The message of this chapter includes instructions for the Israelites concerning cancelling debts every seven years, taking care of the poor among them, releasing servants, and firstborn animals.

God’s renewed promise to bless Israel – “For the LORD your God will bless you just as He promised you” (15:6). Because Jehovah is “a God of truth” (32:4), His message is always trustworthy. In this instance, His promise to bless them once again was conditional upon their obedience to Him (15:5).

The Lord called on His people to be generous in their dealings with the poor among them – It may surprise some Bible students to hear this portion of God’s message to Israel: “For the poor will never cease from the land” (15:11). That sounds similar to Jesus’ statement that there always would be poor people to whom His disciples can do good (Mark 14:7). God’s clear command for Israel was, “. . . you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother” (15:7). Hear this reminder: “Whoever shuts his ears to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be heard” (Proverbs 18:13). When the Jews assisted the poor, they were to do so without grief in their heart (15:10). That is, they were to help willingly and not grudgingly (2 Cor. 9:7).

“The LORD’s release” (15:2) and freedom for servants (15:12-18) – God called for the release of debts every seven years (15:1,2). He also called for the release of those Israelites who had been a servant to another Israelite for six years (15:12). When the bondservant was sent out, God wanted the master to share of his own possessions with him: “. . . you shall not let him go away empty-handed” (15:13). How much should they supply the out-going servant? “You shall supply him liberally . . . From what the LORD has blessed you with, you shall give to him” (15:14). God wanted His people to develop a sharing disposition, realizing that they had been blessed by the Lord and it was proper for them to share their God-given blessings with others. Christians also are taught to give with liberality (Romans 12:8).

Firstborn male animals (15:19-21) – Each of the firstborn from the flock or herd was to be devoted/ sanctified to the Lord (15:19). Such animals were to be sacrificed to God, and a portion of it was to be eaten by the givers (15:19,20). Two quick observations: (1) Giving this animal to Jehovah was above and beyond the normal tithe (ten per cent) and (2) the Lord would not accept animals with any type of defect. When it came to Israel’s sacrifices and worship in general, God wanted only their best (cf. Malachi 1:6-8,14).

— Roger D. Campbell