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Deeper Commentary

 

Deu 6:1 Now these are the commandments-
Dt. 6:1 RV reads: "Now this is the commandment [singular], the statutes and the judgments… the Lord our God is one" (:4). And then they are told to write the statutes on their door posts etc. It would have been hard to literally write all 613 of them there. Yet the whole way of life for Israel was epitomized in the single command… that God is one. It was and is a command; not a mere statement; and it was this they were to speak to their children about and continually meditate upon. Thus the unity of God is even today a summary of all God's desires and requirements for us, that He should be the one and only in our lives, with all this means in practice. The Jewish zealots who died at Massada had as their battle cry "the Lord our God is one!", and some time later Rabbi Akiba was flayed alive by the Romans, crying as the skin was stripped from his bones: "The Lord is one; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might". And there are many accounts from the Holocaust of similar things.

The statutes and the ordinances which Yahweh your God commanded to teach you, that you might do them in the land which you go over to possess-
Dt. 6:1,2,6,7 stress that Israel must do the law so that their children would do it also. Whilst on one hand we each have sovereign free will, there can be no doubt that we are affected by others.

"Drive out" is s.w. "possess". We must note the difference between the  Canaanite peoples and their kings being "struck" and their land "taken" by Joshua-Jesus; and the people of Israel permanently taking possession. This is the difference between the Lord's victory on the cross, and our taking possession of the Kingdom. Even though that possession has been "given" to us. The word used for "possession" is literally 'an inheritance'. The allusion is to the people, like us, being the seed of Abraham. The Kingdom was and is our possession, our inheritance- if we walk in the steps of Abraham. But it is one thing to be the seed of Abraham, another to take possession of the inheritance; and Israel generally did not take possession of all the land (Josh. 11:23 13:1; 16:10; 18:3; 23:4). The language of inheritance / possession is applied to us in the New Testament (Eph. 1:11,14; Col. 3:24; Acts 20:32; 26:18; 1 Pet. 1:4 etc.). Israel were promised: "You shall possess it" (Dt. 30:5; 33:23). This was more of a command than a prophecy, for sadly they were "given" the land but did not "possess" it. They were constantly encouraged in the wilderness that they were on the path to possessing the land (Dt. 30:16,18; 31:3,13; 32:47), but when they got there they didn't possess it fully.

Deu 6:2 in order that you might fear Yahweh your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, yes you, your son and your son’s son, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged-
The commandments were given in order to be obeyed (:1), so that they would keep the commandments. This at first blush appears circular reasoning. But rather the idea is of an upward spiral of spirituality, whereby obedience led to obedience. The various laws were designed to be self reinforcing, which is why the law was "perfect", and was not to be added to nor subtracted from. The intention was that obedience to the commandments elicited a spirit of life which was spiritual, and which facilitated further obedience and spirituality.

Deu 6:3 Hear therefore, Israel, and observe to do it, so that it may be well with you and that you may increase mightily, as Yahweh the God of your fathers has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey-
It's been observed that the phrase "The God of [somebody]", or similar, occurs 614 times in the Old Testament, of which 306 are in Deuteronomy. Our very personal relationship with God was therefore something else which Moses came to grasp in his spiritual maturity.

Moses really wanted Israel's well-being, he saw so clearly how obedience would result in blessing (e.g. Dt. 6:3; 12:28). This is a major theme of Moses in Deuteronomy. There was therefore a real sense of pleading behind his frequent appeal for Israel to "hear" or obey God's words. "Hear, O Israel" in Deuteronomy must have had a real passion behind it in his voice, uncorrupted as it was by old age. He didn't rattle it off as some kind of Sunday School proof. At least four times Moses interrupts the flow of his speech with this appeal: "Hear [‘be obedient’], O Israel" (Dt. 5:1; 6:3,4; 9:1; 20:3). And a glance through a concordance shows how often in Deuteronomy Moses pleads with them to hear God's voice. So he was back to his favourite theme: Hear the word, love the word, make it your life. For in this is your salvation. And the Lord Jesus (e.g. in passages like Jn. 6) makes just the same urgent appeal.  

