Have you ever used the phrase, “Take care, ya’ll” when saying good-bye? I have. We often use it as a means of saying ‘Be careful’ or ‘Be safe’.
Imagine my surprise when I noticed this phase (minus the ‘ya’ll’ part!) while reading in Deuteronomy chapter four as part of my “As it Happened” Bible reading plan. It caught my attention so I highlighted it for future study. As I continued reading through Deuteronomy for the next couple of weeks, I noticed the phrase showing up frequently. It was time to check this out!
Come to find out, Moses used the phrase ‘take care’ more than 30 times from chapter four through chapter 31. As I read and researched this long passage, it became quite obvious that Moses was not just simply telling the Children of Israel to be careful and safe as they prepared to cross over into the Promised Land.
Deuteronomy 4 begins with Moses’ final instructions (from God) for the Children of Israel as they prepared to cross over the Jordan River into the Promised Land. Besides specific instructions of obedience, the next 30ish chapters also include a review of God’s Law, the ‘If-Then’ blessings/curses contained in Mosaic Covenant, the unconditional promises contained in the Abrahamic covenant, and reminders of God’s care and faithfulness. Moses reminded the Children of Israel to make sure to remember these things…and to take them to heart.
More than 30 times he commanded and reminded them to "take care"---to carefully consider---these instructions, reminders, and warnings. These 30+ ‘take care’ phrases don’t even include the ‘listen, lest you forget’ and ‘watch carefully’ phrases he used as well. I think God was using Moses to pull ‘all the stops’ to get their attention and admonish them to be obedient and faithful as they began the next phase of their journey.
Although the promises were specific to Israel, the principle of the ‘take care’ reminders and warnings can be applied to our lives as New Testament believers as well. Take care to be obedient and faithful because God is faithful and cares for us.
This phrase can also be found in the New Testament, especially in Paul’s final letters to Timothy as he encouraged and exhorted Timothy to... take care.
My favorite section from both 1 and 2 Timothy is 1 Timothy 4:11-16. Paul instructed Timothy to pay attention to his lifestyle and to be accurate in what he taught. The editors of the Expositors Bible Commentary state that Paul was reminding Timothy—-and ultimately to us—-to “keep an eye on yourself and how you live.” *
Please note, these reminders and life-charges are not just intended for ministers. As believers considering our day to day testimony for our Lord and Savior, we too, are challenged to take care to be faithful and true to God’s word by living a faithful and obedient life in order to effectively demonstrate the message of Christ to others.
In conclusion, let’s pay attention to Paul’s words to the Ephesian believers in Ephesians 5:15-16 as a reminder to “pay scrupulous attention to your personal behavior” (EBC…776). This is the same message reiterated to the Children of Israel in Deuteronomy. God used both of these faithful leaders to say to us in principle…
~take care, ya’ll. ~Debbie
"Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk — not as unwise people but as wise — making the most of the time, because the days are evil.”
Ephesians 5:15-16 HCSB
This has been an ‘ouch’ blog to write…a clear, yet blunt, reminder to us as committed followers of Christ to remember to ‘take care’ to apply these principles to our actions, responses, and every day lifestyle... even when life is bumpy!
Barker, Kenneth L and Kohnlenberger, John R III, editors, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary- Old Testament, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994.