Deuteronomy 9:6 (HCSB)
6 Understand that the Lord your God is not giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stiff-necked people.
The end of this pericope is something I should read every day! God is setting the picture of what is about to happen: the Israelites, refugees from Egypt, a nation without a home, is about to enter Canaan and defeat the descendants of Anakim, a “strong and tall” people, a people that the Israelites have heard about, specifically their toughness.
But the Israelites themselves aren’t going to do the heavy lifting here. No, Deut. 9:3 tells us that God is going before them and messing them up. The Israelites are mopping up afterwards. This is going to be a victory for God, and the Israelites are just going to be the beneficiaries.
And that is the message God is making clear: don’t think you did it, God did it. God says in three consecutive verses (Deut. 9:4-6) that the Israelites are not taking Canaan because of their righteousness. It’s because of the Canaanite wickedness. It’s because of God’s covenant with their ancestors. The one thing it is absolutely not about is the righteousness of the Israelites. In fact, God closes this passage with an extra little confirmation, not just that it’s not due to the Israelite’s righteousness, but that they are a “stiff-necked people”!
It is easy to receive the blessings that God showers us with and think that we somehow deserve them, or earned them, or heck, even “seized” them, due to our own righteousness or power. But just as the Israelites, at best we are the mop up reliever who comes in when the game is a blowout.
Lord, thank You for blessing us with everything we have. Some more than others, but all of us recipients of Your grace and mercy. I am sorry for claiming glory for myself, for thinking that I’ve somehow earned, or deserve, what You have given me. I don’t deserve any of it, yet You are merciful. I pray that we will worship You, instead of ourselves, giving You the glory that You so deserve. Amen.