The main theme of this chapter is the song of Moses, the words of which he “spoke in the hearing of all the assembly of Israel” (31:30).
God as Israel’s Rock – Jehovah was the Rock of Israel’s salvation (32:15). Moses described Him like this: “He is the Rock, His work is perfect; for all His ways are justice, a God of truth and without injustice; righteous and upright is He” (32:4). What an awesome God He was and still is!
Israel’s corruption (32:5) – The people corrupted themselves, acting as a “perverse and crooked generation” (32:5). When people corrupt themselves, they have no right to point an accusing finger at others.
God as Israel’s Father (32:6) – Like earthly fathers expect of their children, God deserved to be respected by the Israelites (Malachi 1:6). Instead, this accusation against Israel was true: “. . . you are unmindful, and have forgotten the God who fathered you” (32:18).
Israel’s place before the Lord – “For the LORD’s portion is His people” (32:9). They were “the apple of His eye” (32:10). Yet, despite her elevated and blessed status, what did Jeshurun (Israel) do? The people became fat and kicked against God, forsook Him, and scorned Him as their Rock (32:15). The Israelites foolishly turned to idols, serving foreign gods and sacrificing to demons, all of which was an abomination to the Lord (32:16-21). Oh, yes, punishment would come from Him (32:22-26).
Israel: a nation void of counsel and understanding (32:28) – How sad that such was an accurate description of what Israel would be. There was no excuse! They had the law of God and were blessed to have God’s Spirit-guided prophets, but they refused to hearken to His word. At times, by choice they were uninterested and ignorant. Such is a path of certain spiritual doom.
Proper application of what God told Israel via Moses – “Set your hearts on all the words which I testify among you . . .” (32:46). God wants His word to be in our hearts (Colossians 3:16). He also wanted Israel to “be careful to observe” all that He commanded (32:46). God’s desire for Israel in this regard was “not a futile thing,” but it was Israel’s life (32:47).
Moses would see Canaan, but not enter it (32:48- 52) – From Mount Nebo, located east of the Jordan River, Moses would be allowed to see the land which God had promised. God spoke clearly: when Moses transgressed in the wilderness, he failed to hallow Jehovah before Israel. A great reminder for each one of us, the result was devastating for Moses personally.
— Roger D. Campbell