Deuteronomy 28: 13 -14
The Lord will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the Lord your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom. Do not turn aside from any of the commands I give you today, to the right or to the left, following other gods and serving them. NIV
I’m back in Deuteronomy 28.
The Message translates these verses, “God will make you the head, not the tail; you’ll always be the top dog, never the bottom dog, as you obediently listen to and diligently keep the commandments of God, your God, that I am commanding you today. Don’t swerve an inch to the right of left from words that I command you today by going off following and worshipping other gods.” MSG.
There’s a lot here to ponder.
Obedience … bottom dog … the narrow path.
I’m not a dog person. For the most part, they frighten me. When I was very small, we moved into a house next to a family that had a German Shepherd. Lucky was his name, and he was much taller than I was. Lucky was loud. He would stand at the chain link fence between our houses and bark, and bark and bark. When I was outside, he would run up and down the fence and bark, and bark and bark, and I remember how big his teeth seemed, and how mad he seemed.
Now that I’m older and have played with a few dogs, I can see that it is likely that Lucky just wanted attention. I’m betting he was pretty frustrated by the little kid who wouldn’t come over and talk to him or try to pet or play with him along the fence.
I was the bottom dog. The bottom dog always submits to the top dog’s wishes. In my case, I interpreted Lucky’s wish as being that I would stay as far away as possible … I was more than happy to do that.
There’s a Looney Toons cartoon that I’ve always loved. It features two dogs … a big bull dog, whose name, I think, is Chester, and a much smaller dog, who spends most of the cartoon trying to please Chester. Chester is the top dog … he gets to call the shots … the top dog has no worries.
This verse is very interesting to me when I bump it up against Matthew 20:16, “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” NIV
In Christ, we are called to be servants. We must put the needs of others first, and our own second. This seems counterintuitive to Deuteronomy 28, but, as I think about it, it makes perfect sense.
If we follow the commands of the Lord our God, if we love our neighbors as ourselves, if we follow Christ’s teachings and his example, we will not veer from the narrow path referenced at the end of these two verses.
We will be the victors, we will be the head and not the tail, we will spend eternity in the kingdom of heaven.
That’s what I’ll think about today.