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Michael Grisanti: Looking back at God’s faithfulness to Israel as they wandered in the wilderness and looking forward to the good land God is giving them, Moses exhorts the Israelites to avoid a spirit of independence and self-sufficiency and instead to remember the Lord by keeping his commandments, lest he cause them to perish. Moses uses two “double themes” to strengthen his challenge for Israel to live in the light of their covenantal relationship with Yahweh: remember/forget and wilderness/Promised Land (Craigie, 184).

Gerald Gerbrandt: Chapter 8 picks up the theme of blessing and emphasizes the goodness of the Promised Land. It is a land of great natural resources, a land in which they will become wealthy, a land in which they will be filled and lack nothing. But this very abundance, this outcome of their election, has the possibility of dulling their memories. It can lure them into forgetting the God who has led them out of Egypt and provided for all their needs in the wilderness. The contrast between the obvious dependence upon God in the wilderness and the danger of perceived self-sufficiency in the land plays a key role in the argument.

Daniel Block: Moses continues to address the challenges to faith that the Israelites will encounter in the Promised Land. In this chapter that threat emerges because Yahweh is faithful to his promises. Moses’ fivefold appeal to keep alive the memory of Yahweh’s actions on Israel’s behalf (vv. 2, 11, 14, 18, 19) suggests that the notion of remembering/forgetting is a key motif in the chapter. In addition, Moses’ charge to keep the commands of Yahweh by walking in his ways and fearing him (v. 6; cf. v. 11) points to the heart of the matter: Will Israel serve Yahweh in the land, or will they not? This is the same question Moses had raised in chapter 7, though now the nature of the test has changed dramatically. . .

Whereas in the past Yahweh had tested and refined his people with deprivation and manna, in the future he will do so with prosperity. His aim in both is to produce a nation that brings praise and glory to him in the sight of the nations (26:19). If they fail the test and refuse to be refined, he will discard them again like dross and consign them to the slag heap (cf. Ezek. 22:17–22).


A. (:1-6) God’s Faithfulness in Tough Times Should Prompt Obedience

1, (:1) Exhortation to Obedience

“All the commandments that I am commanding you today you shall be careful to do, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the LORD swore to give to your forefathers.”

Michael Grisanti: What God desires for his covenantal people is abundant life in the Promised Land, where they will live long and multiply in number.

Daniel Block: If Israel will be faithful to Yahweh, they will achieve life, increase (of population), entrance into the land, and possession of it.

2. (:2-5) Remembering God’s Faithfulness in Tough Times

a. (:2) Goal of Humbling and Testing

“And you shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.”

Peter Craigie: The wilderness tested and disciplined the people in various ways. On the one hand, the desolation of the wilderness removed the natural props and supports which man by nature depends on; it cast the people back on God, who alone could provide the strength to survive the wilderness. On the other hand, the severity of the wilderness period undermined the shallow bases of confidence of those who were not truly rooted and grounded in God. The wilderness makes or breaks a man; it provides strength of will and character. The strength provided by the wilderness, however, was not the strength of self-sufficiency, but the strength that comes from a knowledge of the living God.

b. (:3) Key Lesson = Dependence on the Revealed Will of the Lord for Everything

“And He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD.”

Daniel Block: it seems best to understand that “which comes from the mouth of God” to be his revealed will, represented by the Supreme Command and all the stipulations, decrees, and laws. The chapter opens with the challenge to obey the commands of Yahweh “so that you may live” (v. 1); it ends with a sentence of death on all who think they can live by feasting on physical food but neglect the will of God (v. 20). To live one must also ingest (take to heart, 6:6) the life-giving commands that come from the mouth of Yahweh, and let them energize one to do his will (cf. 17:19–20; 31:11–13).

Peter Craigie: The complete dependence on the word of God and God’s ability to provide is always a hard lesson for man to learn, whether in ancient times or modern. Man knows that he must work in order to provide the essentials for physical existence, but in that very labor, he may easily forget that, in the last resort, it is God who makes provision for man’s life. Thus, when the divine command comes, or when a period of testing is entered, man’s self-sufficiency is undermined, for his own ability to provide for his needs is removed and he must learn again that his existence, physical and spiritual, can only be grounded in God.