Israel came to describe the Egypt they had been called out from as the land flowing with milk and honey (Num. 16:12), and denied that the Kingdom was in fact like that. And so we have the same tendency to be deceived into thinking that the kingdoms of this world, the world around us, is effectively the Kingdom of God, the only thing worth striving after.


Deu 6:4 Hear, Israel: Yahweh is our God; Yahweh is one-
The fact there is only one God means that He is to have our total loyalty and love (:5). If there were two gods, each would have 50%. But the one God demands our total devotion. That God is one is a command, an imperative to action (Mk. 12:28,29). It underlies the whole law and prophets (Mt. 22:40)- it's that fundamental. If there were two Gods, Yahweh would only demand half our energies. Nothing can be given to anything else; for there is nothing else to give to. There's only one God. There can be no idolatry in our lives, because there is only one God (2 Kings 19:18,19). Because "there is none else, you shall keep therefore his statutes" (Dt. 4:39,40). The Hebrew text of Dt. 6:4 suggests: "The Lord is our God, the Lord is one", thereby linking Yahweh's unity with His being our God, the sole Lord and unrivalled Master of His people. It also links the first principle of the unity of God with that of the covenant to Abraham; for "I will be their God" was one of the features of the covenant. The one God has only one people; not all religious systems can lead to the one Hope of Israel.

Dt. 6:4 is far more than a Sunday School text. Indeed God is one; but consider the context. Moses has set the people up to expect him to deliver them a long list of detailed commands; he has told them that God told him to declare unto them "all the commandments… that they may do them… ye shall observe to do therefore as the Lord your God hath commanded you… ye shall walk in all the ways which the Lord your God hath commanded you… now these are the commandments… that ye might do them… hear therefore O Israel and observe to do it [singular]…". Now we expect him to reel off a long list of commands. But Moses mirrors that last phrase with simply: "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one" (Dt. 5:31-6:4). And in this context he gives no other commandments. "Observe to do it" is matched with "The Lord our God is one". This is the quintessence of all the commands of God. And he goes straight on to say: "And these words…shall be in your heart" and they were to talk of them to their children in the house and by the way, bind them upon their hands and on the posts of their homes. Some Jewish traditions, perhaps correctly, place the shema, "Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is one" in their phylacteries. And this is indeed the context. It was the unity of God and the imperative from it to love Him with all the heart which is what was to be programmatic for their daily living. This is why it was Jewish practice to recite the shema several times a day, and also on their deathbed.

The record in Mk. 12:32 presents an obviously monotheistic Jewish scribe as being in complete agreement with the Lord Jesus about the unity of God. The Lord Jesus evidently supported the Old Testament's strict monotheism. When Jesus speaks of His Father as "the one who alone is God" (Jn. 5:44 NRSV), He is evidently alluding to the classic statement of monotheism in Dt. 6:4- that Yahweh is the one God. And the inspired writers of the New Testament did the same thing. James commented to Jews upon their belief in one God: "You believe that God is one. You do well" (James 2:19). He doesn't seek to correct their monotheism. Why, if the Trinity issue was so utterly vital and obvious?


Deu 6:5 and you shall love Yahweh your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might-
Some time, read through the book of Deuteronomy in one or two sessions. You'll see many themes of Moses in Deuteronomy. It really shows how Moses felt towards Israel, and how the Lord Jesus feels towards us, and especially how he felt towards us just before his death. For this is what the whole book prefigures. "Love" and the idea of love occurs far more in Deuteronomy than in the other books of the Law. "Fear the Lord your God" of Ex. 9:30; Lev. 19:14,32; 25:17 becomes "love the Lord your God" in Deuteronomy (Dt. 6:5; 7:9; 10:12; 11:1; 19:9; 30:6,16,20). There are 23 references to not hating in Deuteronomy, compared to only 5 in Ex. - Num.; Moses saw the danger of bitterness and lack of love. He saw these things as the spiritual cancer they are, in his time of maturity he warned his beloved people against them. His mind was full of them. The LXX uses the word ekklesia eight times in Deuteronomy, but not once in Moses' other words (Dt. 4:10; 9:10; 18:16; 23:1,2,3,8; 32:1). Responsibility for the whole family God had redeemed was a mark of Moses; maturity at the end of his life, at the time of Deuteronomy. It is observable that both as a community and as individuals, this will be a sign of our maturity too.

