Deuteronomy 8:1-11 Humility can be thought of as a weakness in today’s society. Why do people forget the road they traveled in life and who helped them in their accomplishments? Deuteronomy extols humility as liberating and explains its purpose.

Lest We Forget

Bible Background • DEUTERONOMY 8
Printed Text • DEUTERONOMY 8:1-11 | Devotional Reading • 1 CORINTHIANS 9:19-27

Words You Should Know

A. Humble (Deuteronomy 8:2) anah (Heb.)— To afflict, weaken, humiliate

B. Prove (v. 2) nasah (Heb.)—To test, try, or tempt

 

Teacher Preparation

Unifying Principle—The Resolve to Remember. Humility can be thought of as a weakness in today’s society. Why do people forget the road they traveled in life and who helped them in their accomplishments? Deuteronomy extols humility as liberating and explains its purpose.

A. Read the Bible Background and Devotional Reading.

B. Pray for your students and lesson clarity.

C. Read the lesson Scripture in multiple translations.

 

O—Open the Lesson

A. Begin the class with prayer.

B. Play a video of Frank Sinatra singing “My Way” from a video-sharing site. Help the class critique the attitude expressed in this popular song.

C. Have the students read the Aim for Change and the In Focus story.

D. Ask students how events like those in the story weigh on their hearts and how they can view these events from a faith perspective.

P—Present the Scriptures

A. Read the Focal Verses and discuss the Background and The People, Places, and Times sections.

B. Have the class share what Scriptures stand out for them and why, with particular emphasis on today’s themes.

 

E—Explore the Meaning

A. Use In Depth or More Light on the Text to facilitate a deeper discussion of the lesson text.

B. Pose the questions in Search the Scriptures and Discuss the Meaning.

C. Discuss the Liberating Lesson and Application for Activation sections.

 

N—Next Steps for Application

A. Summarize the value of keeping the commands of God.

B. End class with a commitment to pray to turn to God alone for salvation and all blessings.

Worship Guide
For the Superintendent or Teacher
Theme: Lest We Forget
Song: “O God Our Help in Ages Past”

Aim for Change

By the end of this lesson, we will UNDERSTAND what humility is in the light of God’s commandments, APPRECIATE God’s blessings and our need for humility before the Lord, and PRACTICE living a life of humility.

In Focus

After high school, Jimmy became a licensed barber. To gain experience he worked at a few shops. But each time it left a negative taste in his spirit. High booth rents, unprofessional management teams, and lack of respect from other barbers made him fed up with the industry. He decided to take a break.

Every week the customers he had gained over the years would hit him up to see when they could come to get a cut. Eventually, he gave in and slowly started back cutting hair. Soon every weekend Jimmy was booked up cutting hair in his basement. He fell back in love with cutting hair. Not only was he cutting hair, but also he was able to help his customers and give them advice whenever they needed it. That’s what kept his customers coming back. Not many barbershops gave you a fresh cut and advice.

Barbering was his ministry, but soon weekends weren’t enough to cut all of his customers. Finally, Jimmy decided to open up his own barbershop. He knew he wouldn’t be able to open up his shop without the support of his customers, family, and friends. He dedicated his grand opening to everyone who helped him throughout the years.

“I just want to thank all of you for supporting me throughout the years,” Jimmy said. “I’ve wanted to open my own shop since I was a teenager. Because of setbacks, I wasn’t able to make it a reality until today. I fell out of love with cutting hair, and if it wasn’t for you all supporting me, I wouldn’t be here right now. So this is for you all!”

Whose prayers and support helped you get to the place you are right now? How have you thanked them for everything they’ve done?

“Beware that thou forget not the LORD thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day.” (Deuteronomy 8:11, KJV)

“But that is the time to be careful! Beware that in your plenty you do not forget the LORD your God and disobey his commands, regulations, and decrees that I am giving you today.” (Deuteronomy 8:11, NLT)

KJV Deuteronomy 8:1 All the commandments which I command thee this day shall ye observe to do, that ye may live, and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers.

