Deuteronomy 15:8 but you shall freely open your hand to him, and shall generously lend him sufficient for his need in whatever he lacks. 9“Beware that there is no base thought in your heart, saying, ‘The seventh year, the year of remission, is near,’ and your eye is hostile toward your poor brother, and you give him nothing; then he may cry to the LORD against you, and it will be a sin in you. 10“You shall generously give to him, and your heart shall not be grieved when you give to him, because for this thing the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in all your undertakings.
All debts were to be forgiven after seven years, and here the Lord is telling the people to be careful in exercising any loans to the poor. The closer to the forgiveness of the debt, the more the lender would stand to lose. So the Lord is showing that the spirit in which they acted would just as important as the action itself, and that this should not cloud their judgment and generosity. And so it applies to our actions today; our hearts are indeed more important than our actions.
Clean and Unclean Animals
1“You are the sons of the LORD your God; you shall not cut yourselves nor shave your forehead for the sake of the dead. 2“For you are a holy people to the LORD your God, and the LORD has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.
3“You shall not eat any detestable thing. 4“These are the animals which you may eat: the ox, the sheep, the goat, 5the deer, the gazelle, the roebuck, the wild goat, the ibex, the antelope and the mountain sheep. 6“Any animal that divides the hoof and has the hoof split in two and chews the cud, among the animals, that you may eat. 7“Nevertheless, you are not to eat of these among those which chew the cud, or among those that divide the hoof in two: the camel and the rabbit and the shaphan, for though they chew the cud, they do not divide the hoof; they are unclean for you. 8“The pig, because it divides the hoof but does not chew the cud, it is unclean for you. You shall not eat any of their flesh nor touch their carcasses.
9“These you may eat of all that are in water: anything that has fins and scales you may eat, 10but anything that does not have fins and scales you shall not eat; it is unclean for you.
11“You may eat any clean bird. 12“But these are the ones which you shall not eat: the eagle and the vulture and the buzzard, 13and the red kite, the falcon, and the kite in their kinds, 14and every raven in its kind, 15and the ostrich, the owl, the sea gull, and the hawk in their kinds, 16the little owl, the great owl, the white owl, 17the pelican, the carrion vulture, the cormorant, 18the stork, and the heron in their kinds, and the hoopoe and the bat. 19“And all the teeming life with wings are unclean to you; they shall not be eaten. 20“You may eat any clean bird.
21“You shall not eat anything which dies of itself. You may give it to the alien who is in your town, so that he may eat it, or you may sell it to a foreigner, for you are a holy people to the LORD your God. You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.
22“You shall surely tithe all the produce from what you sow, which comes out of the field every year. 23“You shall eat in the presence of the LORD your God, at the place where He chooses to establish His name, the tithe of your grain, your new wine, your oil, and the firstborn of your herd and your flock, so that you may learn to fear the LORD your God always. 24“If the distance is so great for you that you are not able to bring the tithe, since the place where the LORD your God chooses to set His name is too far away from you when the LORD your God blesses you, 25then you shall exchange it for money, and bind the money in your hand and go to the place which the LORD your God chooses. 26“You may spend the money for whatever your heart desires: for oxen, or sheep, or wine, or strong drink, or whatever your heart desires; and there you shall eat in the presence of the LORD your God and rejoice, you and your household. 27“Also you shall not neglect the Levite who is in your town, for he has no portion or inheritance among you.
28“At the end of every third year you shall bring out all the tithe of your produce in that year, and shall deposit it in your town. 29“The Levite, because he has no portion or inheritance among you, and the alien, the orphan and the widow who are in your town, shall come and eat and be satisfied, in order that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do.
The Sabbatic Year
1“At the end of every seven years you shall grant a remission of debts. 2“This is the manner of remission: every creditor shall release what he has loaned to his neighbor; he shall not exact it of his neighbor and his brother, because the LORD’S remission has been proclaimed. 3“From a foreigner you may exact it, but your hand shall release whatever of yours is with your brother. 4“However, there will be no poor among you, since the LORD will surely bless you in the land which the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance to possess, 5if only you listen obediently to the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all this commandment which I am commanding you today. 6“For the LORD your God will bless you as He has promised you, and you will lend to many nations, but you will not borrow; and you will rule over many nations, but they will not rule over you.
7“If there is a poor man with you, one of your brothers, in any of your towns in your land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart, nor close your hand from your poor brother; 8but you shall freely open your hand to him, and shall generously lend him sufficient for his need in whatever he lacks. 9“Beware that there is no base thought in your heart, saying, ‘The seventh year, the year of remission, is near,’ and your eye is hostile toward your poor brother, and you give him nothing; then he may cry to the LORD against you, and it will be a sin in you. 10“You shall generously give to him, and your heart shall not be grieved when you give to him, because for this thing the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in all your undertakings. 11“For the poor will never cease to be in the land; therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall freely open your hand to your brother, to your needy and poor in your land.’