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might". Time and again, Moses in his final hours used these words, as he pleaded on that last day of his life for Israel to grasp the nettle, to take on board the idea of loving God, of giving our all (Dt. 6:5; 10:12; 11:13,22; 13:3; 19:9; 30:6 ; an impressive seven-fold emphasis). I can almost hear his voice cracking as he stressed the word "all" . Having pleaded six times for them to love God with all their soul and all their might, Moses then makes the point that if they enter the Kingdom, there they will be made by God to love Him then with all their soul and might (Dt. 30:6). The logic is over-powering. In the Kingdom, our very nature, every fiber of our being, will be bent towards love of God. If this will be our eternal destiny, isn't it logical that we at least aspire to it now? Statistical analysis of the word "love" in the Pentateuch likewise reveals that "love" was a great theme of Moses at the end of his life (Moses uses it 16 times in Deuteronomy, and only four times in Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers).

Loving Yahweh with all the heart, soul and mind was understood by Joshua as meaning that those who loved Yahweh would not "mix with" and intermarry with the nations and accept their gods (Josh. 23:11,12,16). "Love" for God was not therefore a feeling; Joshua said that they must "take good heed therefore to yourselves, that you love Yahweh" (Josh. 23:11). This is the love of conscious direction of the mind, the love which is a choice rather than an emotion.    


Deu 6:6 These words which I command you this day shall be on your heart-
Time and again, Moses speaks of the state of their heart. He warns them against allowing a bad state of heart to develop, he speaks often of how apostasy starts in the heart. Moses makes a total of 49 references to the heart / mind of Israel in Deuteronomy, compared to only 13 in the whole of Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers. This indicates the paramount importance which our Lord attaches to the state of our mind. This was perhaps his greatest wish as He faced death; that we should develop a spiritual mind and thereby manifest the Father and come to salvation. Moses likewise saw the state of our mind as the key to spiritual success. But do we share this perspective? Do we guard our minds against the media and influence of a mind-corrupting world? It's been observed that the phrase "The God of [somebody]", or similar, occurs 614 times in the Old Testament, of which 306 are in Deuteronomy. Our very personal relationship with God was therefore something else which Moses came to grasp in his spiritual maturity. Statistical analysis of the word "love" in the Pentateuch likewise reveals that "love" was a great theme of Moses at the end of his life (Moses uses it 16 times in Deuteronomy, and only four times in Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers).

The names of God's people are in the heart of the Lord Jesus, our great High Priest (Ex. 28:29); just as God's words are to be upon the hearts of His people (Dt. 6:6). Through the medium of His word, there is thus a mutuality between God and man.


Deu 6:7 and you must teach them diligently to your children and talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way, when you lie down and when you rise up-
The latter day repentant remnant will be characterized by talking to each other of spiritual things (Mal. 3:16 cp. Dan. 12:2), especially of the law (Mal. 3:7). But we are to do this now in our day of opportunity, and not be forced to it by tribulation. The priests were the official teachers of Israel, but it was ever God's intention that all Israel should be priests. All under the new covenant are declared priests (1 Pet. 2:5). All Israel were to be teaching each other (Jer. 31:34), especially their children- not leaving it to others, nor over relying upon a priesthood or spiritual eldership to teach their children. This is a myth inadvertently created by the Sunday School movement, excellent and commendable as that movement is- that a child is sent to "Sunday School" and there learns God's ways. The real teaching is done sitting in the house and walking by the way, and not by specialist teachers. The specific reference to teaching when you lie down and rise up could suggest that God specifically intended His people to teach their children, every morning and every evening. This is the essence of family life in the Lord.


