What to Look for in the Bible Book of Deuteronomy

What to Look for in the Bible Book of Deuteronomy

Recently I read the book of Deuteronomy. Deuteronomy is mostly Moses speaking to the Israelites just before they go into the Promised Land. He is recapping what has happened since God brought them out of slavery in Egypt and refreshing their memory about the laws that God has given them to obey. I classify Deuteronomy as a hard part because so much of the content is a repeat of the law which, if you are reading straight through the Bible, you have just read in Leviticus.

As I read Deuteronomy this time, I looked for keywords and themes to help focus my reading and to help me understand the Bible book. I thought the list would be helpful for you, too, for the next time you read through Deuteronomy.

Here is what to look for in the book of Deuteronomy:

The heart.

We usually think of the law being all about our outward actions. But even when God gave the law, His main concern was the heart. Deuteronomy 10:16 says, “Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer.” Look for other verses about the heart as well.


The Israelites continually complained that God forgot about them and never did anything to help them out. Much of Moses’s speech is repetitious because he is reminding the people of what God did for them. Look for the word “remember.” If we are honest, we forget what God has done for us as well. While you are reading Deuteronomy, keep a list of what God has done for you in your past. Then, when you are feeling forgotten, you can review the list and remember God’s love and attention for you.

The fighter.

In Deuteronomy, God’s people are on the verge of fighting for possession of the land that God promised them. The Israelites are the ones brandishing the weapons, but God is the one who is ensuring the victories. Look for Moses telling God’s people that He is the one who is fighting for them. Especially look in chapters 1, 3, and 20. Although these direct promises are for the nation of Israel specifically for this time in history, we know from other parts of Scripture that God works directly in the lives of believers today. Paul says in Philippians 2:12-13, Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”


Moses makes it clear that God expects His people to obey Him. Hence the review of the law and the reiteration of the blessings of obedience and consequences of disobedience. Look for the words hear, listen, and obey. We are not under the law today, but we are still expected to obey God’s directions and instructions. Obedience not only gives glory to God, but gives us peace. Elisabeth Elliot, author, speaker, and missionary, said “He is worthy of my trust and obedience. I will find rest nowhere but in His holy will, a will that is unspeakably beyond my largest notions of what He is up to.”

Hopefully, this list helps you the next time you read Deuteronomy. What else have you found to be helpful in Deuteronomy? What hard parts have you found in Deuteronomy? Comment below!




Rachel Schmoyer is a pastor's wife and mom of four. Her writing has been featured in Light From the Word, The Secret Place, The Quiet Hour, and Thriving Family Magazine.

6 replies to What to Look for in the Bible Book of Deuteronomy

  1. Good morning Rachel. Thanks for sharing this! I really like your approach to Deuteronomy, and I agree that it does help to look for keywords and themes to help us focus and understand it. What I like about Deuteronomy is the running theme of being exclusively loyal to God. A few things that stick out to me are the reminders to “fear the LORD your God” (6:2) and that “The LORD our God, the LORD is one” (6:4). Throughout the book, Moses continually reminds the Israelite’s to fear God, and I think his teaching here is reflective of Proverbs 9:10 “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”. I think he’s teaching them to not only fear God’s judgement (which is serious and they most certainly should), but maybe even more importantly, to have a relationship with God and to fear Him with a sense of awe and respect for His majesty, and to honor, love, obey, worship, exalt and trust Him as their Father because He is their one true source of security and love. This helped me understand that the Lord requires me to revere Him, and by my doing so it gives me knowledge, makes me wise, keeps me from evil, gives me divine protection, leads me to life, and prolongs my life. It’s interesting that Moses first reminds Israel to “fear the LORD your God” (6:2) before he reminds them of the central confession of their faith “The LORD our God, the LORD is one” (6:4), and then he goes on to give them the greatest commandment “You shall love the LORD your God…” This helped me understand that in order for me to have love for and to love God, I must first recognize Him and revere Him for the totality of who He is. I think it’s God’s grace that gives me the faith and the ability to do this and also to love and serve Him with all my heart, soul, and might.

    Hard parts that I’ve found in Deuteronomy is the law. It’s complicated and difficult to understand. However, I do see throughout the book how it points to Jesus Christ as He is later revealed in the New Testament, and this helps me see that we can do nothing to please God, not even keep the law, without the righteousness of Christ our Redeemer covering us.

    • I like that. Fear God. I’ve been reading through Proverbs lately and that is a big theme there, too. It would be interesting to study that concept through all of Scripture.

    • Thank you!

    • Very interesting…I read through once, but I want to read it again and I’ll comment on it on your site. Thanks!

Comments are closed.