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Bible Commentaries
Deuteronomy 5

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Verse 1

Israel Is Called to Hear

Moses calls Israel together. He is a picture of the Lord Jesus as the Teacher who speaks God’s Word. He calls on them to “hear” – a word that, together with the word “listen” appears many times in this book – so that they will learn what God says and then do what God says. Hearing and doing are inseparable. Nothing is without obligation, because God has accepted this people to His own people. Hearing is necessary to survive as a people.

Verses 2-3

The Covenant

Moses points back to Horeb where God has brought the people into a covenant relationship with Himself and He has declared them to His people (Exodus 19:4-Deuteronomy :). The people to whom Moses addresses himself here are younger than twenty years of age at Horeb. But they represent the people who were present at Horeb at that time.

The LORD has not made this covenant with the fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, but with a people redeemed by Him. God has not made His covenant with a people who sigh under the bondage of sin, but with a new generation, a people who live.

Verses 4-5

Moses, the Mediator

With this new people the LORD has spoken face to face, while Moses stood as a mediator between the LORD and the people. Thus the Lord Jesus stood between God and us. In His face God has shown Himself to us: “For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). Where Israel feared, fear is gone for us: “There is no fear in love” (1 John 4:18). We are not on the basis of the law, but on the basis of grace.

From the mouth of the LORD come the ten commandments. They are given to a people who have committed themselves to do everything the LORD says. They need to learn that they cannot meet them in their own strength. For us the law is not literally applicable, but there is certainly a spiritual application. Through the law we can learn a lot about our relationships among each other and our relationship with God.

The lessons of this book are directly related to our Christian position. Moses tells them about the land they will soon enter, and on what basis they can possess and enjoy the blessings. That foundation is obedience.

The blessings of the Christian are twofold. There are earthly blessings and there are heavenly blessings. Earthly blessings are not specifically Christian. Even unbelievers can enjoy good health, nature and their jobs. The specific Christian blessings are those of the land, the heavenly places. There is the glorified Man Christ Jesus in heaven, and He shares all the blessings He has inherited as Man with the believers. That is why He became Man. Christ is seated in the heavenly places and the believer is there also seated in Him (Ephesians 1:3; Ephesians 2:4-Judges :).

The same Man Christ Jesus is also God the Son, of eternity. Hence the blessing of eternal life is also our part: “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3). Deuteronomy shows that the blessings are not automatically obtained by us. For that to happen, we need to take possession of that land here and now, with battle. From Deuteronomy 4 onwards, the road along which we can take possession of the blessings is shown.

Love manifests itself in keeping the commandments and that results in fellowship in the ‘land’. Loving God here corresponds for us with what the Lord Jesus says in John 14 (John 14:21; John 14:23). Believers who begin to be obedient, are going to see more and more of the heavenly things. The ten commandments are central in obedience. For us it is about the spiritual lesson from this.

Verse 6

The Redeeming God

What we will see in Deuteronomy 5:6-Ecclesiastes :, is not just a repetition of the ten commandments from Exodus 20. We can see this for instance when we look at the sabbath commandment. In Exodus 20, the motive to keep the sabbath is that the LORD made heaven and earth in six days and then rested (Exodus 20:11), while here the motive is that God realized a work of salvation (Deuteronomy 5:15). Furthermore, the last five commandments are explicitly linked here by the word ‘and’ between the commandments, which is lacking in Exodus 20.

God reminds them of the deliverance He has given them. He revealed Himself in the first place as the redeeming God, Who is now their God. This can’t but bring about love for Him. He asks love, but he first loved us and first manifested His great love for us by sending his Son to be “the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:9-2 Samuel :; 1 John 4:19; Romans 5:8). At the same time there should be respect. The nearer we get to Him – and He wants us to be near to Himself! – all the more we will see His majesty and exaltedness.

Verses 7-10

First and Second Commandment

For His people He is the exclusive, only God. It means that all areas of life are under His authority. We know God as the One Who has revealed Himself in the Lord Jesus. This is why we know Him so much more gloriously than Israel knows Him. He who loves Him will keep His commandments and worship Him. Then there is no room for other gods. But God sees the danger that the hearts of His people are always inclined to deviate from Him.

For us, that danger is no different. John speaks in his first letter about the blessing of eternal life in the believer. He ends his letter with the warning: “Little children, guard yourselves from idols” (1 John 5:21). Anything that interferes between us and God to tempt us to give it any honor is idolatry. As soon as we indulge in that temptation, we lose the enjoyment of the blessing of eternal life, which is Christ Himself: “And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life” (1 John 5:20).

God is a spirit and cannot be represented by anything. Each image can only be a caricature of Him Who cannot be portrayed by human hands. Then God would be in the hand of man, who takes something from creation and shapes it according to his own fantasy. Those who know Him by faith as Father may worship Him in spirit and truth. The Father seeks such people (John 4:23-Jeremiah :).

