Be Compassionate to those in Need

Deuteronomy 24

Jerry A Collins




v        How does God view the issue of divorce?

v        In what ways can we display compassion for the needy?

v        How should we view lending to those who are poor?


Unfortunately, people do practice behavior that we may not be able to stop, but we can at least try to regulate and contain. The FCC exists to regulate commerce on wall street not because they approve of underhanded dealing but because they acknowledge it exists but must be regulated and contained for the confidence of investing. The commissioners office exists in baseball to regulate things like drug use and players not because they are giving permission for it’s use but because it must be regulated and contained for the integrity of baseball. This is the way the Old Testament regarded the issue of divorce for instance. The Law regulated certain kinds of behavior like this not because it approved of the behavior but because it recognized it’s reality and the need for it to be contained.


A. If a man marries a wife and he finds some sexual indecency in her—cannot be adultery nor premarital sex since both meant death—and then divorces her officially with a certificate stating so—given for her own protection to substantiate if she was wanting to remarry for instance—that she is legitimately available and she leaves and becomes another man’s wife and he either divorces her (hates her) or dies, she cannot go back to her first husband since she had been defiled. Further, we learn that if she did so it would be an abomination—same word associated with homosexuality—before the Lord. The same word as detestable and it would be viewed as sin in the land—the very land God had set aside for His people as a holy place.

B. This is the passage the Pharisees referred to in Matthew 19:7. Jesus said, ‘Because of your hardness of heart, Moses permitted you to divorce your wife. But from the beginning it has not been this way.’ We also know, that in Malachi 2:16 ‘God hates divorce’. Deuteronomy 24 points out the reality of divorce but that does not mean divorce is approved of. The structure of the passage is an ‘if’ ‘then’ command. The ‘if’ part is stating what is going on—usually something sinful. The ‘then’ part is what is to be done now since the sin is already going on. Vs 1=3 is the ‘if’ part. It recognizes that divorce and remarriage is going on in Israel. The only command in the passage is vs 4. It begins with ‘then’—after the second marriage the woman cannot go back to her first husband. There is no permission for divorce and remarriage here. In vs 7 ‘if’ a man is caught kidnapping, ‘then’ he shall die. The ‘if’ part recognizes the reality of kidnapping. Surely no one would suggest that Moses approves of kidnapping. The same form is in 22:28-29 with fornication. Today, the application might be do not marry a previous wife and probably includes a husband as well.

C. Another marriage issue is in vs 5. When a man takes a new wife he is free from being in the army for one year. 20:7 also dealt with this. It would be considered heartless to have his life jeopardized. The reason is so that he can give happiness to his new wife he has taken. An application might be that your first priority after God, is to give happiness to your wife. God wants you to enjoy your wife and to please her. You took vows to your spouse you never took to your job.


Pledges 6 If you need to have some kind of collateral for payment, you cannot take a millstone as that pledge. If you do, you will be depriving him of his daily bread. Millstones were used daily in homes to grind the grain for bread every day. This would violate compassion that should have motivated the lender in the first place. An application might be ‘do not put pressure on poor people to pay back a loan’.

Punishment 7 If you kidnap, then you shall die. Kidnapping was depriving a victim of his freedom—by taking hi as a slave or selling him to someone else. The kidnapper was to be punished by death, as though he had taken the victim’s life. By application, how has God viewed the kidnapping and selling of slaves and Indians in America’s past and our views about it today?

Practice 8-9 Leviticus 1e3 states it more clearly, but the idea is that quarantine is to be observed when there are skin diseases like leprosy. Motivation to follow the clear instructions given previously was furnished by Miriam who because she opposed Moses was struck with leprosy (Numbers 12). So the skin diseases might also include measles chicken pox. An application might be practice good hygiene. It’s not good enough to just pray the sick. 3. DON’T OPPRESS PEOPLE WITH YOUR MONEY 10-15

Borrowing 10-13 If you loan some money do not go into the person’s house to take collateral. You cannot enter and just take anything you want. This is preserving the dignity of the poor borrower and preventing the lender from overstepping and being cruel or oppressive. And he cannot sleep with the collateral—keep it overnight because the person is poor and he needs his cloak as a blanket for the night as well. The point here is that lending and borrowing was a welfare system not a way to increase your business in the neighborhood or to get a bigger house. An application might be if you borrow, you should consider yourself responsible to repay back the loan. If you lend to the poor, consider it a gift. If you borrow, it should be because you are poor.

Paying 14-15 Pay the wages of the poor every day! Don’t hold it back until it is convenient for you because the poor are in survival mode to provide for his family each day. It could become your sin. We plan for the future but the poor just try to survive every day. That is why they are poor. An application might be to have enough money set aside when you hire a poor person to do some work for you that you can pay them immediately so you do not forget or neglect to do so.


Fathers 16 Fathers should not be put to death for sins of sons. Everyone should be put to death for their own sin violating the stipulations in the Law. No one could act as a substitute for anyone else. An application might be that you are personally responsible before God for your sin not your parents, your upbringing, your environment or your experiences. Ezekiel 18:20 elaborates on this.

Compassion 17-22 Be sure to give justice to the alien, the orphan and the widow vs 17. These could easily be oppressed in business, in the courts, and by the wealthy. A deterrent would be to remember Israel’s deliverance from Egypt and God commands them to do so vs 18. ‘Remember’ is the theme of the book! When they harvest their fields, leave enough for gleaning for the poor. Ruth is the best example of that. This would prevent the poorer ones from being reduced to humiliation by begging or seeking welfare. Again, a deterrent, would be vs 22 to remember—the theme of the book—their past oppression slavery in Egypt. An application might be always be compassionate and sensitive to widows, orphans and those who cannot support themselves. It is always an important thing with God (James says doing so is pure undefiled religion in the sight of our God and father 1:27.)