2 And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no.

3 And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.

4 Thy raiment waxed not old upon thee, neither did thy foot swell, these forty years.

5 Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that, as a man chasteneth his son, so the LORD thy God chasteneth thee.

6 Therefore thou shalt keep the commandments of the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to fear him.

7 For the LORD thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills;

8 A land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey;

9 A land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack any thing in it; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig brass.

10 When thou hast eaten and art full, then thou shalt bless the LORD thy God for the good land which he hath given thee.

11 Beware that thou forget not the LORD thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day.

NLT Deuteronomy 8:1 “Be careful to obey all the commands I am giving you today. Then you will live and multiply, and you will enter and occupy the land the LORD swore to give your ancestors.

2 Remember how the LORD your God led you through the wilderness for these forty years, humbling you and testing you to prove your character, and to find out whether or not you would obey his commands.

3 Yes, he humbled you by letting you go hungry and then feeding you with manna, a food previously unknown to you and your ancestors. He did it to teach you that people do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.

4 For all these forty years your clothes didn’t wear out, and your feet didn’t blister or swell.

5 Think about it: Just as a parent disciplines a child, the LORD your God disciplines you for your own good.

6 So obey the commands of the LORD your God by walking in his ways and fearing him.

7 For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land of flowing streams and pools of water, with fountains and springs that gush out in the valleys and hills.

8 It is a land of wheat and barley; of grapevines, fig trees, and pomegranates; of olive oil and honey.

9 It is a land where food is plentiful and nothing is lacking. It is a land where iron is as common as stone, and copper is abundant in the hills.

10 When you have eaten your fill, be sure to praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you.

11 But that is the time to be careful! Beware that in your plenty you do not forget the LORD your God and disobey his commands, regulations, and decrees that I am giving you today.”

People, Places, and Times

The Wilderness Wandering. When the Israelites left Egypt, there were more than 600,000 men, women, and children in the caravan. There was no way that the meager resources of the Sinai desert could support a multitude of that number, so the people were completely dependent on God for their survival.

God caused a sweetbread called “manna” to rain down from heaven to sustain them (Exodus 16:4, 31). When the people grew tired of the heavenly bread, God fed them with quail (vv. 13–14). When the people ran out of water, He miraculously provided them with water (Exodus 17:6; Numbers 20:11).

Ever since crossing the Red Sea, the people were quarrelsome and discontented. In spite of all that God had done for them, they could not find it in their hearts to trust Him. Whenever adversity struck, the people would complain rather than pray. God allowed the Israelites many different opportunities to trust Him when faced with hardship, but each time they failed.

 

Background

Deuteronomy is the second telling of God’s Law to Moses and the Children of Israel. The people of Israel are about to enter the Promised Land after wandering in the wilderness for 40 years as a result of their disobedience. A new generation of Israelites is present to hear the Law who do not remember being delivered from slavery in Egypt or being called to worship God. Many of the people present do not remember being disobedient to the Lord and committing idolatry when they received the Covenant. Yet they have had their own experiences with temptation and sin as well as witnessing God’s deliverance and provision.

Moses is retelling the Law and reminding the Israelites of the Covenant to encourage them to keep God’s commandments and prepare them to begin their new lives in the Promised Land with the Lord. If the Israelites humble themselves and follow God’s Law, they will prosper in the land God is giving them.

How can we pass down lessons we have learned to the generations that come after us?

At-A-Glance

1. A Promise Kept (Deuteronomy 8:1–2)
2. A Memory of Provision (vv. 3–6)
3. A Place of Plenty (vv. 7–11)

 

In Depth

1. A Promise Kept (Deuteronomy 8:1–2) Moses is relaying the responsibilities of the Covenant the Lord made with the Children of Israel on Mount Horeb before they enter into the Promised Land. The Lord told the Children of Israel that they were to keep His commandments, including the Ten Commandments and many others found in Exodus and repeated in Deuteronomy. If the Israelites keep the commandments, then they will multiply and prosper in the Promised Land as a result of God’s glorious presence.

