Deuteronomy 6:4–14; 7:6–9comment (0)
January 26, 2012
By Dale Younce
Related Scripture: Deuteronomy 6:4–14; 7:6–9
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Professor of Christian Studies, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile
Deuteronomy 6:4–14; 7:6–9
Many of today’s adults grew up in families that encouraged and expected self-reliance. Such an approach to life has definite benefits, including building a person’s strength of character and self-confidence. Some adults, however, become so self-reliant and successful they fail to realize that the Lord is their source of life and well-being. Too many of these adults are Christians who know better and need to be reminded that everything they are and have — including their salvation — comes from the Lord. This week’s lesson features Moses exhorting the Israelites to love the Lord wholeheartedly and to never forget that He gave them all they have. The Scripture encourages us to passionately affirm the Lord as our source of life and well-being.
Love That Shows Priority (6:4–9)
These verses are the celebrated Shema (from the Hebrew word meaning “to hear”), which became the Jewish confession of faith. It is recited each morning and evening by devout Jews worldwide. Originally the Shema consisted of verse 4 alone, but it was later expanded to include verses 5–9, 11:13–21 and Numbers 15:37–41. The most likely translation of verse 4 is “Hear, O Israel, the Lord (Yahweh = Jehovah) is our God (Elohim), the Lord is one.” The statement stresses Yahweh’s uniqueness. In contrast to the pagan gods and goddesses in the ancient Middle East, Yahweh is totally unique; there is only one true God (Elohim) and Yahweh alone is God. The only God who really exists is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and His name is Yahweh.
For Christians, this confession of monotheism does not exclude the concept of the Trinity. Elohim is plural, perhaps implying the Trinity, and the Hebrew word translated “one” may suggest a unity of people in Elohim, as the word does in Genesis 2:24 in which husband and wife are said to be “one” flesh.
Yahweh’s uniqueness shuts out any other worship and demands an unreserved, wholehearted commitment, expressed in loving Him. Loving God is not an emotion or some exotic feeling. To love God means to choose Him for an intimate, personal relationship in which we worship and obey Him. Love is an act of the will, and our wholehearted response to God pervades the totality of our inner person. To love God and worship and serve Him are our highest privilege. Consequently, when the Lord commands us to love, He is inviting us to that which is best. This total devotion to the Lord was highlighted by Jesus when He labeled Deuteronomy 6:5 as the first and greatest commandment (Matt. 22:36–37).
The Israelites were to continuously meditate on and be directed by God’s word. It was to be the subject of conversation, inside and outside the home, from the first of the day to bedtime. Later in Jewish history, verse 8 was misunderstood; people tied little leather boxes containing these verses to their foreheads and left arms. They also attached a small container of Scripture, called a mezuzah, to every door in their house. As each person entered the house, he or she would reverently touch the mezuzah. However, without being insincere or showy, believers today can demonstrate, by means of their words, actions and attitudes, that the Lord has top priority in their lives.
Devotion That Never Forgets (6:10–14)
In this section and the next, Moses was looking ahead to challenges the Israelites would face after entering the promised land. He urged the Israelites never to forget that the Lord had brought them out of slavery and into a land of plenty in order that they might fear and worship Him alone. Believers today can show that their devotion is to the Lord alone by recalling what He has done for them whether in tough or prosperous times.
Grace That’s Undeserved (7:6–9)
Moses urged the Israelites to realize that the Lord delivered them from slavery and chose them as His holy people not because they were numerous but because of His covenant faithfulness and love. Believers today are right to be passionate in their relationship with the Lord because He has acted graciously to redeem them even though they did not deserve it.