12“If your kinsman, a Hebrew man or woman, is sold to you, then he shall serve you six years, but in the seventh year you shall set him free. 13“When you set him free, you shall not send him away empty-handed. 14“You shall furnish him liberally from your flock and from your threshing floor and from your wine vat; you shall give to him as the LORD your God has blessed you. 15“You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God redeemed you; therefore I command you this today. 16“It shall come about if he says to you, ‘I will not go out from you,’ because he loves you and your household, since he fares well with you; 17then you shall take an awl and pierce it through his ear into the door, and he shall be your servant forever. Also you shall do likewise to your maidservant.
18“It shall not seem hard to you when you set him free, for he has given you six years with double the service of a hired man; so the LORD your God will bless you in whatever you do.
19“You shall consecrate to the LORD your God all the firstborn males that are born of your herd and of your flock; you shall not work with the firstborn of your herd, nor shear the firstborn of your flock. 20“You and your household shall eat it every year before the LORD your God in the place which the LORD chooses. 21“But if it has any defect, such as lameness or blindness, or any serious defect, you shall not sacrifice it to the LORD your God. 22“You shall eat it within your gates; the unclean and the clean alike may eat it, as a gazelle or a deer. 23“Only you shall not eat its blood; you are to pour it out on the ground like water.
The Feasts of Passover, of Weeks, and of Booths
1“Observe the month of Abib and celebrate the Passover to the LORD your God, for in the month of Abib the LORD your God brought you out of Egypt by night. 2“You shall sacrifice the Passover to the LORD your God from the flock and the herd, in the place where the LORD chooses to establish His name. 3“You shall not eat leavened bread with it; seven days you shall eat with it unleavened bread, the bread of affliction (for you came out of the land of Egypt in haste), so that you may remember all the days of your life the day when you came out of the land of Egypt. 4“For seven days no leaven shall be seen with you in all your territory, and none of the flesh which you sacrifice on the evening of the first day shall remain overnight until morning. 5“You are not allowed to sacrifice the Passover in any of your towns which the LORD your God is giving you; 6but at the place where the LORD your God chooses to establish His name, you shall sacrifice the Passover in the evening at sunset, at the time that you came out of Egypt. 7“You shall cook and eat it in the place which the LORD your God chooses. In the morning you are to return to your tents. 8“Six days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a solemn assembly to the LORD your God; you shall do no work on it.
9“You shall count seven weeks for yourself; you shall begin to count seven weeks from the time you begin to put the sickle to the standing grain. 10“Then you shall celebrate the Feast of Weeks to the LORD your God with a tribute of a freewill offering of your hand, which you shall give just as the LORD your God blesses you; 11and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God, you and your son and your daughter and your male and female servants and the Levite who is in your town, and the stranger and the orphan and the widow who are in your midst, in the place where the LORD your God chooses to establish His name. 12“You shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and you shall be careful to observe these statutes.
13“You shall celebrate the Feast of Booths seven days after you have gathered in from your threshing floor and your wine vat; 14and you shall rejoice in your feast, you and your son and your daughter and your male and female servants and the Levite and the stranger and the orphan and the widow who are in your towns. 15“Seven days you shall celebrate a feast to the LORD your God in the place which the LORD chooses, because the LORD your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you will be altogether joyful.
16“Three times in a year all your males shall appear before the LORD your God in the place which He chooses, at the Feast of Unleavened Bread and at the Feast of Weeks and at the Feast of Booths, and they shall not appear before the LORD empty-handed. 17“Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD your God which He has given you.
18“You shall appoint for yourself judges and officers in all your towns which the LORD your God is giving you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people with righteous judgment. 19“You shall not distort justice; you shall not be partial, and you shall not take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and perverts the words of the righteous. 20“Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue, that you may live and possess the land which the LORD your God is giving you.
21“You shall not plant for yourself an Asherah of any kind of tree beside the altar of the LORD your God, which you shall make for yourself. 22“You shall not set up for yourself a sacred pillar which the LORD your God hates.
The Vanity of Life.
For the choir director, for Jeduthun. A Psalm of David.
1 I said, “I will guard my ways
That I may not sin with my tongue;
I will guard my mouth as with a muzzle
While the wicked are in my presence.”
2 I was mute and silent,
I refrained even from good,
And my sorrow grew worse.
3 My heart was hot within me,
While I was musing the fire burned;
Then I spoke with my tongue:
4 “LORD, make me to know my end
And what is the extent of my days;
Let me know how transient I am.
5 “Behold, You have made my days as handbreadths,
And my lifetime as nothing in Your sight;
Surely every man at his best is a mere breath.