Moses also notes that God is keeping His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob by delivering the people into the Promised Land and allowing them to multiply and prosper there. But as a result of God’s sovereign knowledge and the Israelites’ disobedience when they received the covenant, the Lord tested them in the wilderness. They were shown the power and provision of God, as well as the result of their disobedience, for 40 years as they wandered.

Why do you think it is important that Moses reminds the Israelites about the promises God made to them and their ancestors?

 

2. A Memory of Provision (vv. 3–6) Moses shares two examples of how the Lord miraculously provided for the Children of Israel during their time in the wilderness. The Lord supplied manna when they were hungry and preserved their clothes and shoes for decades. This was done not only to test their character, but to show the character of God. God is a provider, but also a parent to them. God will not leave them, but does want them to demonstrate obedience and faithfulness to Him. If they fear God—meaning they respect Him—they will obey Him. If they do not obey the Lord, they will face discipline through trials that are ultimately for their good and will develop them into the people of God they are called to be.

How is God like a parent in our lives? How is God different from an earthly parent?

 

3. A Place of Plenty (vv. 7–11) Moses closes this portion of his address by describing the greatness of the Promised Land. The land God is giving the Children of Israel is plentiful. For the people of Israel who are living in a world of farmers, shepherds, and traders, this land will be paradise. The soil is fertile, there is natural fruit, there are abundant water sources, and there is mineral wealth for building and trading. God is giving this tiny soon-to-be nation all of the resources it needs to flourish.

Moses warns that the response to this abundance should be humility and thanksgiving. If the Israelites inherit all of these blessings and forget the Lord who gave it to them, they will face judgment. If they do not keep the commands, laws, decrees, and regulations of the Lord, they will not prosper as they are supposed to in the place of God’s promise.

How are the responsibilities the Lord gives the Israelites as they move from slavery to freedom similar to the responsibilities of a Christian moving from sin to freedom?

Search the Scriptures

1. What were the Children of Israel told to do in order to prosper in the Promised Land (Exodus 8:11)?
2. How had God shown provision for the Children of Israel while they wandered in the desert (vv. 3–4)?

 

Discuss the Meaning

1. Moses reminded the Israelites of their past struggles as well as God’s faithfulness through them. How can remembering what we have been through prepare us for our future?

2. Moses wanted the Israelites to remember to be humble as they walked into prosperity in the land of Canaan. How can we keep ourselves humble when we experience great blessings?

Liberating Lesson

Nationalism is on the rise all across the world as various leaders use the idea of their nation as the greatest nation to maintain power and polarize politics. There is increased pressure to fully support the government and all of its actions, or be labeled as unpatriotic or even a traitor. But this is not the way of Christ. No nation is perfect, and no nation should think it is above criticism. No person or group of people prospered because of their own work alone. It is the provision of God, the work of generations, and particular circumstances that allow for times of prosperity.

Today we are more interconnected than ever; every nation’s policies and economy affect another. Events that are significant in one nation often impact a dozen others. We are called by God to be humble as believers, even as we recognize God calls us for promise. Israel was reminded before they entered the Promised Land to be humble as a nation. God had delivered them; they had not delivered themselves. It was only by their humility and obedience to God’s command that they would prosper in the land. As believers we must remind ourselves to be humble, keep our leaders accountable, and resist the pride of nationalism. How have you seen pride in a particular group become destructive? How can you avoid that same pride in groups that you belong to whether church, ethnicity, government, or organization?

