Moses wrote several songs intended as memory aids at various points in his important work.
His song at the crossing of the Red Sea (Ex. 15) is a masterful poem of triumph and victory over
Egypt, and a declaration of God’s glory among the nations. On their wilderness journey, the
Israelites sang in celebration for God giving them water (Num. 21:17-18). And in Dt. 32 we find
the Song of Moses just prior to his death and burial upon Mt. Nebo. This amazing song may be
summarized as follows: Introduction (vs. 1-3); God’s Faithfulness Contrasted with Israel’s
Unfaithfulness (vs. 4-18); God’s Discipline of His People (vs. 19-33); and God’s Compassion
(vs. 34-42); and the Conclusion (vs. 43).
The Song of Moses skillfully predicts a time in which God’s people would depart from Him
in apostasy. It displays God’s mercy in His attempts to prevent their sin. It recounts man’s
stubbornness in departing from God’s way, and God’s resulting judgments. And it celebrates the
ultimate and complete triumph of God’s grace. Thus it foreshadows the basic framework and
message of all of God’s prophets who would follow Moses throughout the history of Israel.
Introduction (1-3): Moses calls upon heaven and earth as witnesses in order to emphasize
the importance of what is to follow. Give ear, ye heavens, and I will speak; And let the earth hear
the words of my mouth.
God’s Faithfulness vs. Man’s Unfaithfulness (4-18): Five times in this song Moses calls
God the “Rock” in order to emphasize His mighty power and unchanging character (cf. vs. 4, 15,
18, 30, 31). God’s work is “perfect.” A God of faithfulness and without iniquity. He is “just and
right.” In sharp contrast, that generation of people is described as “perverse and crooked.” Like
ungrateful children, they have spurned their loving Father who has provided for and possessed
them all these years.
There is a plea to remember the days of old. Consider the wisdom of your father, and others
older than yourself. Listen to them, and they will tell you about God. They will tell you how God
singled out Israel as his chosen people, and actively preserved them “as the Apple of his Eye.”
Without the help of any foreign gods, God protected his people like an eagle who spreads his
wings over its nest. He blessed Israel in their affection, and provided for them generously with
the finest of the wheat. But when Israel was well fed and comfortable, he forsook God who made
him, and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation.
God’s Discipline of His People (19-33): In his anger, God will turn them over to enormous
rejection and punishment. This will include hiding his face from them with all of the generous
blessings which would normally be theirs. They have provoked God to anger, like a burning fire
of destruction. God will allow them to be wasted with heat and hunger. He would let them know
the terror of beasts and poisonous creatures. They would be scattered and unprotected because
of their ignorance and refusal to understand. Like the vile men of Sodom and Gomorrah, their
immorality is cruel and poisonous.
God’s Compassion (34-42): God never loses his natural mercy and deep love for his people.
Even in the face of such corruption, there is hope for correction. For Jehovah will judge his
people and repent himself for his servants when he seeth that their power is gone. In their lost
and pitiful state, God reminds them that their false gods cannot save them, and are useless. Rescue
is only available through Jehovah.
Conclusion (43): Rejoice, O ye nations, with his people: For he will avenge the blood of his
servants, And will render vengeance to his adversaries, And will make expiation for his land, for
his people. In this amazing verse, there is a prediction that God will bring salvation to the Gentiles
(“nations”) despite the unbelief and disobedience of “his people” (the Jews), and that God’s grace
would eventually make possible the salvation of Jews and Gentiles alike.
Like many of the prophecies of old, God’s people could sing, and remember these words,
even if they did not then fully appreciate their significance. With the benefit of hindsight, we are
blessed to be able to appreciate them much more fully today.
– by Robert C. Veil, Jr.