A Study of the Church: The People of God in Context – Day 37

Wilderness experience – the church (the people of God) – day 37

Deuteronomy 32:10 –
“The Lord shielded Israel in a desert land
in a howling wilderness waste;
the Lord shielded Israel
cared for Israel
guarded Israel
as the apple of the Lord’s eye.”

As the morning sun arose on this day, I began to write about wilderness and desert experiences, and was struck by this one verse from Deuteronomy 32. It is just one verse from what is known as “The Song of Moses” – which reflects upon Israel’s history presupposing the exile. The poetic prose is a revised and expanded prophetic lawsuit with witnesses, accusation, recitation of God’s loving actions, indictment, declaration of punishment, and a call for the divine council to praise God for God’s actions.

All this to say, the single verse that caught my eye this morning was verse 10 because of how it speaks of God’s tender care while Israel wandered in the wilderness for forty long years. Pulling this single verse from the entirety of the Song of Moses is a good example of why we must read scripture in context – in context of the surrounding verses, of the chapter and book in which it is written, of the entire Bible; and in context of the social, historical, cultural, and literary history in which it is written. To pull a single verse from scripture does not do justice to the writing or to my understanding of the writing. The writers and editors worked really hard on this piece. It has been edited and revised time and again before making it into the canon of biblical writings and teachings – Holy Scripture, and to not read the passage in context discounts the writers’ and editors’ hard work. So, I know that to really understand the passage, I must read it in context.

On this morning, as the sun rises, Deuteronomy 32:10 causes me to ponder the possibility of God’s tender care for even me when I am experiencing wilderness in my own life. If God so cared for Israel, then perhaps God also tenderly cares for even me. Perhaps, I, too, am the apple of the Lord’s eye.

And, if Israel, and if me, then you, too. May you also be tenderly cared for by the Lord, our God when you are in a wilderness experience, and may you too, know that you are indeed the apple of the Lord’s eye. Amen.


Rev. Susan Carter Wiggins