 

Application for Activation

We all need reminders of how far we have come in order to keep us from becoming prideful. Without them it is easy to believe that all of our success is because of how great we are. There is no one who has lived that is entirely “self-made.” Success should not only be measured in material things and positions. Indeed even the great kings in Scripture, Solomon and David, were successes in some ways and failures in others, especially with their families. But God is able to deliver us as God delivered them. We must have people in our lives to keep us accountable, and also to remind ourselves of how God and others contributed to our success.

How do you keep yourself humble? This week take an opportunity to journal about your testimonies that keep you humble. It can be times you recognize you only made it by God’s power, memories of lessons you’ve learned from past mistakes, or thinking about the people who paved the way for you to be where you are. Whatever reminds you to be humble, thank God for it, and also for His promise to be with you as you seek to do His will.

 

Follow the Spirit

What God wants me to do?


 


 

Remember Your Thoughts

Special insights I have learned?


 


More Light on the Text

Deuteronomy 8:1–11 Moses has just reminded the Israelites of all the way they have come across the desert and 40 years in the wilderness. During this time God had protected them mightily and they had prospered. Moses reminds them of the basic tenets of following the Lord, the Ten Commandments and the Shema. He has reminded Israel that God has chosen them, but not because of any greatness of their own. Because God has chosen them, they should continually choose God over the gods of neighboring nations.

 

1 All the commandments which I command thee this day shall ye observe to do, that ye may live, and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers. Having established all this, Moses calls the people to observe all of the commandments of the Law. If they do so, God will prosper them. They will live and “multiply,” words that recall God’s original promise to Abraham to make him a great nation, with descendants as numerous as the stars and grains of sand. Indeed Moses continues to emphasize God’s promises that they will not only multiply but also go in and possess the land “which the LORD sware unto your fathers.” At long last, the Israelites are on the cusp of gaining the inheritance they have been waiting on for 685 years from Abraham’s covenant through their time in Egypt plus their time in the wilderness.

 

2 And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no. Moses sets up a kind of thesis statement describing his authoritative interpretation of God’s actions over the past decades. God’s purpose in the 40 years in the wilderness was (1) to humble them, (2) to test (KJV: “prove”) them, and (3) to know what was in their heart. There is a sequence to these verbs. First God humbles them (Heb. ‘anah, aw-NAW), which means to afflict, weaken, or humiliate. God could have made the Israelites’ wilderness wandering easier, but He chose to make it difficult for them. Why? In order to “prove” (Heb. nasah, naw-SAW) them. This means to test or try out. It is also translated as “tempt” (Deuteronomy 6:16). People cannot be truly tested when they go through something easy. Even though practice runs are designed to be easy enough to get through, the final test is designed to induce strain and requires the testtaker to remember and implement everything they have learned.

But why was it important for God to test the Israelites? In order to know (Heb. yada‘, yaw-DAH) them fully. Were they going to continue following Him when the going got tough? Similar language is used to describe the narrative of God asking Abraham to sacrifice Isaac (Genesis 22). God sets out to test Abraham (same Hebrew word: nasah; v. 1) in order to “know” (again same word: yada‘, v. 12) what Abraham would do.

God is omniscient and in some sense already knows what will happen, but He wants to witness it. The plot of history is not what drives God, but the relationships He delights in building. He wants to give us the chance to choose that future He has foreknown. He wants us to know—through our own observation— what we will do in difficult situations. Will we follow God, even when it means the seeming destruction of all we hold dear? Will we trust that He knows what is best, and will protect us and guide us to our Promised Land?

 

3 And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live. In His plan to humble Israel, God allowed (KJV: “suffered”) them to get hungry in the wilderness. The affliction He chose as His testing medium was hunger. He does not intend for the Israelites to starve, or simply to make their lives miserable. He has a plan to work a miracle. He gives them manna. Moses stresses that the Israelites did not even know what manna was, but God made it for them. Their parents also did not even know manna was an option, but God had been doing it every day for 40 years. Every day for 40 years, God had been providing bread for the Israelites that literally has the name “what’s this stuff?”