Deu 6:8 You shall bind them for a sign on your hand and they shall be for memorials between your eyes-
As taught in Dt. 6:6, the essence was that "These words which I command you this day shall be on your heart". The heart refers to the mind, the brain, if you will; and we could understand this as meaning that this was to be externally memorialized by binding them between the eyes. This is how orthodox Judaism understands it. But I suggest that the memorial was essentially in the heart, and this is just another way of speaking about the wholeness of internal and external devotion to God's words. Whatever is done externally with the hand, whatever is thought about in our mind between our eyes, is to be dominated by our awareness of God's laws. We fail to read in later scripture any mention of literally making boxes containing God's law and wearing them. The Passover deliverance was likewise to be a "frontlet" (s.w. "memorial") between the eyes and upon the hand (Ex. 13:16); but not in any literal sense. They were to be ever mentally aware of their great salvation, and live accordingly. 

Contemporary ideas about Satan, demons etc. are often alluded to in the Pentateuch, and Israel are given the true understanding. Wearing a phylactery wasn't a new concept; the idea "refers to amulets which were worn in order to protect their wearers against demons". So by giving this command, Israel's God was showing His people that instead of being on the defensive against demons, needing good luck charms against them, they should instead replace these by a positive remembrance of God's words in their hearts and actions. Rejoicing in His salvation and constantly remembering it was intended to totally sideline the various false beliefs about demons which were prevalent at the time. It could be argued that God is saying that instead of the literal phylacteries of the pagan Gentile world, they were to have an internal mental awareness of their God.   


Deu 6:9 You shall write them on the door posts of your house and on your gates-
Writing God's laws on door posts recalls the daubing of Passover lamb blood on the door posts. Indeed at Passover time, the faithful Israelite would have painted over the laws of Moses with the blood of the Passover lamb. This was looking ahead to how those laws were to be blotted out by the Lord's sacrifice. It was perhaps also to remind them that the blood of the Passover lamb, shed for their salvation, was an imperative to their obedience to God's laws. And again we see contemporary religious ideas deconstructed; for "It was the custom of the ancient Egyptians to inscribe on lintels and door-posts sentences of good omen". Such good luck charms were to be replaced with realistic practical calls for obedience in real life; for this was the basis of Divine blessing, and not good luck charms.


Deu 6:10 When Yahweh your God brings you into the land which He swore to your fathers to give you, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, great and good cities which you didn’t build-
This continues the repeated reminder that they had been shown grace and a place in the Kingdom not according to works. This emphasis upon grace now leads up to the appeal to quit any other gods (:14)- because Yahweh alone is the God of grace. The other gods had no concept of this; it was unique to Yahweh. And true grace is likewise the unique feature of true Christianity. 

Jonah 2:8 reflects Jonah's understanding of this: "Those who regard lying vanities forsake their own mercy". This is a profound truth; true grace ["mercy" is hesed] and salvation is only found in Yahweh the God of Israel. To forsake Him is to forsake our own access to mercy and grace. Jonah was surely reflecting upon how the sailors had begged their idols and gods for salvation, and not found it. Only Yahweh had provided such saving grace, both to them and to Jonah. This reflection was surely to motivate Jonah to now go and try to persuade the Ninevites of Yahweh's grace. Jonah is constantly quoting from the Psalms, and here he may have in mind Ps. 31:6: "I have hated them that regard lying vanities". But now Jonah doesn't hate the idolaters personally, but rather perceives the tragedy of the fact that they are rejecting their own access to Yahweh's grace. Yahweh is all about mercy, or grace; again, Ps. 59:17 "the God of my mercy" is in mind. But we preclude His grace if we trust in the lying vanities of this world.


Deu 6:11 houses full of all good things which you didn’t fill, and wells dug out which you didn’t dig, vineyards and olive trees which you didn’t plant, and you shall eat and be full-
The gift of these things to Israel was by God's grace- for He could have commanded them to destroy all such vineyards. They were intended to learn from this grace, that works cannot save, and our blessings are a pure gift from God rather than achieved by our works. But instead they forgot Yahweh (:12) and turned to justification by religious works, because they had refused to be awed by His grace.