The only image we have of God is the Lord Jesus (Colossians 1:15). He can say: “He who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). Except for the Lord Jesus, nothing is known of God or is a blasphemous representation of Him. Every view of God according to his own thoughts is a graven image.

God does not share His honor with anything or anyone. Whoever wants to make anything of Him visible, will bear the iniquity thereof, even into the fourth generation, which with the taking over of idolatry will also suffer the anger of God. On the other hand, we see God’s mercy in the lives of those who love Him and honor Him and serve Him as the only God. In its effect, loving God carries much further, “to thousands”, than hating Him, “on the third and fourth” generations. Love far exceeds hatred.

Verse 11

Third Commandment

The commandment not to take the name of the LORD in vain is not limited to not being allowed to curse. It concerns any use of the Name of the Lord Jesus in a context in which His Name is mentioned as a cover for one’s own opinions. This can happen, for example, with swearing. The Lord Jesus warns of this (Matthew 5:33-Haggai :). Other forms of the vain use of His Name are for example: mentioning His Name and at the same time allowing sin in your life, or mentioning His Name as the center of meeting and still arrange the meeting according to your taste, or calling His Name, while we express our faith in Him in a worldly way.

Verses 12-15

Fourth Commandment

The first day of the week is not a disguised sabbath, to which all commandments must be transferred. What the sabbath is is written in Hebrews 4 (Hebrews 4:8-1 Samuel :). It represents the peace of the kingdom of peace. We may observe the sabbath spiritually by living as if God’s sabbath had already begun. From a spiritual point of view, we can live in peace.

The sabbath command is the core command of obedience. All other commandments can be understood even by unbelievers. The only reason for observing the sabbath is because God has commanded it. It is the great test for Israel for their obedience. Therefore the breaking of this commandment is called several times as a ground for judgment (Leviticus 26:35; 2 Chronicles 36:21). In the kingdom of peace the sabbath will be held again (Ezekiel 45:17).

The reason Christians celebrate the first day of the week, is not because the sabbath, the seventh day of the week, has been abolished, but because they spiritually died to the law. For them it is true: “Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead” (Romans 7:4). That is why Christians who died and raised with Christ celebrate as risen people the day of Christ’s resurrection, the first day of the week.

Here we learn that besides creation, salvation is the reason for our obedience. God is entitled to our obedience because He is our Creator. Does He not have a much greater right to our obedience because of the redemption He has brought about? Salvation is a more powerful motive for our hearts to be obedient. This redemption will also lead us to be merciful to others.

Verse 16

Fifth Commandment

From this verse begins the second table of the law with six commandments for the relationship to one’s neighbor. If that relationship is not in order, the believer cannot enjoy the blessings of the land either. On the first table of the law the relationship with God is regulated. In it we have His love for us and our answer to Him. “We love, because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). Our love does not only concern God, but also the brother. To love the brother is also a commandment.

The relationship with one’s neighbor begins with honoring father and mother, the first relation to one’s neighbor. Honoring father and mother has a purpose. It is about enjoying the blessings of the land. God has set up the family as a picture of God’s family, in which the relationship between parents and children should reflect the relationship between God the Father and His children.

In a spiritual sense, it means that the believers will honor those who are fathers and mothers in Christ in the church (Hebrews 13:17; 1 Thessalonians 2:7; 1 Thessalonians 2:11). In a similar way, we see it when young people are submissive to the elderly (1 Peter 5:5). If these relationships are respected, blessing will be the result.

Recognizing the authority relationships that God has given in the family and in the church causes enjoyment of the blessing of the land (Ephesians 6:1-Leviticus :). Whoever does not care about this authority will lose the blessing of the land, the delight in it will disappear.

Verse 17

Sixth Commandment

Here it is about murder, not killing by command of God exercised by the authorities (Genesis 9:6). Murder means taking away the blessing of the land from someone. Living means enjoying. With hatred there is no enjoyment, no eternal life (1 John 3:15). That hatred has a deadly effect, the Lord Jesus tells His disciples and us (Matthew 5:21-Song of Solomon :).

Paul points out how a brother can be lost through our liberty (1 Corinthians 8:9-1 Kings :). Instead of murdering, we should take care that our brother is given the space for an optimal enjoyment of the blessing of the land.

Verse 18

Seventh Commandment

This commandment maintains the unique relationship between man and woman in marriage. It is the basis of all other relationships between people. Whoever is unfaithful in marriage cannot be trusted in any other relationship, not in his relationship with God nor with his neighbor. The marriage relationship represents Israel’s relationship with God and God calls Israel His bride (Jeremiah 2:2). In the New Testament, marriage is the picture of the relationship between Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:22-Micah :).

