March 31 Evening Verse of The Day

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_0681.jpg

10:17 God, he is God of the gods and Lord of the lords Israel’s attitude should stem from recognizing that Yahweh elected them out of love (v. 15) and that He is superior over all other gods. The backdrop for this contrast is God’s decision at Babel (see 32:8–9), where He disinherited the nations of the earth and chose Israel alone as His “portion” for inheritance.

the great and mighty God, the awesome one God has shown His elective love for Israel in delivering the Israelites from Egypt and performing other wonders (Exod 12–14; Deut 4:34; 6:22; 7:19).[1]

10:17 Israel’s heart needs correction because (for) God is the awesome God. not partial. See 1:17. The election of Israel (10:15) does not mean God will cut moral corners in showing special favors to Israel. He is a just God (v. 18).[2]

17. For the Lord (Jehovah) your God, &c.i e., He is not merely a local deity, as the heathen regard their guardian divinities; and although, for high and important purposes, He is taking a special interest in the Jewish nation, yet He is the God of all the earth, who, in the exercise of His moral government, knows no national distinctions, and who will not be turned aside from the course of immutable rectitude by any show of liberality or splendour, even in the oblations or the ritual which He has Himself established.[3]

10:17 This verse introduces a description of the greatness of God who is a God of majesty and power. The Hebraic expressions used are superlatives to emphasise the uniqueness of Israel’s God. In Revelation 19:16 Christ is depicted as riding on a white horse and on his robe and his thigh was written: ‘King of Kings and Lord of Lords’. Three adjectives are used here of God: ‘great’, ‘mighty’ and ‘awesome’. Together they emphasise his exalted nature, and two of them (‘great and awesome’) have already been used together in 7:21. The word ‘mighty’ has military overtones, as it is used of heroes in battle. It is probably employed here because of the idea of God as the one who fought for Israel and delivered them from the power of Egypt (see 1:29–31). The term is later a fitting expression for the coming messianic king (Isa. 9:6, ‘mighty God’). The two further attributes of God (‘shows no partiality’ and ‘accepts no bribes’) are also the ones which his vice-regents, the kings of Israel, were also expected to display. His earthly representatives were not to be partial in judgment nor able to be ‘bought’ by bribery. These two principles were foundational for justice in Israel.[4]

17. Whereas the first triplet and superlative open with the Lord’s ownership of, and sovereignty over, the highest heavens (v. 14), the second triplet begins with the Lord’s relationship to all other spiritual realities, in language similar to God of gods and Lord of lords (cf. Ps. 136:1–26). In effect, this superlative use of language is really affirming the monotheistic truth expressed about Yahweh at 4:35 (The Lord is God: besides him there is no other; cf. 32:39) and at 6:4 (Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one). In other words, Yahweh is the only supreme God and ruling Lord in heaven and on earth (4:39; cf. 3:24; Ps. 136:2–9, 15–20). Verse 17 then goes on to describe God as great, mighty and awesome, emphasizing his exalted nature. Two of these adjectives (great and awesome) have already been used at 7:21 within a military context. The middle term, mighty (gibbōr), also has military overtones (e.g. Ps. 24:8; Isa. 42:13). But there is a surprising link between these military characteristics and the remaining two moral attributes of God, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes, illustrative of the ideal judge (cf. 1:16–17; 16:19). This link might be a natural consequence of the Lord’s supreme authority over the heavens and the earth (v. 14), in which Yahweh stands as the Judge of all the earth who will always do right (Gen. 18:25; Ps. 146:5–10). At the same time, it might also reflect the ideal of kingship in the Ancient Near Eastern world, in which the king, as the representative of the gods, was responsible for protecting the weak and vulnerable (cf. Ps. 72:1–20; 2 Sam. 14:1–33). But in Deuteronomy, it is Yahweh who initially fulfils this role. In the meantime, the enforcement of Yahweh’s impartiality and the question of bribes are the responsibility of the judges and officials within the law courts (1:16–17; 16:18–20; cf. Exod. 23:3, 6–8).[5]

17. For the Lord your God. Lest they should despise this teaching, he reminds them of God’s awful power; for the cause of contempt and negligence is, that the majesty of God does not always obtain its due reverence. Wherefore he inspires them with fear, to deter them from self-indulgence and indifference.[6]

17. What a sublime representation is here given, in the compass of a short verse, of the greatness of Jehovah. And what a sweet relief is it to the mind of the faithful, when at any time they are overpowered with the greatness of the Godhead, to call to mind that we are not only permitted to look up, but to draw near, through him who is our way, and truth, and life. Blessed Jesus! thou day’s-man of thy people! may I through thee draw near at all times, to a gracious God and Father in Jesus. Eph. 2:18.[7]

