Love the Lord Your God
6 These are the commands, decrees and laws the Lord your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, 2 so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the Lord your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life. 3 Hear, Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, promised you.
Now this is the commandment: This is a continuation of ch. 5. The Commandment refers to the instruction to love the Lord, vs.5. Moses was commanded to give His law to Israel. It was not the law of Moses, but the Law of God. The Hebrew is emphatic here. These words translate the same Hebrew phrase as in Deu.5:33: “Walk in obedience to all that the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.” Here also we may understand the meaning as “long life in the land.” This is also reminiscent of Deu.5:16 “Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” Moses called attention to The Commandment. In the following verses, God reduced the law to one ruling principle, one commandment that encompassed all the commandments.
That your days may be prolonged… that it may be well with you: Israel’s fate rested on their obedience to this one great commandment, obedience to the Father. If they obeyed the commandment, their life would be long and filled with blessing. If they did not obey they could expect to be cursed by God.
Fear of the Lord includes awe for His greatness and holiness, love for Him, and submission to His will. The “fear” or reverence of the Lord leads to a sense of wonder, a commitment to worship, and delight in knowing God. God promised to bless generation to generation in Gen.17:7,8, He expected His people to follow His ways from generation to generation as well.
4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[a] 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
Hear, O Israel: In Hebrew, these verses are known as the Shema (“hear” in Hebrew). It is the classic Hebrew confession of faith, describing who God is and what our duty is towards Him. The verse starts with a command for the people to respond properly to God. They must listen and obey.
The LORD our God, the LORD is one: This is the essential truth about God and the people’s relationship with Him, the living God. The Lord is one means “the Lord alone”. There is only one God. He is a person and not a vague “universal” force, meaning the universe should not be used as a description of who God is. Being one, He cannot be represented by contradictory images. Since the LORD our God is one, He is not Baal or Ashtoreth, He is the LORD God, and they are not. Though the Hebrew may be translated several ways, it is best to understand the verse as affirming both God’s uniqueness and unity or singularity—the only God is “one” as in Mark 12:29. As the Old Testament implies and the New Testament explicitly teaches, however, there is differentiation of Persons within the unity of the Godhead. God commanded His people to choose Him with all their being . This is the language of devotion. God does not demand mere outward obedience to a law, but the heartfelt love and commitment of the whole person denying all other supposed deities.
6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
These commandments must first be in our heart. Then it must be communicated to our children, the topic of our conversation, and should always be in front of us as near as our hand or our forehead, as ever before us as our doorposts and gates. God’s revelations should be so central to a godly family that they and He are naturally talked about during daily activities.
In later years the Jews interpreted these instructions literally. They instructed men to wear phylacteries, boxes containing passages of Scripture, strapped to the forehead or hand, when they prayed, Matt.23:5. The command of putting scripture on the door post leads us to the Jewish practice of the mezuzah. This is a small container holding a passage of Scripture that is nailed to a doorpost. In any case, the intent of these verses is that God’s laws should be close to the mind and hands of His people at all times.
10 When the Lord your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you—a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, 11 houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant—then when you eat and are satisfied, 12 be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
Moses warned the people not to forget that their possessions were God’s gifts. God had not only saved their ancestors from slavery, and He planned to bring Israel into an abundant, prepared land. The Israelites needed to continually praise and thank God for His mercy toward them.
Moses warned them not to forget. However, this cycle of forgetfulness would be repeated through the history of Israel (and us, unfortunately), especially in the time of the Judges. God would bless an obedient Israel, and they would prosper; they would begin to set their heart on the blessings instead of the LORD who blessed them; God would allow chastisement to turn Israel’s focus back upon Him; Israel would repent and obey again, and God would again bless an obedient Israel and they would prosper.
This reminds us that we must continually be in praise and thankfulness for His mercy and blessings towards us.
13 Fear the Lord your God, serve him only, and take your oaths in his name. 14 Do not follow other gods, the gods of the peoples around you; 15 for the Lord your God, who is among you, is a jealous God and his anger will burn against you, and he will destroy you from the face of the land.
The Lord demanded absolute commitment to Himself. The people were to do this willingly, out of gratitude. He instructs them to take their oaths in His name. The fact that God had revealed His name assures the people of God’s goodness to them. Although the concept of the oath in God’s name can certainly be abused, as Jesus pointed out in Matt.5:33-37, there certainly is a permissible use of oaths by those who follow God, since God Himself uses oaths: Heb. 6:13. Here, Israel is being told, “you are to swear an oath only in the name of the LORD, not in the name of any other god.” He wanted them to look to Him alone for refuge and sustenance. Jesus quoted this when satan was tempting Him in Matt.4:10.
16 Do not put the Lord your God to the test as you did at Massah. 17 Be sure to keep the commands of the Lord your God and the stipulations and decrees he has given you. 18 Do what is right and good in the Lord’s sight, so that it may go well with you and you may go in and take over the good land the Lord promised on oath to your ancestors, 19 thrusting out all your enemies before you, as the Lord said.
God warned His children not to test or tempt God, by their rebelliousness or sin, Matt.4:7 and Luke 4:12. Moses applied a lesson from the past, Massah: Ex.17:1-7, and exhorted the new generation to be faithful to God. *In Ex.17:1-7 Israel tempted the LORD by doubting His love and concern for them. This was tempting or testing God regarding His love for Israel, something that is not only high-handed against the LORD, because we have no right to administer a test to the Almighty, but also disregarding His previous, and constant demonstrations of love and care for Israel, by demanding that God prove His love for them now by giving them what they want. “And you shall do what is right… that it may be well with you”: This theme is constantly repeated. Under the Old Covenant, Israel’s blessing was based on their obedience. When they obeyed they would be blessed; when they disobeyed they would be cursed. They were also instructed to cast out all of their enemies: Canaan’s false worship and it’s immorality could no longer influence the Israelites if were entirely thrown out of the land.
20 In the future, when your son asks you, “What is the meaning of the stipulations, decrees and laws the Lord our God has commanded you?” 21 tell him: “We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, but the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. 22 Before our eyes the Lord sent signs and wonders—great and terrible—on Egypt and Pharaoh and his whole household. 23 But he brought us out from there to bring us in and give us the land he promised on oath to our ancestors. 24 The Lord commanded us to obey all these decrees and to fear the Lord our God so that we might always prosper and be kept alive, as is the case today.
Often, the apostasy that comes from prosperity afflicts the next generation more than the present. They grow up expecting such prosperity and blessing, without understanding the repentance and walk with God that led to the prosperity. Therefore, Moses commands the Israelites to teach their children the significance of their ritual: “We were slaves…in Egypt; the Lord brought us out…with a mighty hand; to give us the land; we have a challenge to responsible action. It was essential for Israel to teach and warn their children, so that the blessings given to one generation would not become a curse to the next generation. In the same way, Christians should make sure their children know the meaning of their practices. Parents need to relate to their children how they came to a personal relationship with Jesus, so the children understand that they must come to the same relationship.
25 And if we are careful to obey all this law before the Lord our God, as he has commanded us, that will be our righteousness.”
If one will obtain true righteousness through the law, it is simple, though not easy: observe all the commandments. Moses did not offer the people a works-righteousness by keeping the law. Righteousness is a right relationship with God. God initiates this relationship and His children respond to it by obedience as an expression of love.
- Deuteronomy 6:4 Or The Lord our God is one Lord; or The Lord is our God, the Lord is one; or The Lord is our God, the Lord alone