What does Deuteronomy 31:19 really mean?

Deuteronomy 31:19 is about the importance of passing on God’s teachings to future generations to ensure the continuity of faith and righteous living.

19 “Now therefore write this song and teach it to the people of Israel. Put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for me against the people of Israel.


Setting the Scene for Deuteronomy 31:19

The scene in Deuteronomy 31:19 takes place in the wilderness of Moab, where the Israelites are encamped as they prepare to enter the Promised Land. Moses, the revered leader of the Israelites, is addressing the people before his impending death. The atmosphere is charged with emotion as Moses imparts his final words of wisdom and guidance to the Israelites, knowing that he will not be accompanying them into the land flowing with milk and honey.

Surrounded by the vast expanse of the desert, the Israelites gather around Moses, their faces reflecting a mixture of anticipation and apprehension for the journey ahead. Joshua, the chosen successor to Moses, stands by his side, ready to lead the people across the Jordan River into Canaan. The air is filled with a sense of solemnity and reverence as Moses entrusts the sacred words of the law to the Levitical priests, urging the people to remain faithful to the covenant with God.

As the sun sets over the rugged terrain of Moab, the flickering light casts long shadows on the faces of the Israelites, highlighting the gravity of the moment. The sound of the wind rustling through the desert brush serves as a poignant backdrop to Moses’ words, echoing the solemnity of the occasion. In this pivotal moment in their history, the Israelites stand on the cusp of a new chapter, poised to fulfill the promise of God’s inheritance.

What is Deuteronomy 31:19 about?

We see a powerful depiction of the relationship between God and His people in this verse. The covenant God made with Israel symbolizes His unwavering love and commitment to them, even though He knows they will disobey Him in the future. Despite knowing that His people will fall short and stray from His teachings, God remains faithful and steadfast in His promise to always be there for them. This verse serves as a reminder of God’s unconditional love and mercy towards His children, even in the face of their shortcomings.

Have you ever considered the depth of God’s love and faithfulness towards us, even when we go astray? This verse reflects the enduring nature of God’s covenant with His people, showcasing His ability to see beyond our faults and forgive us with grace. It prompts us to reflect on our own relationship with God and the ways in which we can strive to be more faithful in return. We also seek to honor our covenant with God by staying true to His teachings and relying on His grace in times of need, just as He remains committed to His promises despite our disobedience.

Understanding what Deuteronomy 31:19 really means

  • Introduction to the Verse
  • In the book of Deuteronomy, we find Moses imparting his final instructions to the Israelites as they stand on the brink of entering the Promised Land. Among these instructions, God commands Moses to write down a song and teach it to the people. This song is not merely for entertainment but serves a profound purpose in the spiritual journey of the Israelites.
  • The purpose of this song is twofold: first, it acts as a witness against the Israelites, reminding them of their covenant with God and the consequences of straying from His commandments. Secondly, it serves as a means of preserving God’s words for future generations, ensuring that the message endures through time.

  • Key Phrases and Their Meanings

  • “Write ye this song”: This directive underscores the significance of documenting God’s teachings. Writing down the song ensures that it is not lost or distorted over time, providing a tangible record of God’s instructions.
  • “Teach it the children of Israel”: By instructing the Israelites to learn the song, God emphasizes the importance of passing down spiritual truths from one generation to the next, fostering continuity in faith and practice.
  • “Put it in their mouths”: This phrase signifies the necessity of internalizing God’s word, making it a fundamental part of daily life and conversation, guiding their thoughts and actions.
  • “That this song may be a witness for me”: The song stands as a testimony to God’s faithfulness and the people’s commitment to their covenant, serving as a constant reminder of their relationship with the Almighty.

  • Related Biblical Passages

  • Psalm 119:11: “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” This verse highlights the importance of treasuring God’s word in our hearts to steer us away from sin.
  • Colossians 3:16: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.” Here, the role of songs and hymns in imparting spiritual wisdom and guidance is emphasized.
  • Joshua 1:8: “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night.” This verse stresses the continual engagement with God’s word for spiritual growth and guidance.

  • Relevance to People Today

  • Preservation of Faith: Just as the Israelites were tasked with remembering and passing on God’s teachings, contemporary believers are called to uphold and transmit their faith to future generations.
  • Cultural Memory: Songs and narratives play a vital role in embedding essential truths within a community’s collective memory, shaping their identity and values.
  • Accountability: The song in Deuteronomy serves as a reminder of the believers’ commitments and the repercussions of straying from their faith, holding them accountable to their covenant with God.

  • Anecdote for Illustration

  • Consider a family tradition where a grandmother imparts a cherished song to her grandchildren, recounting the family’s history, trials, and victories. This song becomes a symbol of their shared heritage, reinforcing their unity and values. Similarly, the song in Deuteronomy serves to recount the Israelites’ journey with God, preserving their covenant and identity.

  • Conclusion

  • Deuteronomy 31:19 underscores the importance of documenting, teaching, and internalizing God’s word. It stands as a testament to our covenant with God and the duty to transmit our faith to future generations. By upholding these principles, we ensure that God’s truths remain vibrant and influential in our lives and communities, guiding us in our spiritual walk.

What is the significance of choosing life or death?

Choosing between life and death in the context of Deuteronomy 31:19 is a pivotal decision that impacts one’s faith and relationship with God. Opting for life signifies a commitment to following God’s commandments, living a righteous life, and honoring the covenant with God. It represents choosing blessings, prosperity, and a closer walk with God. On the other hand, choosing death signifies a path of disobedience, sin, and spiritual separation from God. It symbolizes the consequences of turning away from God’s guidance and rejecting His ways.

The significance of making this choice is highlighted throughout the Bible, emphasizing the importance of free will and the consequences of our decisions. Life and death in this context are not merely physical outcomes but rather spiritual and eternal realities. Choosing life aligns one’s heart and actions with God’s will, leading to fulfillment and blessings, while choosing death represents a rejection of God’s ways and the spiritual consequences that follow. One’s faith, trust, and obedience to God ultimately reflect the choice between life and death.


Embrace the divine wisdom of God in your soul, let it light up your path through the twists and turns of life. Allow His truth to fuel your actions, showing dedication and loyalty in every aspect of your existence. Will you take up the challenge and embody His teachings in your journey?