Deuteronomy 30, or “The Offer of Life or Death”

My husband and I decided early on in our marriage (ha! We’ve only been married for just under two years!) that we would eschew the cookie-cutter wall mentality, and instead collect unique pieces of art. Of course, in this (as in most things) we have found that our taste exceeds our budget. We are hardly the types who will one day be able to gift our collection of fine art to a museum, but that doesn’t mean that we are doomed to a series of large (ahem *cough*) IKEA prints. Not that there’s anything wrong with those.

Thankfully, we have found ways to make this happen within our means. We have purchased limited-edition prints from a local artist whose work was recently featured in a the new Valley Metro Light Rail advertisements. We have taken and framed our own photographs. And, perhaps most importantly, we have scored two paintings by a longtime friend of my husband who will no doubt soon be on to bigger and better things as he starts his grahic design firm.

The first was a thank you gift for us, but this second one is different: it is our first commissioned piece of work. In lieu of personal gifts, we gave it to each other for Christmas.


Though the painting is untitled, I’ve been calling it “The Offer of Life or Death,” because that was the only direction we gave to our friend: we wanted the painting to portray the offer (or choice, depending on your translation) of life or death passage in Deuteronomy Chapter 30, verses 15-20 (Here in the English Standard Version)

“See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. If you obey the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you today, by loving the LORD your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish. You shall not live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to enter and possess. I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the LORD your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.”

My favorite aspect of the painting is how it combines different metaphors for God’s people, both the faithful (depicted as a strong arm) and the faithless (depicted as a withering branch).

Here is photograph of both paintings together, though the Offer of Life or Death now hangs in our bedroom.

Patrick Nixon Paintings

We haven’t been told what the clown painting depicts, though I have my own theories.