Reflecting on Deuteronomy 32 3-6, 10-14, 18

What actually accounts for people forgetting what God has done for them in the past, and then leaving off pursuing a present relationship with God? This seems to be the central warning being made in the “song” we are studying this week, and if we think about it, we will probably see that the answer may be less obvious, or at least a little more involved, than we think. If we are brave enough, we may want to look at what form it takes in our own world – or even, in our own lives.

We are taking a closer look at select verses from the long poem in Deuteronomy 32:1-43, which makes up most of the Torah portion of Ha’azinu. Some notes on the text are here. Here are a few additional questions we might want to reflect on, or discuss in class:

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The text is poetry. What difference does that make? If we think about some of the reasons a poem, specifically, would be included here – what ideas does that give us about the meaning of the text? [It might help us to think of other places in the Bible that use poetry, such as Psalms, the prophets, Lamentations …]

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The poem uses a number of images for God: the Rock, the eagle, the rescuer in the desert, the mother giving birth. Are these familiar images to us? How do these images affect our own picture of God? Why is that, do we think?

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What is the central problem of the poem, or the complaint against the people? Where do we find that in the text? What’s the warning in the poem? What’s the appropriate action to take in the light of that warning, do we think?

[More personal] What’s the lesson in that for us? What behavior or behaviors would that imply? Would those behaviors involve any kind of change or changes for us? What changes?

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[A lot more personal] We might want to ask ourselves – what would we do if we felt someone, like a child of ours, had turned their back on us? Or, what have we done, if we’ve experienced a situation like that?

In light of that, how does this poem influence our feelings and thoughts about God? Why is that? How does it seem to influence our relationship with God? Why is that, do we think?

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two young women conversing over a picket fence

Image: “Conversation,” Camille Pissaro, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

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