Moses gave instruction for what Israel was to do when they came into the land the LORD had given them. In Joshua 8:30-35 this instruction is fulfilled. With the twelve tribes divided in half on Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal, the Levites were to declare twelve specific curses to which the people's response was to be "Amen."
In the ESV, Amen is also translated as "truth" in Isaiah 65:16 and as "so be it" in Jeremiah 11:5. These two translations help us to understand what the people were saying in response to the curses set before them. By saying "Amen" the people were giving a strong affirmation of their agreement with each curse that was declared by the Levites. In effect, they were saying "Surely this is true."
When I was a kid, many churches had an "Amen Corner." It was not literally a corner, but the section of the congregation that vocally agreed with what the preacher was saying. I do not hear that response as much anymore, and when I do, it is not nearly as loud. That might be a tradition the church should consider restoring. For sure, God's people should be affirming the pastor in their heart if not with their mouth.
It seems the key to understanding the twelve curses listed in chapter 27 is found in verses 15 and 24. Each of these verses describes the action worthy of a curse as being done in secret. All twelve were "secret" sins, whether moving boundary markers, having sex with a family member, or not confirming all the law by obedience. The people of Israel and the authorities would not know what happened in secret but God would, and He would be the judge who dispensed the curse accordingly.
Father, just as the Israelites were instructed to renew their covenant, remind me of my daily need. I know I daily need the Gospel of Jesus Christ as a constant reminder of who You are and of the blessing and curses only You give.
Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible which is appropriate since it declares the splendor of God's word. As we read Psalm 119 over the next seven days, I suggest you pay particular attention to the various words used to describe God's instruction. What does the author want us to know by using so many descriptions of the Bible? Also, keep track of the promises made to those who follow God's way. The most important thing to do while reading this chapter is to prayerfully consider your response to God's word just as the author does in verse 5.
It seems fitting that we begin reading Deuteronomy 27 and 28 on the same day we start Psalm 119. In Deuteronomy 27, Moses renews God's covenant with the nation of Israel by permanently writing God's law on large stones and building an altar upon which to sacrifice a peace offering with rejoicing before the LORD. Then Moses begins the list of blessings and curses based upon the people's response to God's law. You will notice in these two chapters; the curses outnumber the blessings. The blessings are contained in 14 verses (Deuteronomy 28:1-14) while the curses require 54 (Deuteronomy 28:15-68). That's not including the curses to which the people say "Amen" in chapter 27.
Psalm 119 continues the list of blessings for those who pursue life built on the law of the LORD. Tomorrow after reading all the curses for disobedience in Deuteronomy 28, you will rejoice in Psalm 119 at the blessings. If you ever want the summary of Psalm 119, check out Psalm 19:7-14.
My prayer for us as we read and study this Psalm is found in verse 18, "Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law."