Deuteronomy 4: "Take Heed to Thyself"

Old Testament Seminary Student Study Guide, (2002), 72


Deuteronomy 4 tells how Moses used the Israelites’ history to teach them about their duty to God and their religion. Moses also said that his teachings applied to all future generations of Israelites, and he told parents to teach their children the truths he taught them.

Understanding the Scriptures

Deuteronomy 4

Statutes (vv. 1, 5–6, 8, 14, 40, 45)Laws, commandments, and ordinances 
Diminish ought (v. 2)Take away anything 
Cleave (v. 4)Stay close to 
Nigh (v. 7)Near 
Take heed (un)to thyself/yourselves (vv. 9, 15, 23)Be careful about what you do 
Keep (v. 9)To be careful 
Horeb (v. 10)Another name for Mount Sinai 
Driven (v. 19)Directed 
Thence (v. 29)That place 
Tribulation (v. 30)Trouble 
Forsake (v. 31)Abandon 
On this side Jordan toward the sunrising (vv. 41, 47)On the east of the Jordan River 

Deuteronomy 4:9, 15, 23—How Do We Apply the Counsel “Take Heed to Thyself”?

Elder M. Russell Ballard, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, suggested a way to apply this idea. In a talk to the youth of the Church, he said: “I encourage you to take time each week to be by yourself, away from television and the crowd. Have your scriptures with you, and as you read, ponder, and pray, take an honest look at your life. Evaluate where you stand with the promises you have made with Heavenly Father. If you have a problem, talk it over with the Lord in earnest and humble prayer. Counsel with your parents; they will help you. Your bishop and your Young Men and Young Women adult leaders will help. They love you and want you to be at peace with yourself so you can partake of the sacrament worthily each week. When all is said and done, however, only you know if you are living true to your covenants made with God” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1993, 7; or Ensign, May 1993, 8).

Studying the Scriptures

Do activity A as you study Deuteronomy 4.

Activity A iconBe a Missionary

Your friend who is not a member of the Church says that Christians should use only the Bible for scripture. To prove her point, she quotes to you Revelation 22:18–19. Look up these verses and compare them to Deuteronomy 4:2. Write a note to your friend that explains how these two scriptures are alike and what would happen if you used Deuteronomy the same way she used Revelation 22. Also explain what these scriptures really mean.

Activity B iconNotice a Pattern in the Scriptures

Find and mark the similar phrase in Deuteronomy 4:9, 15, 23. How do these three verses help us understand who is responsible for our keeping the commandments? (Notice also the statement from Elder Ballard in the “Understanding the Scriptures” section for how to apply this counsel.)

Activity C iconUse the Scriptures to Help Someone Who Has Sinned

Use the ideas in Deuteronomy 4:25–31 to give advice and hope to someone who has strayed from what he or she knows to be right. Write your advice in your notebook.