Skip to main content

A few years back I preached a series of sermons on the Ten Commandments. As part of worship each week, we used a responsive reading of this key part of God's Law as a call to discipleship. There are several great readings out there. The Worship Sourcebook includes readings that pair the commandments with their explanations from the Heidelberg Catechism, that explain the commandments in language that's friendly for children, and that reframe the commandments in positive language—what we should do rather than what we should not do. The CRC's gray Psalter Hymnal included readings that used the Ten Commandments as a teacher of sin and and a rule of gratitude, plus responsive readings that paired the commandments with corresponding instructions from Jesus' words in the Gospels, from the Epistles (New Testament Letters), and from the Psalms. I liked how these readings, especially the last three, used Scripture to help us understand Scripture. That got me thinking. Could I find passages from the other major sections of the Bible that mirror and help explain the meaning of the Ten Commandments? Absolutely! Below are responsive readings of God's Law from the Torah (the first five books of the Old Testament, also called the Pentateuch), from the Old Testament Wisdom Books (not including Psalms), and from the Old Testament Prophets. Bible texts are quoted from the New International Version (2011). Please feel free to use these in your own worship!

(from the Torah)
L: And God spoke all these words: I am the Lord your God…. You shall have no other gods before me.
P: It is the Lord your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him.
L: You shall not make for yourself an idol…. You shall not bow down to them or worship them.
P: You saw no form of any kind the day the Lord spoke to you at Horeb out of the fire. Therefore watch yourselves very carefully, so that you do not become corrupt and make for yourselves an idol, an image of any shape.
L: You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.
P: Do not swear falsely by my name and so profane the name of your God. I am the Lord.
L: Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.
P: You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come, so you may know that I am the Lord, who makes you holy…. For six days work is to be done, but the seventh day is a day of Sabbath rest, holy to the Lord.
L: Honor your father and your mother.
P: Each of you must respect your mother and father.
L: You shall not murder.
P: Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor’s life. I am the Lord. Do not hate your neighbor in your heart.
L: You shall not commit adultery.
P: Do not have sexual relations with your neighbor and defile yourself.
L: You shall not steal.
P: Do not defraud or rob your neighbor. Do not hold back the wages of a hired worker overnight.
L: You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
P: Do not spread false reports. Do not lie. Do not deceive one another.
L: You shall not covet.
P: Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds those who see and twists the words of the innocent.

(from Wisdom Literature)
L: And God spoke all these words: I am the Lord your God…. You shall have no other gods before me.
P: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
L: You shall not make for yourself an idol…. You shall not bow down to them or worship them.
P: Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar.
L: You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.
P: Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.
L: Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God.
P: The fear of the Lord leads to life; then one rests content, untouched by trouble.
L: Honor your father and your mother.
P: Listen to your father, who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old.
L: You shall not murder.
P: There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies, and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.
L: You shall not commit adultery.
P: I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.
L: You shall not steal.
P: Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, “Who is the Lord?” Or I may become poor and steal and so dishonor the name of my God.
L: You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
P: If I have walked with falsehood or my foot has hurried after deceit… that would have been wicked, a sin to be judged.
L: You shall not covet.
P: All day long the wicked crave for more, but the righteous give without sparing.

(from the Prophets)
L: And God spoke all these words: I am the Lord your God…. You shall have no other gods before me.
P: For this is what the Lord says―he who created the heavens, he is God; he who fashioned and made the earth, he founded it; he did not create it empty, but formed it to be inhabited―he says: I am the Lord, and there is no other.
L: You shall not make for yourself an idol…. You shall not bow down to them or worship them.
P: Like a scarecrow in a cucumber field, their idols cannot speak; they must be carried because they cannot walk. Do not fear them; they can do no harm nor can they do any good.
L: You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.
P: My name will be great among the nations, from where the sun rises to where it sets. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to me, because my name will be great among the nations.
L: Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God.
P: Keep my Sabbaths holy, that they may be a sign between us. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.
L: Honor your father and your mother.
P: They have treated father and mother with contempt… they have oppressed the foreigner and mistreated the fatherless and the widow.
L: You shall not murder.
P: Do what is just and right…. Do no wrong or violence to the foreigner, the fatherless, or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood.
L: You shall not commit adultery.
P: Suppose there is a righteous person who does what is just and right…. They do not defile their neighbors.
L: You shall not steal.
P: Am I still to forget your ill-gotten treasures? … Shall I acquit someone with dishonest scales, with a bag of false weights?
L: You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
P: Your lips have spoken falsely, and your tongue mutters wicked things…. They rely on empty arguments, they utter lies; they conceive trouble and give birth to evil.
L: You shall not covet.
P: Woe to those who plan iniquity, to those who plot evil on their beds! … They covet fields and seize them, and houses, and take them.

 

Comments

Thank you for sharing. This is a terrific resource for worship planning. I appreciate the back and forth between the leader and the congregation as it brings thoughtfulness into speaking the law out loud. 

Let's Discuss

We love your comments! Thank you for helping us uphold the Community Guidelines to make this an encouraging and respectful community for everyone.

Login or Register to Comment

We want to hear from you.

Connect to The Network and add your own question, blog, resource, or job.

Add Your Post