Deuteronomy 6

Deuteronomy 6

The Greatest Commandment

“Now this is the commandment—the statutes and the rules—that the LORD your God commanded me to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess it, that you may fear the LORD your God, you and your son and your son’s son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long. Hear therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them, that it may go well with you, and that you may multiply greatly, as the LORD, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey.

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, 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. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

“And when the LORD your God brings you into the land that he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you—with great and good cities that you did not build, and houses full of all good things that you did not fill, and cisterns that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive trees that you did not plant—and when you eat and are full, then take care lest you forget the LORD, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. It is the LORD your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by his name you shall swear. You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are around you—for the LORD your God in your midst is a jealous God—lest the anger of the LORD your God be kindled against you, and he destroy you from off the face of the earth.

“You shall not put the LORD your God to the test, as you tested him at Massah. You shall diligently keep the commandments of the LORD your God, and his testimonies and his statutes, which he has commanded you. And you shall do what is right and good in the sight of the LORD, that it may go well with you, and that you may go in and take possession of the good land that the LORD swore to give to your fathers by thrusting out all your enemies from before you, as the LORD has promised.

“When your son asks you in time to come, ‘What is the meaning of the testimonies and the statutes and the rules that the LORD our God has commanded you?’ then you shall say to your son, ‘We were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt. And the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. And the LORD showed signs and wonders, great and grievous, against Egypt and against Pharaoh and all his household, before our eyes. And he brought us out from there, that he might bring us in and give us the land that he swore to give to 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 we are this day. And it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to do all this commandment before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us.’


Deuteronomy 6 Commentary

by Brad Boyles

Here in Deuteronomy 6, we find the “shema.” The word itself means “hear” or “listen” and begins in verse 4.

“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.  6  “These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart.

Deuteronomy 6:4-6 NASB

However, in the context of Hebrew life, the word meant much more than just listening. It conveyed an urgency to pay attention, kind of like putting an exclamation point at the end of a sentence. It could also mean a response to what you hear. For those who followed our writings through the series of Psalms, you know that many of them began with “Listen!” This is the same word (shema) that we find here in verse 4 of Deuteronomy. So, in this way, the Psalms were crying out to God not only to listen but to act or respond.

Interestingly, we also see shema translated obey, such as this passage of Exodus.

‘Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine;  6  and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel.”

Exodus 19:5-6 NASB

God tells Israel that if they will shema shema (indeed obey) His voice and keep His covenant, then they will be His treasured possession. The double shema is used for emphasis.

The point of all this is that God views listening, hearing and obeying through the same lens! In many ways, hearing God’s voice and keeping the covenant are the same thing. In fact, within the Hebrew language, there is not a separate word for “obey.” Shema means “I hear what you say and I will do it.”

When you consider how many Christians today give God lip service, this is a fascinating discovery. Though we see listening and obeying as two different choices, the people of Israel would have viewed them as two sides of the same coin. To them, it would have been absolutely foolish to call yourself a follower of God but not live out His commandments.

This is why the prophets and Jesus Himself would say (to the Hebrew followers), “He who has ears, listen to what the Spirit is saying.” Obviously, Jesus doesn’t just mean we should listen but also take the words to heart and act upon them. Once you hear the truth, you are accountable to it. If you choose not to obey, you probably weren’t really listening in the first place, right?

So, ask yourself, are you hearing what the Lord is speaking to you through His Word? Do you only agree with the truth you are reading, or do you act upon it? Consider how ridiculous it would have been in the ancient world to hear and comprehend what God is speaking but never actually do anything about it. The same is true for us today. This is why the Christian church is full of hypocrites.

We have separated hearing from obedience and allowed ourselves to be deceived by focusing only on head knowledge. God’s desire is that you experience the fullness of His truth by allowing it to manifest a heart change within. If we say that we love the Lord will all our heart, all our soul, and all our might, do our actions fall in line with that statement?

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