You Shall Not Covet

You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife. You shall not set your desire on your neighbor’s house or land, his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor (Deuteronomy 5:21 NIV).

A non-Christian friend once asked to be shown where the ten commandments where located in the Bible. When he had read them he commented thus with a note of surprise and discovery: “The last one which forbids coveting includes everything!” He saw what we Christian’s often fail to see. The last commandment includes everything in its scope. The problem with us is that for brevity we read only the phrase, “Do not covet” in our Church services. So we are not made aware of how far-reaching this commandment is.

Now what exactly is coveting? It is having a strong desire to have something; especially which belongs to someone else. Though God honors desires when you delight in Him (Psalm 37:4), He does not allow you to desire what belongs to someone else. That kind of a wrong desire leads to sin.

For example, King David became guilty of adultery and murder. But he would have been stopped from committing these sins had he remembered this commandment of not coveting. When he sent messengers to find out who the woman was, they came and told him that she was the wife of Uriah. At least then he should have realized that he was coveting and violating the tenth commandment. Its violation led to the violation of other commandments as well.

Another reason for coveting is not being satisfied with what God has given you. This dissatisfaction leads to envy. When you become envious you are never able to take your thoughts off what is your neighbor’s. And then it troubles you. And you think of how you can get what is someone else’s. So be content in life with what God has graciously given you.

Also note the fact that God asked David this question through Nathan the prophet: “And if all this had been too little, I would have given you more. Why did you despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in his eyes” (2 Samuel 12:8z, 9a)? David might have been discontented about what God had already given him. So avoid dissatisfaction in life and be content. Do not covet!