10:17 / The second triplet begins with another burst of hymnody, similar in form to verse 14, but with its emphasis not so much on God in relation to the created order (heavens and earth) as on God in relation to all other spiritual realities. God of gods and Lord of lords; like “heavens of heavens” in v. 14, these should be understood as superlative expressions. Yahweh is “the highest God and supreme Lord.” Whatever other spiritual realities exist, they are subject to Yahweh. Again the question of monotheism arises, and again it seems inadequate to say, as some commentators do, that only a relative mono-Yahwism is in view. For the text does not say merely that Yahweh is the only God for Israel (while allowing for the legitimate jurisdiction of other national deities), but affirms that Yahweh is the supreme God over all. Yahweh’s sovereignty is not just covenantal but cosmic. The conviction expressed poetically here seems very similar to the conviction expressed politically (and with scant regard for diplomatic niceties) at the international conference of Middle Eastern states in Jerusalem in ca. 594 bce by Jeremiah (Jer. 27:5ff.). The same truth was acknowledged with surprise by the object of that word, Nebuchadnezzar himself (Dan. 2:47; 4:25, 34f.). Yahweh, the God who owns the world (v. 14), is also the God who runs the world (v. 17).

The affirmation of Yahweh’s universal ownership and universal lordship in vv. 14 and (especially) 17 clearly stakes out the dynamic and polemical claims of Israel’s faith. Israel lived in an ancient Near Eastern macro-culture as religiously plural as any era in which God’s people have had to live. Unless verses such as Deuteronomy 10:14 and 17 are dismissively relativized as cultic hyperbole or as confessionally true only for Israel (not ontologically or definitionally true of ultimate deity), then they clearly stand out against the dominant cultural polytheism and need to be taken seriously. Similarly, and with greater missiological relevance for Christian claims within the modern controversy over religious pluralism, the fact that early Christian worship could apply such language to Jesus (Rev. 17:14; 19:16; cf. 1:18, etc.), shows both the determination of nt Christians to affirm the universal lordship of Christ in ways that clashed with all the religious plurality of their context and also their determination to do so within a consistent framework of scriptural monotheism. They saw no incompatibility, in other words, in including Jesus in the affirmation of Deuteronomy 10:14, 17 (cf. 1 Cor. 8:4–6).

Unlike human lords and so many of the members of ancient Near Eastern pantheons, Yahweh had no favorites and no price (v. 17b). The expression shows no partiality is (lit.) “he does not lift up faces,” i.e., he does not base decisions on selective favoritism. Now this might seem to be in considerable tension with verse 15 until we remember that Deuteronomy has already explicitly excluded the idea that God’s election of Israel was some kind of favoritism (7:7; 9:4f.). Unfortunately, the very notion of divine election is still frequently caricatured and dismissed by Christians as self-selection dressed up as divine will, or, worse, divine favoritism. The statement of God’s love for Israel in verse 15 is bounded by (and so to be understood in relation to) affirmations of God’s ownership of the whole earth (v. 14) on the one side, and of God’s impartiality (v. 17) on the other. It should not be pulled out of that context and defined in a way that denies either of those enveloping truths.[8]

[1] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Dt 10:17). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[2] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 348). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[3] Brown, D., Fausset, A. R., & Jamieson, R. (n.d.). A Commentary, Critical, Experimental, and Practical, on the Old and New Testaments: Genesis–Deuteronomy (Vol. I, p. 647). London; Glasgow: William Collins, Sons, & Company, Limited.

[4] Harman, A. M. (2001). Deuteronomy: The Commands of a Covenant God (pp. 133–134). Ross-shire, Great Britain: Christian Focus Publications.

[5] Woods, E. J. (2011). Deuteronomy: An Introduction and Commentary. (D. G. Firth, Ed.) (Vol. 5, pp. 173–174). Nottingham, England: Inter-Varsity Press.

[6] Calvin, J., & Bingham, C. W. (2010). Commentaries on the Four Last Books of Moses Arranged in the Form of a Harmony (Vol. 1, p. 359). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[7] Hawker, R. (2013). Poor Man’s Old Testament Commentary: Deuteronomy–2 Samuel (Vol. 2, p. 58). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[8] Wright, C. J. H. (2012). Deuteronomy. (W. W. Gasque, R. L. Hubbard Jr., & R. K. Johnston, Eds.) (pp. 147–149). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.