As stated in Moses’ first thesis statement (v. 2), this is done so that they would know to trust God. God didn’t just give them bread; they knew about bread and how that worked. God gave them manna so that they would hang on His every word about how to use and collect it. Note the repetition of the word “know” in this verse. They did not “know” manna, nor did their parents “know” about it, but God gave it to them to “make them know” they could trust Him to provide for their every need.

“Man” here is ’adam (Heb. aw-DOM) with the definite article, which means a better translation would be “a human.” Every human needs more than bread or food to survive. To fully live, we need God’s instructions, and that is just what He always provides for us to miraculous extent, whether it be through prophets, or His Son, or the faithfully preserved word of Scripture.

This verse is widely known in Christian circles because Jesus quotes it when Satan tempts Him. During Satan’s first test, he suggested Jesus turn stones into bread. Jesus perhaps selected this verse because Satan was tempting Him when He was hungry in the wilderness, just as the Israelites had been. Jesus responds with not just this verse, but with this entire passage in mind. He knows what it is to be in the wilderness, what it means for God to allow Him to become hungry. He knows that He need only wait for God and humbly trust Him that “man shall not live by bread alone…”

Jesus does not simply recite a random verse that happened to mention bread. He chose a verse that richly applied thematically to His situation. This can only be done with faithful study of the Word. We must read and reread the sacred texts so that they become a part of us. We must know their words, their contexts, their stories, and their themes. Those who know their Scriptures so well do not possess some special memorization skill. They do it by being in the Word daily. How would the church change if all Christians had such a deep and thorough knowledge of Scripture? Certainly when temptation comes, we would be ready, armed with the Sword of the Truth.

 

4 Thy raiment waxed not old upon thee, neither did thy foot swell, these forty years. Moses reminds them of miracles they experienced during their wanderings. Their clothes did not grow (KJV: “wax”) worn out, nor did their feet swell from so much walking through rough terrain. These are not as flashy as the miracle of Aaron’s staff budding or calling water from a rock with the strike of a staff. Those miracles are certainly something to remember, but they only occurred once in the generational time-span the Israelites experienced. The big miracles are recorded in the Israelites’ cultural texts, but the miracles Moses mentions here have a different significance.

This is a miracle that shows God providing for His children in the details of everyday life and physical needs that will help them survive. God cares not just about our eternal souls, but He cares about your life here and now too. He provides our daily bread, not only spiritual insight to help us grow more like Him, but physical bread to eat every day so that we can continue our bodily existence.

 

5 Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that, as a man chasteneth his son, so the LORD thy God chasteneth thee. 6 Therefore thou shalt keep the commandments of the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to fear him. God has done all this for His people. It is exactly what a father does for his children. He provides food, clothes, and health. Even when the children have no idea how their parents will provide, they do. This illustration is also used in Hebrews, where it impresses that the hard discipline God uses on His people is for our benefit. Indeed, God through Moses explains here that the chastening God has forced them through in the Wilderness was to ensure that they would keep His commandments. When God “chasteneth” (Heb. yasar, yaw-SAR) this means He teaches and corrects. The word is sometimes used in the context of physical correction of a father of his children (1 Kings 12:14; Proverbs 29:19). It is also used of simple instruction (1 Chronicles 15:22; Isaiah 28:26).

Often in Deuteronomy, Moses states the same basic idea with three different words. This rhetorical device is often used in modern English too, known as the “Rule of Three.” This technique is used primarily to aid the memory. God’s chastening had the purpose of making sure the Israelites (1) keep the commandments (2) walk in His ways, and (3) fear Him. These all communicate the same idea. The way to walk in His way is to keep the commandments, which shows your fear of Him.

