Deuteronomy 15 Commentary

Deuteronomy 15 Commentary: Rest from debt and slavery.

The LORD repeats the regulations regarding the sabbatical year. Deuteronomy is highlighting key events and key themes for Israel. This chapter is about rest for the indebted and the enslaved.

The overall concept of Sabbath is captured by different concepts in the various Sabbaths that Israel observed. We have the seventh day, the seventh year and the seven-by-seventh year observed as the year of jubilee. This chapter focuses on the seventh year. The important concept here is freedom. Rest is a better word as it expands our appreciation of the concept of Sabbath.    

Interestingly, the LORD envisions a people without debt because of abundance of blessings. Today the saint may look at this section for encouragement. We may starve for other reasons but it can never be due to failure by the LORD to provide. The grace to prosper materially is there for us all. None should be enslaved but this perfection is only in design. This idealism is long gone and Moses now applies himself to the realities on the ground. The poor will always be there – for one reason or the other, sadly.

The LORD warns against wickedness of thought. It is a hard one. One shouldn’t fail to help because they fear the debtor won’t pay back. In case of failure the LORD promises to pay back – kind of. Generosity is encouraged. It is the blessing of the LORD that the generous heart is never needy! Irony.

Three categories of help areas can be identified: your brother, the poor and the needy. More often than not, the poor and needy are one and the same. But it does happen that the needy are not necessarily the poor. They also need our help. A rich man in hospital needs help though he is not exactly poor. He is needy. And the brother? Well, that is you and me. At some point in our lives we all need help.

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Published by Joseph Malekani

Joseph Malekani is a born-again Christian with a strong PAOG/Baptist background. He is heavily involved in student ministry with ZAFES – an IFES movement with focus on student ministry in Zambia. He is married to Audrey and they have two lovely children.

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