In the spiritual sense adultery is having a connection with the world. It is the result of the cooling of the love for the Lord Jesus, for which love for other things comes in its place. The “simplicity … to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3) is gone, that is, Christ is no longer the only object of love. Adultery is opposed to the relationship of the church to Christ. Paul says: “I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you [as] a pure virgin” (2 Corinthians 11:2). In this relationship we see the affection of a bride in relation to the bridegroom. Then there can be no connection with the world.

Verse 19

Eighth Commandment

Stealing is taking away from another what that other person has received from the Lord and using for ourselves. It affects the right to personal property. It’s a lot different than getting. What you get is your property. Someone’s good name can be stolen, for instance, by spreading rumors or uncontrolled claims. One can steal a brother (Deuteronomy 24:7), that is, rob him of his freedom and make him dependent on oneself.

Absalom stole the heart of the Israelites by flattery (2 Samuel 15:5-Joshua :). Stealing is the work of false shepherds and a hired hand (John 10:1; John 10:10; Acts 20:30). They try to gather believers to themselves or their false doctrine instead of to the Lord Jesus.

Also words can be stolen (Jeremiah 23:30). That is to parrot what others have said about God while pretending we have discovered it in God’s Word. When I read or hear something from someone else, it must first become my spiritual property before I can pass it on. Someone concisely put it like that: You only can say of any truth that it is your property if it has first entered your heart and returned to God in worship.

For the Christian who knows his blessings, it is not just about not stealing, but about doing the opposite of it, namely to do good: “He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have [something] to share with one who has need” (Ephesians 4:28). That suits life in the land.

Verse 20

Ninth Commandment

God is “the God of truth” (Isaiah 65:16). His words are truth (Psalms 119:142; Psalms 119:151). He hates the false tongue and who utters lies (Proverbs 6:17; Proverbs 6:19). For the Christian, it is not only a matter of omission of what is untrue. He wants to speak the truth. He wants to speak of the things God has created us for: “Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one [of you] with his neighbor, for we are members of one another” (Ephesians 4:25).

Members of each other will not lie to each other, because a member realizes that he then lies to himself. Members are inextricably linked. Whoever knows and appreciates the unity of the body of Christ will search for what promotes unity.

Verse 21

Tenth Commandment

This commandment lays bare the germ of sin. It is not about what man does, about taking away what belongs to another, something that is visible, but what underlies it: lust. Another person doesn’t see that. Sin is characterized and known by lust (Romans 7:7-Ruth :). By envy, jealousy, not being content with what man has received, sin has come into the world. Being jealous on a neighbor for what he has may be about his possessions, but it may also be about his spiritual gift. This commandment makes it clear to everyone that he cannot keep the law.

Paul can say that he did not covet anyone’s silver, gold, or clothing, but that he worked to be able to give (Acts 20:33-Nahum :). In the area where everything is grace, it is a bad thing to covet what belongs to the other.

Verse 22

A Complete Word

These “Ten Words” (Deuteronomy 10:4) God spoke directly to the people and wrote them down Himself. The other words He has told Moses, who has passed them on to the people (Deuteronomy 5:31). The ‘ten words’ contain the basic code of conduct for all relationships with God and the neighbor, not only for the generation of the people to whom God has addressed the word, but also for all future generations. This short list contains everything and is therefore complete.

This word is a complete word to enjoy the blessing, nothing has been added. As they have been spoken, they are written. God is the speaking and writing God. What He speaks is always true. He writes to record it in an unchangeable way for us, so that we can always consult what He has said (cf. Isaiah 30:8).

Verses 23-27

The People Fear the LORD

The people fear the LORD and ask Moses to take their place between them and the LORD. With this God wants to introduce us to the meaning of the mediator. A mediator is not only someone who stands between us and God, but he also guarantees the consequences of our failure. Our Mediator is the Lord Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5). He gave His life and then stood ceaselessly between God and us, His people.

At the mountain full of fire, we discover that we need a mediator. This can be seen on the cross. There is no place where we discover this more, for there God has revealed Himself in darkness and fire toward sin.

Verses 28-30

The Desire of the LORD

The LORD is pleased with the attitude of the people. He acknowledges their words and expresses His desire that they should keep His commandments. His heart goes out to his people and He their happiness, which can only be found in doing what He says. We can fulfil His desires through the Spirit.

After God had told the people His words and after the reaction of the people who had rejoiced in His heart, they were allowed to go to their tents. In their daily lives, and especially in their domestic environment, they were allowed to live up to what God said to them, what they agreed to, and what He looked forward to.

Verses 31-33

Command to Keep the Commandments

The people were allowed to go to their tents, but Moses still had to stand by the LORD. The LORD tells Moses, as a mediator, everything he needs to teach the people to do in the land (Deuteronomy 5:31).

Moses urges the people to keep God's commandments. They must not deviate from this, neither to the right nor to the left. On it depend their abode and their welfare in the land (Deuteronomy 5:32-Micah :).

Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Deuteronomy 5". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/deuteronomy-5.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.
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