Deu 6:12 then beware lest you forget Yahweh, who brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage-
Israel never became atheists, they never formally abrogated Yahweh, never formally rejected Him. But they forgot Him, in that in daily life they forgot the wonder of His grace, especially in His historical salvation of them. And it is day by day spiritual mindedness which is the context here. The exit from Egypt is described as a jail break, from the house of bondage. Their desire to return to it was strong, and so Moses continually stresses the true and awful nature of Egypt / the world. The language echoes that of God to Abraham: "I am Yahweh who brought you out of Ur" (Gen. 15:7). They were being asked to act as Abraham's seed, and respond as He did to the Divine initiative in separating them from the world- by following His commandments. 


Deu 6:13 You must fear Yahweh your God and you shall serve Him and shall swear by His name-
Lk. 4:8 records how “Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve”. He understood that we can only serve two masters: God or the flesh (“mammon” is another personification of the flesh, similar to ‘satan’). He saw His own flesh, His own internal thoughts, as a master begging to be served which He must totally reject. His words are a quotation from Dt. 6:13, which warns Israel to serve Yahweh alone and not idols. He perceived His own natural mind and desire as an idol calling to be served.


Deu 6:14 You must not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are around you-
The Lord quoted Dt. 6:13 against His wilderness temptations “You shalt fear the Lord your God (alone)”. He probably had Dt. 6:14 in mind “You shall not go after other gods”. Perhaps He interpreted the pagan idols as the evil thoughts of His heart. Earlier Dt. 6:7,8 had warned that not repeating the Law would result in idol worship – and Christ saw that His neglect of the Father’s word would result in His serving His evil desires. Thus the purpose of the temptations was to prove whether Christ would really keep and apply the word in His heart (Dt. 8:2), as it was for Israel in their wilderness.

"Go after" is a phrase Moses frequently uses in his last speech in Deuteronomy, but not elsewhere. It means literally to follow or walk after. He warns against going after other gods (Dt. 4:3; 6:14; 8:19; 11:28; 13:2; 28:14), and urges following / walking behind / going after Yahweh alone (Dt. 13:4). I suggest he was reflecting upon how by following after Yahweh in the Angel, the people had been brought out of Egypt, through the wilderness and to the promised kingdom. Caleb had faithfully followed / walked after Yahweh, and so entered the land. The phrase is used of the people following after the ark to enter Canaan (Josh. 3:3; 6:9). Following after idols led them just to pointless wandering in circles. And so it is in human life today. Following idols leads to pointless wandering, whereas following Yahweh has a specific destination in view- possession of the Kingdom. Elijah uses the phrase when telling Israel they could either follow after Baal, or Yahweh; and if Yahweh is God, then we are to follow Him (1 Kings 18:21). We cannot follow two directions. But Israel followed after (s.w.) vanity and thereby became vain (2 Kings 17:15). They carried the tabernacle of Moloch and also of Yahweh, throughout the wilderness journey (Acts 7:). Following after Baal is paralleled with following / walking after the imagination of their own evil heart (s.w. Jer. 3:17; 9:14; 13:10), walking after their own spirit rather than God's (Ez. 13:3 s.w.) and their own covetousness (s.w. Ez. 33:31). To walk / live just according to the word of our own imaginations is our great temptation. But we are to instead follow God's imaginations and heart, as revealed in His word (Ez. 20:16 s.w.). This is where our acceptance of the word of God as indeed His word... has endless implications.


Deu 6:15 for Yahweh your God in the midst of you is a jealous God; otherwise the anger of Yahweh your God shall be kindled against you and He shall destroy you from off the face of the land-
Like Paul in his time of dying, Moses in Deuteronomy saw the importance of obedience, the harder side of God; yet he also saw in real depth the surpassing love of God, and the grace that was to come, beyond Law. This appreciation reflected Moses' mature grasp of the Name / characteristics of God. He uses the name "Yahweh" in Deuteronomy over 530 times, often with some possessive adjective, e.g. "Yahweh thy God" [AV- i.e. you singular], or "Yahweh our God". He saw the personal relationship between a man and his God. Jacob reached a like realization at his peak.

