Deu_6:1. Now these are the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments, which the LORD your God commanded to teach you, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go to possess it:
God’s commandments are to be taught, but they are also to be practiced: “which the Lord your God commanded to teach you, that ye might do them.” And it is this doing of them that is the hard part of the work. It is not easy always to teach them; a man needs the Spirit of God if he is to teach them aright, but practice is harder than preaching. May God grant us grace, whenever we hear his Word, to do it!
Deu_6:2. That thou mightest fear the LORD thy God, to keep all his statutes and his commandments, which I command thee, thou, and thy son, and thy son’s son, all the days of thy life; and that thy days may be prolonged.
The fear of God must always be a practical power in our lives: “that thou mightest fear the Lord thy God, to keep all his statutes and his commandments.” And that practical fear should lead us into obedience in detail; we ought so to study God’s Word that we endeavor “to keep all his statutes and his commandments.” A slipshod obedience is disobedience. We must be careful and watchful to know the divine will, and in all respects to carry it out. You who are his children, dwelling in such a household, and with such a Father, it well becomes you to be obedient children. Nay, it is not only for us to obey the command of the Lord our God, but we should pray till the rest of the verse also comes true: “thou, and thy son, and thy sows son,” our children and our children’s children. I am sure that, if we love God, we shall long that our children and our children’s children may love him, too. If your trade has supported you, and brought you in a competence, you will naturally wish to bring your son up to it. But, on a far higher platform, if God has been a good God to you, your deepest desire will be that your son and your son’s son should serve the same Divine Master through all the days of their life. “That thy days may be prolonged.” God does not give long life to all his people; yet in obedience to God is the most probable way of securing long life. There are also many of God’s saints who are spared in times of pestilence, or who are delivered by an act of faith out of great dangers. That ancient declaration of God often comes true in these later times, “As the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.” At any rate, you who love the Lord shall live out your days, whereas the wicked shall not live out half their days. You shall complete the circle of life, whether it be a great circle or a little one; with long life will God satisfy you, and show you his salvation. The passage which now follows is held in very great esteem by the Jewish people even down to this day. They repeat it frequently, for it forms part of their morning and evening services.
Deu_6:3-4. 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, in the land that floweth with milk and honey. Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:
There is but one God. This is the very basis of our faith; we know nothing of “gods many and lords many.” Yet it is the Triune God whom we worship; we are not less Unitarians in the highest meaning of that word because we are Trinitarians. We are not less believers in the one living and true God because we worship Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Deu_6:5. And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
Does not this show what is the very nature of God? God is love, for he commands us to love him. There was never an earthly prince or king whom I have heard of in whose statute book it was written, “Thou shalt love the king.” No; it is only in the statute book of him who is the Lord of life and love that we read such a command as this. To my mind it seems a very blessed privilege for us to be permitted to love One so great as God is. Here it is we find our heaven. It is a command, but we regard it rather as a loving, tender invitation to the highest bliss: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart,” — that is, intensely; “and with all thy soul,” —that is, most sincerely, most lovingly, “and with all thy might” with all thy energy, with every faculty, with every possibility of thy nature.
Deu_6:6. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:
Oh, how blessed to have them written on the heart by the Holy Spirit. We can never get them there except he who made the heart anew shall engrave upon these fleshy tablets the divine precepts.
Deu_6:7. And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children,
Christian parent, have you done this? “Thou shalt” not only teach them, but “teach them diligently unto thy children.”
Deu_6:7. 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.
Our common talk should be much more spiritual than it often is. There is no fear of degrading sacred subjects by the frequent use of them; the fear lies much the other way, lest by a disuse of them we come to forget them. This blessed Book, the Holy Word of God, is a fit companion for your leisure as well as for your labour, for the time of your sleeping and the time of your waking. It will bless you in your private meditations, and equally cheer the social hearth, and comfort you when in mutual friendship you speak the one with the other. Those who truly love God greatly love his holy Word.
Deu_6:8. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand,
They shall be thy practical guide, at thy fingers’ ends, as it were.
Deu_6:8. And they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.
Thou shalt see by them, thou shalt see with them, thou shalt see through them.
Deu_6:9. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.
I could almost wish that this were literally fulfilled much more often than it is. I was charmed, in many a Swiss village, to see a text of Scripture carved on the door post. A text hung up in your houses may often speak when you are silent. We cannot do anything that shall be superfluous in the way of making known the Word of God.
Deu_6:10-12. And it shall be, when the LORD thy God shall have brought thee into 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, and houses full of all 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; then beware lest thou forget the LORD, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.
Bread eaten is soon forgotten. How often we act like clogs that will take the bones from our hand, and then forget the hand that gave them! It should not be so with us. All our spiritual, mercies, and many of our temporal ones, are very much like the inheritance of Israel in the land of Canaan, wells that they did not dig, and vineyards which they did not plant. Our blessings come from sources that are beyond our own industry and skill; they are the fruits of the holy inventiveness of God, and the splendor and fullness of his thoughtfulness towards his poor children. Let us not forget him, since evidently he never forgets us.
Deu_6:13-15. Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name. Ye shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the people which are round about you; (for the LORD thy God is a jealous God among you) lest the anger of the Lord thy God be kindled against thee, and destroy thee from off the face of the earth.
Our God is a jealous God. One said to a Puritan, “Why be so precise?” and he replied, “Because I serve a precise God.” God has done so much for us, in order to win our hearts, that he ought to have them altogether for himself. When he has them all, it is all too little; but to divide our heart is to grieve his Spirit, and sorely to vex him.
Deu_6:16-24. Ye shall not tempt the LORD your God, as ye tempted him in Massah. Ye shall diligently keep the commandments of the LORD your God, and his testimonies, and his statutes, which he hath commanded thee. 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, to cast out all thine enemies from before thee, as the Land hath spoken. And when thy son 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? Then thou shalt say unto thy son, We were Pharaoh’s bondmen in Egypt; and the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand: and the LORD showed signs and wonders, great and sore, upon Egypt, upon Pharaoh, and upon all his household, before our eyes: and he brought us out from thence, that he might bring us in, to give us the land which he sware unto our fathers. And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as it is at this day.
Oh, friends, it will be well when our boys and girls ask us questions like this, and when we can give such answers! The great lack of the age in which we live is obedience to God. “Modern thought” has flung off obedience to Divine Revelation; and even in matters relating to social morality, many men reject all idea of anything being commanded of God; they only judge by what appears to them to be either pleasurable or profitable. What is most needed just now is that we ourselves, and those about us, become really conscious of the greatness and sovereignty of God, and yield ourselves to him to do as he bids us, when he bids us, where he bids us, and in all things to seek to follow his commandments that he may “preserve us alive, as it is at this day.”
Deu_6:25. And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the LORD our God, as he hath commanded us.
That would have been Israel’s righteousness if the people had observed to do all these commandments before the Lord; but it was marred and spoilt by disobedience. We rejoice to know that we who believe in Jesus have a righteousness unto which Israel did not attain, for the Lord Jesus Christ himself is our righteousness.