Deuteronomy 5 (English Standard Version)
The Ten Commandments
1And Moses summoned all Israel and said to them, “Hear, O Israel, the statutes and the rules that I speak in your hearing today, and you shall learn them and be careful to do them. 2 The LORD our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. 3 Not with our fathers did the LORD make this covenant, but with us, who are all of us here alive today. 4The LORD spoke with you face to face at the mountain, out of the midst of the fire, 5 while I stood between the LORD and you at that time, to declare to you the word of the LORD. For you were afraid because of the fire, and you did not go up into the mountain. He said:
6 “‘I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
7“‘You shall have no other gods before me.
We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things.
(This and the following explanations come from Martin Luther’s Small Catechism: the Ten Commandments.)
8“‘You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 9You shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 10but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.
11“‘You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.
We should fear and love God so that we do not curse, swear, use satanic arts, lie, or deceive by His name, but call upon it in every trouble, pray, praise, and give thanks.
12“‘Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the LORD your God commanded you. 13Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 14but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your female servant, or your ox or your donkey or any of your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you. 15 You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.
We should fear and love God so that we do not despise preaching and His Word, but hold it sacred and gladly hear and learn it.
16“‘Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may go well with you in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.
We should fear and love God so that we do not despise or anger our parents and other authorities, but honor them, serve and obey them, love and cherish them.
17 “‘You shall not murder.
We should fear and love God so that we do not hurt or harm our neighbor in his body, but help and support him in every physical need.
18 “‘And you shall not commit adultery.
We should fear and love God so that we lead a sexually pure and decent life in what we say and do, and husband and wife love and honor each other.
19“‘And you shall not steal.
We should fear and love God so that we do not take our neighbor’s money or possessions, or get them in any dishonest way, but help him to improve and protect his possessions and his income.
20“‘And you shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
We should fear and love God so that we do not tell lies about our neighbor, betray him, slander him, or hurt his reputation, but defend him, speak well of him, and explain everything in the kindest possible way.
21“‘And you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife. And you shall not desire your neighbor’s house, his field, or his male servant, or his female servant, his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.’
We should fear and love God so that we do not scheme to get our neighbor’s inheritance or house, or get it in a way which only appears right, but help and be of service to him in keeping it. We should fear and love God so that we do not entice or force away our neighbor’s wife, workers, or animals, but urge them to stay and do their duty.
22“These words the LORD spoke to all your assembly at the mountain out of the midst of the fire, the cloud, and the thick darkness, with a loud voice; and he added no more. And he wrote them on two tablets of stone and gave them to me.
from Praying in the Wesleyan Spirit,
by Paul Chilcote
Holy, Just, and Good God:
Nothing could be more important in our lives than to understand and obey your law, for it is the source of life for those who believe.
You gave us the law originally as a complete model of all truth and wove it into the very fabric of our lives. We rebelled against you, and in turning away from you we lost the true light of your law of love. You chose a particular people to whom you gave a more perfect knowledge of your rule of life and then, in Christ, established a new relationship with all your children so that we might have the law written on our hearts anew.
Your law is a perfect picture of you for us. It is so much more than ceremonies and traditions. Your law is nothing less than your divine virtue and wisdom in a visible form. It is like a projection of your eternal mind, a transcript of your nature that we can easily read for ourselves. Most importantly, the law is rooted in your love.
Your law, O God, is holy.
It is your wisdom from above: pure, chaste, clean, and holy. It uncovers our brokenness and brings us to our senses.
Your law, O God, is just.
It prescribes exactly what is best for everyone. It is the unchangeable rule of right and wrong, willed and created by you for the good of all.
Your law, O God, is good.
It was your goodness, your pure love, that led you to give the law to us as a gift. It is like a fountain, therefore, springing up, full of goodness and truth.
Lead us, good God, to know and use this gift in a proper way. Convince us of our sin through your law, so that we can be healed. Transform us through your law, so that we can truly live in Christ. Sustain us through your law, so that we can remain with you always. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.