Israel is so often set up as the bride of God (Is. 54:5; 61:10; 62:4,5; Jer. 2:2; 3:14; Hos. 2:19,20). This is why any infidelity to God is spoken of as adultery (Mal. 2:11; Lev. 17:7; 20:5,6; Dt. 31:16; Jud. 2:17; 8:27,33; Hos. 9:1). The language of Israel 'selling themselves to do iniquity' uses the image of prostitution. This is how God feels our even temporary and fleeting acts and thoughts of unfaithfulness. This is why God is jealous for us (Ex. 20:15; 34:14; Dt. 4:24; 5:9; 6:15)- because His undivided love for us is so exclusive. He expects us to be totally His. Just as Israel were not to be like the Egyptians they were leaving, nor like the Canaanites into whose land they were going (Lev. 18:1-5; 20:23,24). We are to be a people separated unto Him.

If God's wrath burns hot against people, it means death for them (s.w. Ex. 22:24; Num. 11:1,33; 22:22; 25:3; Dt. 6:15; 31:17). But Moses averted this at the time of Ex. 32:10 by his intercession. He does so because God's wrath had burned hot against him personally (Ex. 4:14 s.w.), but he had been saved from death by grace. And so he reflects this in appealing for he salvation of others, against whom God's wrath burned hot (Ex. 32:10.11). But Moses at the end of his life warns them not to make God's wrath burn hot against them again- because he will not be around to intercede for them (Dt. 6:15; 7:4; 11:17).


Deu 6:16 You must not test Yahweh your God as you tested Him in Massah-
Meditate upon scripture as you go around daily life. Israel were told: "Ye (plural) shall not tempt the Lord". The Lord Jesus personalized this to Himself, and quoted it as: "Thou (singular) shalt not tempt the Lord" (Dt. 6:16 cp. Mt. 4:7). He told the Jews that when it is written "I am the God of Abraham", this was God speaking unto them personally ("...which was spoken unto you by God, saying..."), teaching them personally that there would be a resurrection (Mt. 22:31).

At the very time Israel put God to the test at Marah (Dt. 6:16), God responded by testing them (Ex. 15:25). When Israel were weary of God, He wearied them (Is. 43:22,24). Because they turned their back on Him (Jer. 2:27), He turned His back on them (Jer. 18:17); because they broke His eternal covenant with them, He eventually did likewise. On the other hand, God set the rainbow in the sky so that whenever He looks upon it, He will remember His covenant with man (Gen. 9:16). The pronouns seem wrong; we would expect to read that the rainbow is so that whenever we look upon it, we remember... but no. God condescends to man to such an extent that He invites us to understand that whenever we remember the covenant with Him, He does likewise.  

God comes down to the terms and language of men in His zeal to save. He invites the Jews to put Him to the test: if they paid their tithes, He would bless them with fruitful harvest (Mal. 3:10). And yet surely the whole message of God’s revelation is that we are to accept His hand in our lives, that obedience won’t automatically bring blessing now, that we are not to put our God to the test (Dt. 6:16 cp. Mt. 4:7) but to trust in Him and the coming of His Kingdom to resolve all things. And yet Yahweh seems to come down from these high principles in Malachi’s time, to try to convince them of the logic of devotion to Him.

Ahaz quoted these words about not testing God. "The pride that apes humility" says all that is necessary. We can appear to be humble, and by doing so actually express our pride. The point has been made elsewhere that a brother may say to a sister full of praise for his Bible study: "It was nothing really, no, not that good". But if another sister says to him: "I thought your Bible study was nothing really, not much good at all"; how does he react? Did he really mean his 'humble' words to his admirer? Ahaz is one of many Biblical examples of this kind of false humility. He refused to ask a sign of Yahweh, when invited to, lest he be like apostate Israel in the wilderness, and tempt Yahweh (Is. 7:12 cp. Dt. 6:16). But this was actually a 'wearying' of God, and he was given a sign relating to his condemnation (Is. 7:12,13).


