This study touches on subjects that have been gone over in detail in previous studies. Before going over this study, please make sure you have a complete understanding of the the study on The First Commandment – No other gods on my Face, The Second Commandment – No Idols, The Third Commandment – Bearing God’s Name, The Fourth Commandment – The Sabbath and its Purposes, The Fifth Commandment – Treasure Your Parents, The Sixth Commandment – Murder: A Matter of the Heart, The Seventh Commandment -Adultery, The Eighth Commandment – Stealing, Dishonesty, and Oppression, and The Ninth Commandment – Heeding Lies
After going through each of the ten commandment, the tenth commandment, to me, is the commandment that wraps up the first nine into a nice conclusion.
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.” Exodus 20:17
The command to not covet can be easily recognized as a commandment to guard the heart. Coveting doesn’t seem to be something that would hurt somebody else since it is not an action, per se, but a matter of the heart. However, when you delight in something and wish for it in your heart it leads to an action. Coveting leads to sin such as adultery (“you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife”) and theft (“or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s”).
They covet fields and seize them,
and houses, and take them away;
they oppress a man and his house,
a man and his inheritance. Micah 2:2
While it is evident that covetousness can lead to adultery and theft, consider the other commandments. Can it lead to bearing a false witness? It did for Gehazi, the servant of Elisha. When Namaan was healed of his leprosy, he offered Elisha a gift as payment, but Elisha wouldn’t accept it. Gehazi coveted something good from Namaan, so he caught up with him and lied, giving a false witness against Elisha. He told Namaan that Elisha sent him to ask for two talents of silver and two changes of clothes. (2 Kings 5)
Can coveting lead to murder? It did for King David. We all know the story of David’s affair with Bathsheba. He coveted her enough to take her and lie with her. She became pregnant. In an attempt to cover up his evil act, David ultimately killed her husband, Uriah, by putting him at the front of the battle lines, and commanding the rest of the army to abandon him. (2 Samuel 11)
Can coveting lead us to dishonor our parents? Of course it can, especially when it leads to lying, stealing, and adultery. Anytime we break any of the commandments, it is a shame to our parents. We have an example of covetousness leading to a dishonor of a father in Genesis. After the death of Reuben’s step-mom, Reuben slept with his father’s concubine. (Genesis 35:22)
It is safe to say that coveting can lead to us to break all the commandments concerning our neighbors, but what about the commandments that have to do with loving YHVH?
And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” Luke 12:15
When we covet, our desires and the things that are important to us, change from YHVH to possessions. What would be our service to Him turns into service to the possessions we think we want. In some cases, it leads us to say and believe things about YHVH that aren’t true. We say things such as, “YHVH wants me to be wealthy!” or “I’m under an attack from Satan because I don’t have …(fill in the blank).” When we place characteristics on YHVH that are not His, we break the first commandment, by turning Him into a god that He isn’t. The children of Israel were guilty of doing this when they complained against Moses for bringing them out of Egypt. Moses was quick to correct them when he told them
So Moses and Aaron said to all the people of Israel, “At evening you shall know that it was YHVH who brought you out of the land of Egypt, and in the morning you shall see the glory of YHVH, because he has heard your grumbling against YHVH. For what are we, that you grumble against us?” And Moses said, “When YHVH gives you in the evening meat to eat and in the morning bread to the full, because YHVH has heard your grumbling that you grumble against him—what are we? Your grumbling is not against us but against YHVH.” Exodus 16:6-8
Solomon’s covetousness of beautiful women caused him to marry 700 women from all over the world. Because his heart and his desire were for these women, he allowed them to bring in their customs and other gods into the nation of Israel. In doing so, he covenanted himself and the nation of Israel to other gods. Through this came the unraveling of Solomon and the nation of Israel as together they broke the first four commandments – putting no other god before YHVH, making and serving idols, taking His name in vain, and keeping the Sabbath (all the commandments that show us how to love YHVH).
Now King Solomon loved many foreign women, along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, from the nations concerning which YHVH had said to the people of Israel, “You shall not enter into marriage with them, neither shall they with you, for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods.” Solomon clung to these in love. He had 700 wives, who were princesses, and 300 concubines. And his wives turned away his heart. 1 Kings 11:1-3
And this occurred because the people of Israel had sinned against YHVH their God, who had brought them up out of the land of Egypt from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and had feared other gods (first commandment) and walked in the customs of the nations (fourth commandment) whom YHVH drove out before the people of Israel, and in the customs that the kings of Israel had practiced. And the people of Israel did secretly against YHVH their God things that were not right. They built for themselves high places in all their towns, from watchtower to fortified city. They set up for themselves pillars and Asherim on every high hill and under every green tree, and there they made offerings on all the high places, as the nations did whom YHVH carried away before them. And they did wicked things, provoking YHVH to anger, and they served idols (second commandment), of which YHVH had said to them, “You shall not do this.” Yet YHVH warned Israel and Judah by every prophet and every seer, saying, “Turn from your evil ways and keep my commandments and my statutes, in accordance with all the Law that I commanded your fathers, and that I sent to you by my servants the prophets.”
But they would not listen, but were stubborn, as their fathers had been, who did not believe in YHVH their God. They despised his statutes and his covenant that he made with their fathers and the warnings that he gave them. They went after false idols and became false (third commandment), and they followed the nations that were around them, concerning whom YHVH had commanded them that they should not do like them. And they abandoned all the commandments of YHVH their God, and made for themselves metal images of two calves; and they made an Asherah and worshiped all the host of heaven and served Baal. And they burned their sons and their daughters as offerings and used divination and omens and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of YHVH, provoking him to anger. Therefore YHVH was very angry with Israel and removed them out of his sight. None was left but the tribe of Judah only. 2 Kings 17:7-18
YHVH used instruction against coveting to wrap up His ten commandments. Through this He shows us that we should guard our hearts, because that is where sin begins.
But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. James 1:14-15
It is through the desires of our hearts that we will either break our covenant with Him or keep it.
But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Ephesians 5:3-6