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Bible Commentaries

L. M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible

Deuteronomy 24

 

 

Verses 1-22

DIVORCE AND REMARRIAGE

(vs.1-4)

Under law there were cases such as often arise similarly at any time. A man may marry a woman and afterwards be thoroughly dissatisfied with her. This is a warning to every young man and woman today that they take time to be sure that they marry only a partner they have proven trustworthy. For a believer, this partner should be only another believer, and both should be persuaded that it is the Lord's will for them to marry. Both would be thus preserved from the dangers of a breakup and divorce.

However, the sad fact is that a man often finds an excuse for putting away his wife. In such a case in Israel he was required to give her a certificate of divorce, thereby leaving her free to marry another (vs.1-3). but if she did marry another man and he also divorced her, or if he died, then the former husband must not take her back a wife (v.4). This would be most unseemly, for he had before rejected her for what he considered good reason. This is said to be "abomination before the Lord." If there had been no marriage to another, the case would be different. The law is firm and decided about this matter, though when the grace of God is known, it can lead to honest self-judgment on the part of those who are guilty, and can wonderfully overcome the evil by a gracious and righteous recovery. Believers too often put themselves into positions that are so compromising as to be outwardly hopeless; yet we must remember that there is no situation too difficult for the grace of God.

VARIOUS MISCELLANEOUS LAWS

(vs.5-22)

God's laws were not merely arbitrary exactions: rather they were for the greatest good of His people Israel, whether they realized it or not. Verse 5 shows God's consideration of a newly married couple. The man was not to go to war for a year, nor be charged with anything that would separate him from his wife. It is not likely that Israel would now act on this if they should be engaged in war, and certainly no other nation would excuse men for this reason.

The law of verse 6 also is one of consideration for people's need. It was allowed that one could take a pledge of another, who was indebted to the first. But the creditor must not take the upper or lower millstone of the other as a pledge, for this would deprive the debtor of the means of doing his normal work. Actually, this would hinder his ability to repay his debt, as the creditor should realize, but worse than this, it would be disobedience to God.

Consistently with this also, God's consideration of the people is seen in verse 7. One who kidnaped any of the children of Israel, mistreating him or selling him, was to be put to death. This is plain justice.

Verse 8 reminds Israel that the scourge of leprosy might break out among the people, and if so, let the people observe carefully the instructions of the priests, to whom God had given explicit commandments in Leviticus 13:1-59; Leviticus 14:1-57. This was also consideration for the whole nation, that the plague would not spread, but be contained. But Israel was to remember that the Lord Himself had inflicted Miriam with leprosy after Israel's coming out of Egypt (v.9). For Miriam initiated this, but it was rebellion against God's authority, which would work havoc among the people, but again God's care for His people is evident.

This is clear also in verses 10 and 11. If one loaned money to another, he must not enter the house of his debtor to take a pledge of repayment, but allow the debtor to bring this out to him. The reason is evident, for the creditor might see something in the house that he would prefer to have and demand this as a pledge. If the debtor would bring out a pledge that was fair, the creditor could of course refuse this and ask a more equitable pledge. But this law would protect the debtor from the tyranny of his creditor.

If the debtor was poor and had to give something that he required to keep him warm at night, then the creditor must give the pledge back to him for the night (vs.12-13). Again, this was proper consideration, and by this the friendship of another is gained.

A hired servant was not to be oppressed, whether an Israelite or a Gentile. If he were poor, his wages should be given him every day (vs.14-15) This is only right, for when the work is done it should be paid for. In the New Testament, masters are told to give their servants "what is just and fair" (Colossians 4:1)

It would be an unfair practice to put children to death for the guilt of their fathers, or to put the father to death because of the guilt of his children. David made a sad blunder in this matter when he allowed the Gibeonites to hang seven of the sons or grandsons of Saul because of Saul's previous sin against the Gibeonites (2 Samuel 21:1-9). Saul's house could have been punished in a different way than this, but this was opposed to God's Word. David did not enquire of the Lord before he made this mistake.

One may be in a position to take unfair advantage of a stranger or of a fatherless child. But such perversion of justice was sternly forbidden (v.17). Also forbidden was taking a widow's garment as a pledge for debt. For Israel was to remember that they too at one time were in a place of slavery in Egypt, reduced to poverty.

When one harvested his crops, if he left a sheaf in the field he was not to return for it, but leave it for either a stranger, a fatherless child, or a widow (v.19). This is added to the command in Leviticus 19:9-10 that the corners of the field were not to be reaped, but left for the poor. Ruth was blessed in taking advantage of this law in the field of Boaz (Ruth 2:2-23). A similar command was given as regards their beating their olive trees to make the olives fall. Some would be left if they did not beat it a second time, and they were to leave these for the stranger, the father less and the widow (v.20). Also, when grapes had been gathered, the gleanings were to be left (v.21). Thus God showed His gracious consideration of those who were oppressed, as Israel must remember they were in the land of Egypt. We too who are Christians must remember that we were once in the bondage of sin before being saved by the grace of the Lord Jesus. If so, we shall be concerned about the needs of those who have not been delivered from the poverty of their sinful state, and should gladly sacrifice something of our own prosperity for their sakes.

 


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Bibliography Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 24:4". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/lmg/deuteronomy-24.html. 1897-1910.

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