Gerald Gerbrandt: The contrast “is not spiritual versus material food but trust in the Lord’s provision and obedience versus reliance upon self” (P. Miller 1990: 116).

c. (:4-5) Goal of Humbling and Disciplining

“Your clothing did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell these forty years. 5 Thus you are to know in your heart that the LORD your God was disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son.”

Gerald Gerbrandt: The wilderness experience is a time of discipline. Discipline must be distinguished from punishment. Punishment is penalty for past sin; discipline is training or schooling for the future. The discipline of the wilderness is to change Israel’s heart (v. 5). The second reference to heart, preceded by the imperative (Know), may suggest God had learned that Israel’s heart was not ready for life in the land. The Exodus accounts of the wilderness period demonstrate that at times Israel responded to adversity without the trust and obedience God desired (e.g., Exod 16:1–36; 32:1–35). This passage puts the whole in the context of the love of a parent for a child. God, like a parent, expresses love both by carrying and protecting (cf. 1:31) and by preparing for the future. Through the wilderness experience, God makes clear to Israel its utter dependence on God.

Daniel Block: Why did Yahweh treat Israel the way he did? To this question he provides three answers.

(1) Yahweh was intentionally depriving Israel of normal food to humble them.

(2) Yahweh was testing his people to assess the quality of the vassal’s fidelity (8:2) and to enhance Israel’s covenant commitment through discipline (8:5). Just as the metallurgical process of refining precious metals involves extraction of impurities from ore through intense heat, so metaphorical refinement involves a demanding and painful process.

(3) Yahweh was exposing the shallowness of the people’s commitment to him. This aim is expressed explicitly by the clause “to know what was in your heart,” and the method involved observing whether or not the Israelites would keep his commands. Moses’ present statement echoes Yahweh’s words in Exodus 16:4 and assumes that people’s actions express what is inside their hearts/minds.

3. (:6) Exhortation to Obedience

“Therefore, you shall keep the commandments of the LORD your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him.”

B. (:7-10) God’s Blessing of Prosperity Should Prompt Thanksgiving

1. (:7-9) Blessing of Prosperity

a. (:7a) Summary of Blessing in the Good Land

“For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land,”

Daniel Block: The general reference to the land as “a good land” functions as an introductory thesis statement, whose meaning will be clarified in the following verses, and it contrasts the land ahead with the desert the Israelites have left behind.

b. (:7b) Abundant Water

“a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs,

flowing forth in valleys and hills;”

c. (:8) Abundant Food

“a land of wheat and barley,

of vines and fig trees and pomegranates,

a land of olive oil and honey;”

d. (:9a) Abundant Provision

“a land where you shall eat food without scarcity,

in which you shall not lack anything;”

e. (:9b) Abundant Mineral Resources

“a land whose stones are iron,

and out of whose hills you can dig copper.”

2. (:10) Response of Thanksgiving

“When you have eaten and are satisfied,

you shall bless the LORD your God

for the good land which He has given you.”


A. (:11-17) Warning against Forgetting God

1. (:11) Forgetting God Manifests Itself in Disobeying His Commands

“Beware lest you forget the LORD your God by not keeping His commandments and His ordinances and His statutes which I am commanding you today;”

Peter Craigie: That is, forgetfulness is not simply a state of mind, or something akin to absentmindedness. Facts may still be remembered, in a literal sense, but they have ceased to be part of a living memory of the reality of God, who no longer seems to be a living and real presence. The reality of the living God is not bounded by time; but finite man, pressed continually by the pressures of the present moment, is constantly tempted to limit his horizons to that which is immediately known and experienced. When the immediate experience is one of security and tranquility, then the living memory of the reality of God fades and easily ceases to be the governing principle of daily life. The danger was a constant one, so the people were warned by Moses: Be very careful lest you forget the Lord your God (v. 11).

2. (:12-14) Forgetting God Responds to Prosperity with Pride Instead of Thanksgiving

“lest, when you have eaten and are satisfied, and have built good houses and lived in them, 13 and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and gold multiply, and all that you have multiplies, 14 then your heart becomes proud, and you forget the LORD your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.”