Throughout the Old Testament, many discuss the “fear of the LORD.” This word (Heb. yare’, yaw-RAY) can refer to our common modern use of fear, as in to be afraid or terrified. This is not the best translation to understand the kind of relationship God desires with His children, however. The kind of fear God expects from His followers is a reverence for His power and glory. God is capable of changing our lives in a heartbeat. We only survive because of His mercy and forbearance. We know that He can and will dispense vengeance and judgment. If we are on the receiving end of this, truly, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31). In His mercy, though, God has chosen not to destroy us for our sins, but to grow us through some measure of chastisement that would work to draw us closer to Him and to keeping His commandments.

 

7 For the LORD thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; 8 A land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey; 9 A land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack any thing in it; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig brass. Expanding on the usual description of “flowing with milk and honey,” Moses paints the Promised Land as a place of plenty. It has water sources, both streams and springs. It can grow food staples of wheat and barley, but it will also grow crops that show prosperity, like grapes, figs, and pomegranates. It will flow not only with olive oil to support their usual diet, but also honey as a special treat. This wide variety of crops will grow in abundance. There will be no scarcity of bread, nor any lack of any kind.

Having assured them of their basic needs, Moses moves on to other kinds of resources the Promised Land holds for them. They will possess valuable mineral deposits. The land will also provide for them strong, durable metals like iron and brass. Moses’ time is right around the end of what is called the “Iron Age” and leading into the “Bronze Age.” During this time, smiths improved their skill so that they could shape not only iron, but copper alloys as well. Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc, and bronze is copper alloyed with tin (with a few other metals sometimes added). The Hebrew word is nekhosheth (Heb. neh-KHO-shet), and is also translated copper, which is found in areas Israel would control during the early monarchy. The ancient Hebrew language does not distinguish between copper and its alloys, though by context we can usually infer if the text means the elemental material copper (like here), or the alloy bronze which was widely used in weapons and tools at the time (1 Samuel 17:5).

 

10 When thou hast eaten and art full, then thou shalt bless the LORD thy God for the good land which he hath given thee. 11 Beware that thou forget not the LORD thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day. Moses encourages the Israelites that they should remember to bless God for all the abundance they will enjoy in the Promised Land and not forget Him. This illustrates another reason the parent/child illustration is accurate for God’s relationship with His people. The example of manna shows this. After years and years of manna being there for them every morning, they got used to it. This is just like when someone’s child does not realize how hard it is for their parents to put food in front of them every day. The child will eat without batting an eye, because that is how the parents have always provided for them. So too, we so often get used to miracles. That job you landed, that baby that survived a difficult pregnancy, that addiction you conquered. God did all those things, and we forget to keep thanking Him for them.

Moses closes this section of Scripture again with the rule of three to help the Israelites remember his words. Although commandments, judgments, and statues can have nuanced application in legal code, here they are used interchangeably. The repetition enforces Moses’ insistence that God’s people obey every single law God has given them.

 

Sources: 
Henry, Matthew. Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible:
New Modern Edition. Vols. 1-6. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson
Publishers, Inc., 2009.
Kaplan, Jacob. “Metals & Mining.” Jewish Virtual Library, a Project
of AICE. American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise. https://
www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/metals-mining. 2008. Accessed
10/27/2020.
Strong, James. The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible.
Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2003.
Thayer, Joseph Henry. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament.
New York: American Book Company, 1889.

Say It Correctly

Horeb. HOR-ebb.
Shema. shuh-MAW.

Daily Bible Readings

MONDAY
Remember God’s Blessings
(Deuteronomy 8:12–20)

TUESDAY
Hear and Act
(James 1:19–27)

WEDNESDAY
Humble Yourselves and
Resist the Adversary
(1 Peter 5:5–9)

THURSDAY
Bless the Lord, O My Soul
(Psalm 103:1–10)

FRIDAY
God’s Love Is Everlasting
(Psalm 103:11–22)

SATURDAY
Remember Christ and Endure
(2 Timothy 2:8–13)

SUNDAY
Keep the Lord’s Commandments
(Deuteronomy 8:1–11)