Dave Burnette's Commentary

Deuteronomy Chapter 20

Written By: God through Inspiration
Penned By: Moses 
Date Penned: (1407 BC)
Overview: To Remind and Rededicate Israel to the Lord (c 1-34)
Theme: Principles for Godly Living (c 5-28)
Message: Instructions for Soldiers (v 1-20)

Deuteronomy 20 Commentary

(20:1-4) Facing Opposition - Just like the Israelites, we sometimes face overwhelming opposition. At school, at work, or even at home, we can feel outnumbered and helpless. God bolstered the Israelites' confidence by reminding them that he was always with them and that he would save them from the potential dangers they faced. We, too, can feel secure when we consider that God is able to overcome even the most difficult odds,

(20:13-18) Following Instructions - "Smite... with the edge of the sword" means to kill. How could a merciful and just God order the destruction of entire population centers? He did this to protect his people from idol worship, which was certain to bring ruin to Israel. In fact, because Israel did not end up completely destroying these evil people as God commanded, the Israelites were constantly oppressed by them and experienced greater bloodshed and destruction than they would have if they had followed God's instructions in the first place (also see 7:2-6).

(20:19-20) Instructions for Soldiers - To keep from destroying the land, the Israelites were warned against needlessly cutting down valuable, fruit-bearing trees. These were a food source provided by God and would take years to replace if destroyed. Though the soldiers wore to defeat the cities at war with them, they were not to ravage the land. Israel remained a fruitful, fertile land until medieval times, when the Crusaders destroyed most of the trees and thus prevented the land from replenishing itself for a long time. This is the very thing God warned against. In our zeal to accomplish something. We must be careful to avoid needlessly destroying or wasting valuable resources that could be life-giving to others.

(20:20) Evidence of Canaan - Archaeologists have uncovered the remnants of many well-fortified cities in Canaan. Some had tall walls (25 to 30 feet high), ramparts, moats, and towers. Accustomed to fighting on the open plains, the Israelites were going to have to learn new battle strategies to conquer these massive fortresses.



Dave Burnette's Life Application

Don't Forget the Lord

Each day we walk through the Bible chapter by chapter making an application of our text to help us grow in the Lord. Many applications can be made from each day's text. Today we continue in the book of Deuteronomy with Chapter 20 and we see Moses finishing this section of the Laws for ruling the nation. This is the 4th part of Moses instruction as he is in the second giving of the law to this new generation of Israel. Today Moses gives us the Instructions for Soldiers. In this text we are reminded that the Lord fights our battles for us and that we are instructed to follow His instruction 100%. In our flesh though we have a problem. When we face the enemy we fail to trust the Lord to continue in the battle and when the Lord delivers us we tend to forget the instructions of the Lord in following out His Plan. We face this problem continually in our lives. It reminds me of financial challenges I have faced and when it looked hopeless. I have almost quit before the Lord showed up and gave me victory. Other times I have been given financial victory and forgot to tithe and follow His instruction. I am glad that the Lord doesn't forget me like I forgot Him. How about you? Do you forget the Lord in areas of your life? Let us learn from today's text and not forget the Lord. 


Deuteronomy 20

Deuteronomy 20

 1When thou goest out to battle against thine enemies, and seest horses, and chariots, and a people more than thou, be not afraid of them: for the LORD thy God is with thee, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.

 2And it shall be, when ye are come nigh unto the battle, that the priest shall approach and speak unto the people,

 3And shall say unto them, Hear, O Israel, ye approach this day unto battle against your enemies: let not your hearts faint, fear not, and do not tremble, neither be ye terrified because of them;

 4For the LORD your God is he that goeth with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.

 5And the officers shall speak unto the people, saying, What man is there that hath built a new house, and hath not dedicated it? let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man dedicate it.

 6And what man is he that hath planted a vineyard, and hath not yet eaten of it? let him also go and return unto his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man eat of it.

 7And what man is there that hath betrothed a wife, and hath not taken her? let him go and return unto his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man take her.

 8And the officers shall speak further unto the people, and they shall say, What man is there that is fearful and fainthearted? let him go and return unto his house, lest his brethren's heart faint as well as his heart.

 9And it shall be, when the officers have made an end of speaking unto the people that they shall make captains of the armies to lead the people.

 10When thou comest nigh unto a city to fight against it, then proclaim peace unto it.

 11And it shall be, if it make thee answer of peace, and open unto thee, then it shall be, that all the people that is found therein shall be tributaries unto thee, and they shall serve thee.

 12And if it will make no peace with thee, but will make war against thee, then thou shalt besiege it:

 13And when the LORD thy God hath delivered it into thine hands, thou shalt smite every male thereof with the edge of the sword:

 14But the women, and the little ones, and the cattle, and all that is in the city, even all the spoil thereof, shalt thou take unto thyself; and thou shalt eat the spoil of thine enemies, which the LORD thy God hath given thee.

 15Thus shalt thou do unto all the cities which are very far off from thee, which are not of the cities of these nations.

 16But of the cities of these people, which the LORD thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth:

 17But thou shalt utterly destroy them; namely, the Hittites, and the Amorites, the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee:

 18That they teach you not to do after all their abominations, which they have done unto their gods; so should ye sin against the LORD your God.

 19When thou shalt besiege a city a long time, in making war against it to take it, thou shalt not destroy the trees thereof by forcing an axe against them: for thou mayest eat of them, and thou shalt not cut them down (for the tree of the field is man's life) to employ them in the siege:

 20Only the trees which thou knowest that they be not trees for meat, thou shalt destroy and cut them down; and thou shalt build bulwarks against the city that maketh war with thee, until it be subdued.