Book of Deuteronomy Chapter Six Commentary by
Pastor Ron Beckham
Verses 1-3: "Now this is the commandment, the statutes and the judgments which the Lord your God has commanded me to teach you, that you might do them in the land where you are going over to possess it, 2 so that you and your son and your grandson might fear the Lord your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged. 3 O Israel, you should listen and be careful to do it, that it may be well with you and that you may multiply greatly, just as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey." These verses are NOT directing all of us to attack some land or another; instead they DO show that God has purpose and direction for His people. After we place our faith in the Lord, we begin to experience what can be called "nudges" in our hearts, encouraging us to act in certain ways that involve righteousness. For example, He calls us to study His Word. The Lord is calling to you and me individually, just as He has done through the centuries that have preceded us. He has carefully placed blessings, a sort of "milk and honey" now and forever, into the lives of those who respond to His call. Our faith will draw others and God intends that people of faith will "multiply greatly" in numbers and in love.
Verses 4-5: "Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might." There were similar but differing Hebrew words which could have been used for the "one" reference in Verse 4, including "yaheed" and "echad." The first refers to an absolute one that cannot be divided. The second, chosen here by the Holy Spirit through Moses, is one with a plurality of parts...an egg has a shell, white and yolk...God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The word "hear" is "schema" (schma) in Hebrew and this famous verse is called the "Schema" of Israel. Verse 5 was quoted by Jesus in places like Matthew 22:37-40, also incorporating Leviticus 19:18 (love your neighbor), as the "great... commandments" of the Law. Humanity is divided in every way possible, and even though God's intention is for the two in marriage to become "one flesh" (Matthew 19:5), it's obvious that as humans, we aren't so good at doing what we're supposed to do, whether in marriage, church, business or nations. We need the Lord and His righteousness.
Verses 6-11: "These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. 10 Then it shall come about when the Lord your God brings you into the land which He swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you, great and splendid cities which you did not build, 11 and houses full of all good things which you did not fill, and hewn cisterns which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant, and you eat and are satisfied,"—these verses are actually about "Cause and Effect"—everything that happens is caused by someone or something that happened before. It's sad that most tend to miss the most important Cause of all—God Himself, who tenderly and carefully created each one of us to be just what we are. Our abilities, our limitations, strengths and weaknesses, the intervening forces that seem to change everything—lead us to faith in the Lord. The reason so many have cried out, "How could a good God allow... (and we can fill in our own losses here)... how could He let it happen? First we note that his values are higher than ours. We saw His intention in Verse 5: We are to have faith in the Lord, expressed by loving Him who loves us, trusting and responding to Him in every circumstance of our lives. We are to live in His love to the extent that our children and others will see Him in us and want Him, too. We are to study and be open to His written Word, the Bible, as revealed by His Holy Spirit, and find the spiritual "land" He has in store for each of His faithful ones. Jesus later said, "He who believes in Me... out of his heart will flow rivers of living water" (John 7:38). We will be "satisfied" by His work in our lives.
Verses 12-16: "then watch yourself, that you do not forget the Lord who brought you from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 13 You shall fear only the Lord your God; and you shall worship Him and swear by His name. 14 You shall not follow other gods, any of the gods of the peoples who surround you, 15 for the Lord your God in the midst of you is a jealous God; otherwise the anger of the Lord your God will be kindled against you, and He will wipe you off the face of the earth. 16 You shall not put the Lord your God to the test, as you tested Him at Massah." The Word of God, the Holy Spirit and the circumstances of your life are designed to bring you to the Lord. Israel suffered during four hundred long years of abject slavery in Egypt, but many who had not personally known the difficult circumstances of their ancestors, were already beginning to forget the One who rescued their parents. Our only hope in life is the grace of God, operative through faith in the Lord. Placing fame, money, relationships or whatever ahead of worshiping Him, will lead to our destruction. Therefore the Lord jealously guards you from the harmful unbelief expressed by worshiping things of this world. He will literally destroy what we value in order to win our souls, intending that in our losses we will call out to Him. Our sinful ways do indeed anger God. "Massah" is seen in Exodus 17:1-7, a place where Israel "tested" the Lord, grumbling that He would not satisfy their need for water in a thirsty land.
Verses 17-19: "You should diligently keep the commandments of the Lord your God, and His testimonies and His statutes which He has commanded you. 18 You shall do what is right and good in the sight of the Lord, that it may be well with you and that you may go in and possess the good land which the Lord swore to give your fathers, 19 by driving out all your enemies from before you, as the Lord has spoken." The Book of Deuteronomy was spoken and written during the last 30-days or so of Moses' life. He knew God was about to take him out of leadership, out of this world altogether, and so, at the direction of the Lord, he either wrote the words and then read them aloud to the people, or he spoke them and they were written by his then-secretary, Joshua. Here he reminds Israel to diligently keep God's Law of righteousness, as expressed to them in Deuteronomy 5. They were to worship God, avoid idolatry, reverence God's name, observe the Sabbath, honor parents, and avoid murder, adultery, theft, lying and coveting. If humanity kept God's laws, the world would obviously be a better place, and a direct result for ancient Israel would include the land promised them by the Lord.
Verses 20-23: "When your son asks you in time to come, saying, ‘What do the testimonies and the statutes and the judgments mean which the Lord our God commanded you?’ 21 then you shall say to your son, ‘We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt, and the Lord brought us from Egypt with a mighty hand.' 22 Moreover, the Lord showed great and distressing signs and wonders before our eyes against Egypt, Pharaoh and all his household; 23 He brought us out from there in order to bring us in, to give us the land which He had sworn to our fathers.’" The human tendency of parents and other family members is to put themselves and their heritage into the best light possible. I still don't know what my grandmother was hiding by saying "I won't tell you," when I asked about our heritage. And here is God's intention for us all: We are to pray for God's guidance and then be honest with our children and others. We are not only open about our mistakes, but also tell them of God's deliverance in our messy lives. Israel was to tell their children: "We were the slaves of foreigners in Egypt." A smug alternative could have been: "one of our ancestors was Joseph, who became Governor of Egypt," but that would not sufficiently reveal God's hand of deliverance. We are all sinners (Romans 3:23) and He is the one who delivers us from sin and death (Romans 6:23)
Verses 24-25: "So the Lord commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God for our good always and for our survival, as it is today. 25 It will be righteousness for us if we are careful to observe all this commandment before the Lord our God, just as He commanded us." Almighty God is infinitely higher than we are. He reveals in Isaiah 55:8-9, "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts." He is utterly perfect, holy in all His ways, and we are not. To "fear" Him is to recognize who He is and then fall before Him in reverence. We are to live clean, good lives, and when we place our faith in the Lord, He actually comes into us, bringing the Holy Spirit into the center of our being. Any righteousness we might think we have is not enough—His righteousness is what we need. Jesus died for us, and as we learn in places like 2 Corinthians 5:21, "He (the Father) made Him who knew no sin (the Son) to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."
Father, I need You. I need the righteousness that only You can bring to me. I confess my sins and I trust in You. Please fill me with Your Holy Spirit and lead me in the path of righteousness. In Jesus Name. Amen.