we find the gospel in Esther? And how can we apply the story of Esther to ourselves?

The Gospel in Esther

Just as Esther interceded for her own people before the king, so also Jesus intercedes for us. Without Christ’s intercession, we are damned to be destroyed by Satan, who, just like Haman has built his hellish gallows that he might doom us. Yet the Father in His goodness has allowed Jesus to enter into His throne room to plead our case before the Father. Ahasuerus’ edict could not be undone. There is nothing that could have reversed the death penalty for the Jews. In the same way, the Law had condemned us to die. It cannot be undone. It has been established by God Himself and He will not overturn it.

But praise be to God! He has given us an intercessor in Jesus Christ, who lives to make intercession for us (Romans 8:34, Hebrews 7:25). Because of Christ’s redemptive work the Father issued a new decree. That whoever looks to the Son and believes in Him shall escape the penalty of the Law (John 3:16-18). What a wonderful thought that we have One who intercedes and protects us with His own blood.

Personal Application

God is holy and transcendent. As natural men, we cannot enter into His presence standing upon our own merit. We will surely die if we do. God has a right to consume us with His wrath because of our sinfulness. Yet in His mercy, His Golden Scepter of Righteousness, Jesus Christ, is our only plea (Psalm 45:6). God freely extends this Scepter to all who will reach out and grasp Him. Then, and only then, may we boldly approach the Throne of Grace to make our petitions before the Father (Hebrews 4:16). Let us thank the Father, Son, and Spirit for their goodness towards us and may we ever be grateful and joyful in His presence.

Saturday Evening Meditations – Jacob & Esau

Recently, I was reading the passage of Jacob and Esau. If you’re familiar with the story, you may remember that Jacob, at the prodding of his mother, tricked his father, Isaac into blessing himself rather than Esau, who was the elder.

As the story goes, Isaac was old and blind, and near death and asked Esau to hunt and cook him some game in order to bless him before his passing. Rebekkah hears this and instructs Jacob to put on some of Esau’s garments and take some game into him which she would prepare. In this way, Jacob would receive the blessing.

Expectedly, Jacob complies and follows through with it. Isaac is confused at first because he “feels” Esau’s hairy hands (the sheep’s skin) but hears Jacob’s voice. But when he catches a whiff of Esau’s clothes he is convinced that it is his elder son and goes through with the blessing.

In time Esau returns and discovers he has been swindled–again! He vows to kill his twin and Rebekkah, fearing for her son, sends him away under the guise of marrying one of her kinsman rather than the native Caananites.

This is where it gets interesting: Jacob leaves his home and stops for the night in Bethel (at the time it was called Luz). He has his famous dream of the angels ascending and descending from Heaven on a ladder. In the dream God comes to him and makes him this promise:

I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac…Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” (Gen 28:13, 15). 

Here is where the meditation comes in. God introduces Himself by declaring that He was the God of his fathers. He then follows that up with a covenant. He promises to be with Jacob and fulfill His covenant with him and his offspring.

Think about that for a minute. Jacob had just cheated his brother and yet God was honoring Jacob. Not that God approved of his cheating. But God had intended Jacob to be the heir of promise. He was still honoring that despite Jacob’s past sins. The promise wasn’t conditioned on Jacob’s behavior. No! It was conditioned on God Himself.

Let’s bring that principle home: I am an idolatrous, image-making, God-blaspheming, Sabbath breaking, parent dishonoring, murdering, adulterous, thieving, lying, covetous man.

Yet, God has a covenant with me. His Word has assured me that if I repent of my sins and in faith trust the finished work and Person of Christ for salvation then He, like Jacob, would “be with me and bring me again into [His] land”. He has promised me that His Son has gone to prepare a place for me (John 14:3) and that He will continue to abide with me (John 14: 15-17).

But I fail daily! I sin, I miss the mark, and I defame His Holy Name. Yet, He has even promised that all I must do is to confess and forsake my sin (1John 1:9).

Why does He continue to be good to me? Because it is not up to me or my faithfulness which God basis His promises on. It is upon His own Name and the covenant which He made with His people from eternity past.

Friend, if you are struggling with doubt and fear, and if you have truly trusted in Christ alone for salvation, know that God will lead you to your eternal inheritance. And this is not contingent upon your own faithfulness but in God’s covenant-keeping Name!

Below, you will find a PDF of a brief Text Flow I did of this passage.

Here is the PDF for viewing