Peter Craigie: The Exodus event had been the liberation of Israel from human servitude and had made possible submission to God in the covenant formed at Sinai. Israel was not a free nation, though the newly found prosperity in the Promised Land might lead to the delusion of freedom. The freedom from Egypt was significant only in that it formed the basis for a new allegiance, the allegiance given to God in the covenant. The belief in self-sufficient freedom and independence would be a dangerous thing in the new state of Israel. There could be freedom from Egypt, freedom from worldly domination, but only insofar as Israel was absolutely committed to God in a covenant relationship which totally permeated every aspect of its life.

Eugene Merrill: The chief danger was that they would become amnesiac about their history and in the pride of the present would forget the sacred story of their election and redemption. They would no longer recall that the Lord had brought them out of Egyptian slavery (v. 14; cf. 4:9; 6:12), that he had led them through the trackless and terrible deserts (v. 15; cf. 1:19; 2:7; 32:10) and had given them water and food in supernatural ways (vv. 15b-16a). They could even have forgotten the lessons he had taught them then and there, instruction designed to prepare them well for the purpose to which he had called them (v. 16b). Instead, they would claim credit for all their successes as though by their own wisdom and strength they had managed to become so prosperous (v. 17).

3. (:15-17) Forgetting God Manifests Itself in Prideful Self Confidence Instead of Humble Dependence on God

“He led you through the great and terrible wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water; He brought water for you out of the rock of flint. 16 In the wilderness He fed you manna which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do good for you in the end. 17 Otherwise, you may say in your heart, ‘My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth.’”

B. (:18) Exhortation to Remember God’s Faithfulness

“But you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.”

Eugene Merrill: The connection between covenant and blessing is clearly affirmed in v. 18, where Moses commanded his hearers to remember the Lord inasmuch as the success they enjoyed was confirmation of his covenant favor and the covenant relationship was the source of their blessing. In other words, there is a reciprocal dynamic in which covenant produces blessing and blessing proves the reality of covenant.

Daniel Block: In contrast to the wrong response to the test (vv. 11–17), Moses now provides three elements of the correct response.

(1) When the Israelites prosper in the land, they must “remember the LORD.” As elsewhere the verb zâkar involves more than simply acknowledging his existence; it means to take seriously his presence and actions.

(2) Even if the Israelites prosper through hard work, they must recognize that the skill and energy needed to do that work is a gift from Yahweh.

(3) They must remember that Yahweh gives strength not primarily for their prosperity, but to confirm his covenant with the ancestors. Moses’ use of the expression “to confirm his covenant” proves he is not speaking of a new covenant, but the fulfillment of a previous covenant, here identified as the covenant he made with the ancestors of his audience.

C. (:19-20) Warning against Forgetting God

“And it shall come about if you ever forget the LORD your God, and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I testify against you today that you shall surely perish. 20 Like the nations that the LORD makes to perish before you, so you shall perish; because you would not listen to the voice of the LORD your God.”

Peter Craigie: A basic theme of Deuteronomy is the demand for covenant allegiance, and always this is contrasted with the danger of unfaithfulness to the covenant God and following other gods. Thus, the last two verses of the chapter serve to tie the particular themes of the chapter more closely to the overall themes of the book.

Michael Grisanti: Moses gives Israel a stern warning. If Israel chooses to forget the Lord and instead worships pagan gods, Yahweh will destroy them just as he intends to judge the Canaanite nations. If the Israelites want to live like Canaanites, God will treat them like Canaanites. Just as the destruction of the Canaanites was theologically or morally justified, the same would be true of God’s judgment of his own covenantal nation. The “forgetting” of God and worshiping of idols are symptoms or manifestations of the fundamental problem: not obeying, or disregarding, their covenantal Lord.

Gerald Gerbrandt: Although the focus of the chapter has been on the danger of replacing confidence in God with pride and self-confidence, the conclusion takes the next logical step for Deuteronomy and speaks against following, serving, and worshiping (three separate terms used for emphasis) other gods. Not only may hubris itself be another god; it also easily leads to the recognition of new gods, gods that the peoples of the land serve in their quest for prosperity and security. Breaking the first commandment then becomes a temptation as well.