HERE is a cute telling of the commandments — “The Perfect Ten” from the kids’ musical Angels Aware.
Number One, we’ve just begun, God should be first in your life.
Number Two, the idol rule, those graven images aren’t nice.
Number Three, God’s name should be never spoken in jest.
Number Four, the Sabbath’s for our worship and for rest.
Number Five, we all should strive to honor father and mother.
Number Six, don’t get your kicks from killing one another
Number Seven, life is heaven when you’re true to your mate.
Number Eight, don’t steal and break this rule for goodness sake.
Number Nine, don’t be the kind who goes around telling lies.
Number Ten, don’t covet when you see your neighbor’s house or wife.
That’s the list and God insists we stay away from these sins.
That is why we memorize commandments one through ten.
The Perfect Ten, the Perfect Ten,
They’re just as true as they were way back when
God gave the Perfect Ten, the Perfect Ten,
God gave the Perfect Ten.
23And as soon as you heard the voice out of the midst of the darkness, while the mountain was burning with fire, you came near to me, all the heads of your tribes, and your elders. 24And you said, ‘Behold, the LORD our God has shown us his glory and greatness, and we have heard his voice out of the midst of the fire. This day we have seen God speak with man, and man still live. 25Now therefore why should we die? For this great fire will consume us. If we hear the voice of the LORD our God any more, we shall die. 26 For who is there of all flesh, that has heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the midst of fire as we have, and has still lived? 27Go near and hear all that the LORD our God will say and speak to us all that the LORD our God will speak to you, and we will hear and do it.’
28“And the LORD heard your words, when you spoke to me. And the LORD said to me, ‘I have heard the words of this people, which they have spoken to you. They are right in all that they have spoken. 29 Oh that they had such a mind as this always, to fear me and to keep all my commandments, that it might go well with them and with their descendants forever!
30Go and say to them, “Return to your tents.” 31But you, stand here by me, and I will tell you the whole commandment and the statutes and the rules that you shall teach them, that they may do them in the land that I am giving them to possess.’
32You shall be careful therefore to do as the LORD your God has commanded you. You shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. 33 You shall walk in all the way that the LORD your God has commanded you, that you may live, and that it may go well with you, and that you may live long in the land that you shall possess.
“The Latest Decalogue”
by Arthur Hugh Clough (1819-1861)
Thou shalt have one God only; who
Would be at the expense of two?
No graven images may be
Worshipped, except the currency:
Swear not at all; for, for thy curse
Thine enemy is none the worse:
At church on Sunday to attend
Will serve to keep the world thy friend:
Honour thy parents, that is, all
From whom advancement may befall;
Thou shalt not kill; but need’st not strive
Officiously to keep alive:
Do not adultery commit;
Advantage rarely comes of it:
Thou shalt not steal; an empty feat,
When it’s so lucrative to cheat:
Bear not false witness; let the lie
Have time on its own wings to fly:
Thou shalt not covet, but tradition
Approves all forms of competition.
Books on the Ten Commandments:
The Joy of Faithful Obedience, the remarkable design of the Ten Commandments, and how each is designed to bring freedom into our lives, rather than bondage — by Bill Bright (founder of Campus Crusade for Christ), 2005.
Smoke on the Mountain: An Interpretation of the Ten Commandments, by Joy Davidman (she married C. S. Lewis), 1954.
Losing Moses on the Freeway: The Ten Commandments in America, by Chris Hedges, 2005.
Keeping the Ten Commandments, by J. I. Packer, 2007.
The Ten Commandments: The Significance of God’s Laws in Everyday Life, by syndicated radio psychologist Dr. Laura Schlessinger and Rabbi Stewart Vogel, 1998.
God’s Blueprint for Living: New Perspectives on the Ten Commandments, by David A. Seamands, 1988.
English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.