Deuteronomy Bible Study | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5:1-15 | 5:16-33 | 6:1-7 | 6:8-25 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 19 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 26 | 27 | 28:1-24 | 28:25-68 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 |

This small group Deuteronomy Bible study guide contains commentary, discussion questions, cross-references, and application to encourage life change. Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.

Deuteronomy 1 Bible Study Commentary And Questions – Summary of Wilderness Years


I. The setting for Deuteronomy (1-5)
II. The command to take possession of the land (6-8)
III. Leaders appointed to help Moses (9-18)
IV. The people disobey and refuse to take possession (19-33)
V. The people disobey and try to take possession (34-46)

I. The setting for Deuteronomy (1-5)

Discussion Questions

• What is the book of Deuteronomy about?
• What would you say is its theme?
• When do the events of Deuteronomy occur?
• Who is the author?
• Who is the audience?
• Why was it important for them to review their history (chapters 1-4) before entering the land?
• What would you say to someone who says that Deuteronomy is an Old Testament book about the law written to the Jews and is not relevant to us today?

Introduction to Deuteronomy

Deuteronomy 1:1 identifies the contents of the book of Deuteronomy as “the words that Moses spoke to all Israel.” The book of Deuteronomy is essentially a collection of sermons that Moses preached to the nation. He is also widely recognized as the author of the book of Deuteronomy by Jewish tradition as well as by New Testament writers (Matthew 19:7).

The book of Deuteronomy is the last of the five books that make up the Pentateuch.

The opening verses identify the location for the delivery of these sermons as being “beyond the Jordan” and in the region across from Jericho. They were still in the wilderness. It was the “fortieth year” since the exodus (1:3). Therefore, the forty years of wilderness wanderings were almost up, and the nation was preparing to enter the Promised Land God had prepared for them and take possession.

It was a crucial time of transition for the nation. The first attempt to enter the Promised Land had not gone well. Deuteronomy 1:2 tells us that in their forty years in the wilderness, they traveled what should have been an eleven-day journey. Because of their lack of faith and obedience, forty years were spent accomplishing what should have been accomplished in only eleven days. Hopefully, we do not reach the end of our lives and realize that much of it has been wasted because of disobedience.

Now it was a new era and a new opportunity. The previous generation, with the exception of Moses, Joshua, and Caleb, had died out. It was the children who had left Egypt who were now adults.

Deuteronomy is often referred to as the Law. At least twelve references are made within the book to “all Israel.” As they were about to enter the land, Moses reviewed the stipulations of God’s covenant with His people. Thus, Deuteronomy contains summaries of many of the laws given by God at Mt. Sinai, including the ten commandments. Moses not only gives reminders of the laws but specific examples of their practical application. The Ten Commandments are also reviewed.

Moses also reviews the history of the nation post-Exodus, their failings to fulfill their side of the covenant, and God’s faithfulness (sometimes shown through discipline) throughout.

Before entering the Promised Land, Moses challenged his people to be faithful to fulfill their covenant obligations. Among the many important passages, Deuteronomy 6, 28, and 29 stand out. Deuteronomy 6 contains a summary of what the law means, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” It also contains a key confession of faith for Jews still used today.

Deuteronomy 6:4 – Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.

In chapters 28 and 29, Moses tells the people what results to expect for obedience (blessing) and disobedience (cursing).

While some people shy away from the Old Testament law, there are many practical lessons we can find within that can transform our relationship with the Lord today.

II. The command to take possession of the land (6-8)

Discussion Questions

• What command did God give to the people forty years before?
• Why was the land often called “The Promised Land?”
• How could they be assured that they would have victory?


Genesis 12:7 – Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.”

Genesis 26:3-4 – Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you and will bless you, for to you and to your offspring I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath that I swore to Abraham your father. I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and will give to your offspring all these lands.

Genesis 35:12 – The land that I gave to Abraham and Isaac I will give to you, and I will give the land to your offspring after you.”

Verse by Verse Commentary

1. Go in and take possession of the land – This command was given by God to the Israelites forty years before. He told them to leave the vicinity of Horeb and go up to the land. Though it was promised to them, they had to take action in order to receive it. The word “go” indicates that they needed to take action. God had prepared the land for them and, at the same time, required a response from them.

Application – The same is often true for us today. God does not want us to be passive sitters but active doers. What do you need to “go” do for the Lord?

