This is a very hard text: as if death and life are choices, as if it is always your own fault when life is short, as if your choices will be able to safeguard your children.
Reality is so much more complex and so much more ambiguous than that. In verse fifteen there is acknowledgement of the given-ness of life and death. The NRSV translates “set before” but the Hebrew has nathan which means “to give”. The text does explain what the choice is. Either you love & you walk (I love walking!) or your heart turns away. It is not so much about certain behaviours (although they follow suit) but about attention and direction. Where is your attention? What do you hear? Which direction are you going? Who do you serve?
It is interesting to read Matthew 5 with this in mind: again a very difficult text. It seems to me that Jesus is uncovering the attention and direction underneath certain behaviours. There is more to choosing life than good behaviour. Even though life and death are a gift rather than a choice and even though victim blaming is not a good thing, even so: it is worthwhile to consider both where our attention is and in which direction we are walking. Which way is your heart faced?
12 February 2017
Deut. 30: 15-end
This weekly blog on one of the lectionary readings is by Anna-Claar Thomasson-Rosingh, Coordinator for the Centre for Encountering the Bible and Director of Studies for the Centre for Formation in Ministry.