Today, we come to the end of the book of Deuteronomy, and the end of the Torah (the Law). We begin with the other song of Moses. The first was in Exodus 15, where Moses praised God for His salvation after He brought them through the Red Sea. Here, we have a song that will be a witness of God against Israel when they fail to keep the covenant (Deut 31:16-19).
The song begins with a call to heaven and earth as witnesses (32:1). This is what God did when He warned Israel about idolatry when they are in the land (Deut 4:25-26). In verse 4, Moses refers to God as the “Rock,” a reference to His constant provision in the wilderness wanderings as typified in the Rock that gave Israel water (see Ex 17:6, Num 20:8, and 1 Cor 10:4). The verse also ascribes to God faithfulness as opposed to Israel’s faithlessness, holiness as opposed to Israel’s sinfulness, and justice as opposed to their injustice.
In verse 5, we see that this song is for when – not if – Israel breaks the covenant with God. The following verses detail their response to God’s grace. Remember, God first showed (shows) grace, then required (requires) obedience. We see that it is God alone that gave Israel what they had (v. 12). Verse 13 shows God’s provision, including another reference to the Rock. All of this points us to the provision of God in Christ.
In verse 15, we see that rather than respond in faith to God, Israel will respond with a sense of entitlement because of what they have (note yet another reference to the Rock). In verses 16-17 we see that their sin will ultimately be idolatry. In verse 18, we have another reference to the Rock. Verse 20 references the faithlessness of that Israel has already displayed, and yet will. Verses 23-27 have echoes of the curses God threatened against them (Deut 28). Verse 30 refers to what God will yet do as Israel takes the land. Verse 32 again compares them to Sodom and Gomorrah (see Deut 29:23).
Moses then gives blessings that are specific to the tribes of Israel. Note that the tribe of Simeon is missing. Similar to the reduction in the men of Simeon (see Numbers 26:12-14) through the wilderness wanderings, this points forward to Simeon’s ceasing to be a tribe when the kingdoms split (it is engulfed by Judah). The blessing on Reuben reflects the “blessing” of Jacob in Genesis 49:4. Judah will be victorious against Israel’s enemies, signaling his future kingship. Levi is praised for his faithfulness in the incident of the Golden Calf. The rest of the tribes are blessed, but the final blessing is the one Moses pronounces on God. He is our Savior (v. 29).
Chapter 34 is believed by most to be written by someone other than Moses. Moses has written of himself in the third person before, and this can be a prophetic foretelling of what was about to happen, but it appears to be a later addition to the book. Either way, God has fulfilled His promise of a physical land (34:4). In verse 6, we have a comment made, almost in passing, that no one knows the place of Moses’ burial. God Himself buried him. Combined with Jude 9* and the account of the transfiguration (Matt 17:3, Mark 9:4, Luke 9:30), some believe that Moses’ body may have been restored to him in heaven, and he is now like Elijah.
The chapter ends with the assertion that there has not risen a prophet like Moses among God’s people (v. 10). This is a pointer forward to the promise that a Prophet like Moses would indeed arise to whom God’s people would listen. This Prophet would perform “signs and wonders” and be sent by God to do them (v. 11). The Law ends with the promise of Jesus Christ.
Psalm 90 is the only Psalm ascribed to Moses. It begins to a reference to the time before creation (90:2). This is fitting for the writer of the creation account. Verse 3 is fitting for the writer of the account of the Fall. Verse 4 anticipates the surety of God’s promises, no matter how much time passes. Verses 5-8 refer back to the flood, but also to the fallenness of man, as described in verses 9-11. Verse 12 is a prayer for the sovereign God to grant obedience to His people. Verses 13-17 are a pointer forward to the time when God would again dwell among His people, and sovereignly provide His salvation.
*A reference to a story from the apocryphal book The Assumption of Moses.