2. I have set the land before you; the Lord swore it to your fathers – In one sense, it was a monumental task before them. The nations in the land were strong, numerous, and well-entrenched. On the other hand, it was an easy mission. The Lord was with them. He had promised this land to their ancestors hundreds of years before and would not forget that promise. With the Lord on their side, victory was certain.

We are reminded of the example of David and Goliath. Goliath mocked David for coming at him with “sticks and stones.” From the world’s perspective, David’s defeat seemed certain. What hope had a poorly armed lad against an experienced and mighty giant!

Yet it was no contest. David was assured victory because He came with the name of the Lord of hosts (1 Samuel 17).

Application – Trust in the Lord while faithfully obeying His instructions, knowing that “not one word has failed of all the good things that the Lord your God promised.” (Joshua 23:14)

III. Leaders appointed to help Moses (9-18)

Discussion Questions

• Who counseled Moses to appoint leaders to help him (Exodus 18)?
• What counsel did he offer Moses and why (Exodus 18)?
• Why did Moses need help?
• What does this teach us about team and church today?
• What types of qualities did they look for in leaders?
• What principles about leadership can we learn from this passage?
• With what standard were the new leaders to judge (verses 16-17)?


Proverbs 19:20 – Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.

Proverbs 12:15 – The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.

Titus 1:6-9 – If anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.

1 Corinthians 3:9 – For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.

Verse by Verse Commentary

1. I am not able to bear you by myself – Moses recounted how the leadership structure of the nation was formed. After coming out of Egypt, the nation, in essence, had one-man political leadership, Moses. Moses was the executive and judicial branch all in one. From morning until night, he judged the people. They formed long lines through the camp to bring their questions and disputes to him for a decision.

It was too much work for one man to handle. Moses was getting worn out and overloaded. At the same time, the people were wearied because of the wait time to receive a hearing. The situation was unsustainable.

It took an outsider to bring this problem to light and offer a solution. Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, came to the camp for a visit and immediately observed the problem. He then proceeded to give wise counsel to Moses, suggesting that elders be appointed over the people who would help oversee the people and judge their disputes.

2. Working as a team –

A. The problem.

Jethro clearly saw the problem.

The problem is that Moses was trying to do all the work himself. He was a great leader. He met God face to face. But no human can handle the duties of overseeing 2 million people by himself!

The same problem that Jethro saw occurs in many churches today. Many churches feature one dominant pastor who is in charge. He makes the decisions. And he does most of the work. This type of church leadership is very unhealthy for the church and the leader, just as it was for Moses. Here are some of the problems with this:

• Burn out
• Resentment – Why do I have to do all the work?
• Pride/ego – It can cause the head pastor to become prideful.
• Blind spots – When a single person makes decisions, he has blind spots and may not see the whole picture.
• Passivity – The congregation then has an excuse to be passive.
• Lack of growth and training – The saints in the church will not have chances to learn by serving and leading.
• No reproduction – When something happens to the leader, there are no new leaders to take his place because they haven’t been equipped.

A single-leader model was unhealthy for Israel and it is unhealthy for the church.

B. The plan

Jethro’s plan is simple: get help! Moses would be in charge of representing the people to God and receiving from God the laws for His people. And wise, mature men would be appointed as leaders. Every group would have an elder. Groups of ten, fifty, one hundred, and one thousand were formed. Leaders were set over each group and judged the people. If the case was too difficult, they would report it to the next leader up and so on. Rarely would there be a complex case that would make it up to Moses, and he, in turn, could go to God for the answer.

3. Principles of leadership –

A. Good leaders delegate authority. Or we can say it another way. Good leaders equip and train more workers.

Ephesians 4:11-13 – And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.

Look carefully at this text and note who is doing the work of the ministry. The leaders are not doing it themselves. Rather the saints are doing the work. Everyone is helping. The leaders’ job is to equip the saints.

A leader should not try to hold on to his authority. A leader should not try to make all decisions himself. Instead, a leader should be constantly trying to train up replacements, working himself out of a job.

Application – Leaders, don’t try to do everything yourselves. This applies to church and family leaders. Give your kids jobs and patiently help them learn how to do them.

Many leaders try to do everything themselves. Perhaps they think they can do this task better and it is more work to teach someone else how to do it. Short term, that is probably true. But a parent or leader who tries to do everything himself will burn out in the long term. On the front side, it takes more effort to train someone else, but in the long term, it is necessary. Take the long-term perspective.

Jesus was the most gifted preacher and evangelist ever. And yet He didn’t do everything Himself. He trained up His disciples and sent them ou