DEUTERONOMY CHAPTER 6.
Obedience to the One God and His Law.
THE EMPHATIC ADMONITION. ó V.1. Now, these are the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments, the general laws, the special ordinances which concerned Israel as the covenant people, and the observances which flow from the obligations which men owe to God and to their fellow-men, which the Lord, your God, commanded to teach you that ye might do them in the land whither ye go to possess it; v.2. that thou mightest fear the Lord, thy God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command thee, in his capacity of teacher, of representative of God, thou, and thy son, and thy sonís son, all the days of thy life; and that thy days may be prolonged, for the blessing of a long life often follows obedience to Godís commandments. That is the object which the Lord had in mind in giving His Law, to awaken the fear of God in the hearts and to have this faith manifest itself in good works. V.3. Hear, therefore, O Israel, and observe to do it, that it may be well with thee, and that ye may increase mightily, as the Lord God of thy fathers hath promised thee, Gen. 15, 5, in the land that floweth with milk and honey. There are three promises included in this statement: That God would surely bring the children of Israel into the land of Canaan, that they would there enjoy the rich prosperity which the fertility of the land assured, and that they would increase greatly in numbers, as the Lord had said to Abraham. Moses now formally pronounces the first and most important command, the summary of all the other commandments. V.4. Hear, O Israel: The Lord, our God, is one Lord, Jehovah the One. The Lord of Israel is the absolute God, and there is none other. With these words Moses opens the exposition and the inculcation of the Lordís precepts; for unless the worshiper gives his whole heart and mind to this God alone, he cannot perform His will. V.5. and thou shalt love the Lord, thy God, with all thine heart and with all thy soul and with all thy might, Mark 12, 30. All the powers of the inner life, of affection and will, should be centered in God, in the fulfillment of His will. V.6. And these words which I command thee this day shall be in thine heart, that is the prerequisite, the condition which is necessary if the believer will do the Lordís will: he will have the words containing His will before his mindís eye always. V.7, And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, impressing and inculcating them upon their minds while they are still in the plastic state, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. They should, in other words, form the chief topic of consideration and of conversation in the Israelitish family. There is a fine hint here that home devotions and home teaching of the words and will of the Lord should be a prominent feature in every Christian family. V.8. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, as a reminder that they should be performed at all times; and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes, as a reminder that the words of the Lord should be the chief object of meditation in the believer. The Jews, in later times, insisted upon a literal understanding of the command, and it became the fashion among the more devout Jews to wear little cases with the Scripture-texts Ex. 13, 1-11; 11-17; Deut. 6, 4-10; 11, 13-26, called Tephillim, fastened to the left hand and to the forehead-the phylacteries of Matt. 23, 5. V.9. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, on the door-posts, and on thy gates. This command was later also reduced to a mere outward observance in the Jewish custom of the Mesusah, according to which a piece of parchment containing Deut. 6, 4-9 and 11, 13-20 was placed in a small wood or metal case and fastened to the right door-post of the house. V.10. And it shall be, when the Lord, thy God, shall have brought thee in to the land which he sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give thee great and goodly cities, which thou buildedst not, v.11. and houses full of good things, which thou filledst not, and wells digged, which thou diggedst not, vineyards and olive-trees, which thou plantedst not; when thou shalt have eaten and be full, all of which emphasizes the rich temporal blessings which the children of Israel might expect in the land of Canaan, v.12. then beware lest thou forget the Lord which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. There is always this danger connected with material prosperity, that men forget and deny the Lord, Prov. 30, 8. 9. V.13. Thou shalt fear the Lord, thy God, not with slavish terror, but with reverential awe, and serve Him, which follows and flows out of the true fear of the Lord, and shalt swear by His name. Note that oaths of the right kind are not forbidden, but that they must be made in the name of the true God, for as such they are a manifestation of the worship of the heart, of the proper attitude toward the one true God, namely, as the Witness of truth and the Avenger of falsehood. V.14. Ye shall not go after other gods, follow them like misguided sheep, of the gods of the people which are roundabout you, the various objects of worship adored by the heathen nations of Canaan, v.15. (for the Lord, thy God, is a jealous God among you, Ex. 20, 5) lest the anger of the Lord, thy God, be kindled against thee, like a fire that grows beyond control, and destroy thee from off the face of the earth. That was the punishment which He threatened in the case of gross idolatry. These admonitions apply also to us. It is our duty not only to ponder the will of the Lord in our hearts, but also to confess it with our mouth and to practice it in our life.
THE ADMONITION SUBSTANTIATED. ó V.16. Ye shall not tempt the Lord, your God, put either His mercy or His righteousness to a test, as ye tempted Him in Massah, Ex. 17, 2. 7, in the matter of demanding water to drink in the wilderness. V.17. Ye shall diligently keep, literally, ďobserving ye shall observe,Ē the commandments of the Lord, your God, and His testimonies and His statutes which He hath commanded thee. It was and is a sacred duty, a solemn obligation. V.18. And thou shalt do that which is right and good in the sight of the Lord, that it may be well with thee, and that thou mayest go in and possess the good land which the Lord sware unto thy fathers, v.19. to cast out all thine enemies from before thee, to make room for His own people, as the Lord hath spoken. This was the reward of faithfulness, and its object was to strengthen Israel in its loyalty to Jehovah. V.20. And when thy son, any of the children or descendants, asketh thee in time to come, saying, What mean the testimonies and the statutes and the judgments which the Lord, our God, hath commanded you? v.21. then thou shalt say unto thy son, We were Pharaohís bondmen in Egypt, forced to perform the work of slaves; and the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand, Ex. 3, 19; v.22. and the Lord showed signs and wonders, great and sore, namely, the bad plagues, upon Egypt, upon Pharaoh, and upon all his household, before our eyes, chap. 4, 34; v.23. and He brought us out from thence that He might bring us in to give us the land which He sware unto our fathers. Thus the Lord carried out His promise to its full completion. V.24. And the Lord commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the Lord, our God, for our good always, for it is always to the believerís own advantage if he walks in the ways of the Lord, that He might preserve us alive as it is at this day. V.25. And it shall be our righteousness if we observe to do all these commandments before the Lord, our God, as He hath commanded us. In this the righteousness of the children of Israel consisted, namely, that they observed and kept the will of the Lord in the love which flows from true faith. Thus the righteousness of faith always precedes the righteousness of life, and the latter serves to indicate the presence of the former. The believers in Christ will not walk after the flesh, but after the Spirit, and thus give evidence of the fact that they are possessors of justification by faith.