Deuteronomy 20 Commentary

Deuteronomy Chapter 20: Warfare.

This chapter discusses a couple of key activities before Israel engages an enemy in battle. The Christian walk is often described as a battlefield. The saint today should reflect on the importance of preparedness for warfare.

Firstly, the priest stands up and declares victory based on the fact that it is the LORD that grants victory. It’s a powerful starting point in any spiritual warfare. The LORD is fighting for Israel so the military strength of the enemy is not important. The LORD will supply the victory while both courage and strategy are supplied by the military.   

Secondly, the military officers speak to the troops. “Has anyone built a new house and not yet begun to live in it? Let him go home, or he may die in battle and someone else may begin to live in it.” The message is clear. Go and fight knowing that failure is not an option – very powerful military rhetoric. How do we face our own battles? Riskless, lazy and objectless. This is my sorry testimony. This scripture left me red-faced.

Then the officers shall add, “Is anyone afraid or fainthearted? Let him go home so that his fellow soldiers will not become disheartened too.” We are reminded to keep away from individuals who discourage us. In the victory equation, man supplies courage and strategy while the LORD supplies the victory.

Israel is to exercise mercy by enslaving conquered peoples instead of killing everyone. But this token of kindness is for other peoples, other than the Canaanite group who should be destroyed completely. We already know the reasons.

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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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