Deu 6:17 You must diligently keep the commandments of Yahweh your God and His testimonies and His statutes which He has commanded you-
The word so often used for "diligently observing" Yahweh's commandments is from the word meaning a thorn hedge; the idea originally was to hedge in. Taking this too literally led Judaism to all their endless fences around the law, i.e. forbidding this or that because it might lead to doing that or this, which in turn would then lead to breaking an actual commandment. And those various fences become elevated to the level of commandments. But this is not the idea. We are indeed to hedge ourselves in ("take heed to yourself", Dt. 11:16; 12:13,19,30,32 s.w.), so that we may keep / hedge ourselves in to keep the commandments of God (Lev. 18:4,5,26,30; 19:19,37; 20:8,22; 22:9,31; 25:18; 26:3; Num. 28:2; Dt. 7:11,12; 8:1,11 [s.w. "beware"]; 10:13; 11:1,8,22,32; 12:1; 13:4,18; 15:5,9 ["beware"]; 17:19; 19:9; 23:9 ["keep yourself"]; 24:8; 26:16-18; 27:1; 28:1,9,13; 29:9; 30:10,16; 31:12; 32:46). And without falling into the legalism of Judaism, self discipline does require a degree of fencing ourselves in to the one way. Thus the man struggling with alcoholism avoids the supermarket where alcohol is pushed in front of the eyes of the shoppers; the married woman struggling with attraction to another man makes little laws for herself about avoiding his company. And if we do this, then the Lord will "keep" us, will hedge us in to keeping His way (s.w. Num. 6:24).


Deu 6:18 You must do that which is right and good in the sight of Yahweh, that it may be well with you and that you may go in and possess the good land which Yahweh swore to your fathers-
Having stated that the Canaanite tribes would only be cast out if Israel were obedient, Moses goes on to enthuse that those tribes would indeed be cast out- so positive was he about Israel’s obedience (Dt. 6:18,19; 7:1). And yet on the other hand he realistically was aware of their future failures. He said those positive words genuinely, because he simply loved Israel, and had the hope for them which love carries with it. Throughout his speech, Moses is constantly thinking of Israel in the land; he keeps on telling them how to behave when they are there, encouraging them to be strong so that they will go into the land. I estimate that about 25% of the verses in Moses' speech speak about this. Israel's future inheritance of the Kingdom absolutely filled Moses' mind as he faced up to his own death. And remember that his speech was the outpouring of 40 years meditation. Their salvation, them in the Kingdom, totally filled his heart. And likewise with the Lord Jesus. Psalms 22 and 69 shows how his thoughts on the cross, especially as he approached the point of death, were centred around our salvation. And Moses was so positive about them. “The Lord thy God shall bless thee in all thine increase, and in all the works of thine hands”, even though these blessings were conditional upon their obedience. Moses was this confident of them (Dt. 16:15 cp. 28:1,4,12).   

Israel had been told by Moses that their doing what was "good and right" was required for them to possess the land (Dt. 6:18; 12:28). The Gibeonites use the same phrase in appealing for Joshua to do what was "good and right" (Josh. 9:25) in not slaying them but accepting them into covenant relationship with Yahweh. The people generally didn't want to do this (Josh. 9:26). It seems God's providence used Joshua's initial unwisdom in order to give Joshua a chance to do what was "good and right", so that Israel could indeed possess Canaan. We marvel at how God works through human unwisdom and dysfunction, in order to achieve His final purpose of giving His people His Kingdom.

The Hebrew word for "spied out" in Dt. 1:24 also means 'to slander' (s.w. 2 Sam. 19:27; Ps. 15:3). Their slander of the land was in that they misrepresented the strength of the people there, who were in fact fearful of the Israelites. They brought up an evil report of the land (Num. 13:32), characterizing it as not "good" but "evil", as if inhabited by insuperable forces of cosmic evil. They disbelieved God's simple statement that He was bringing them a "good land" (Ex. 3:8). Moses therefore repeatedly calls the land a "good land", denying their wrong idea that the land was inhabited by 'evil spirits' (Dt. 3:25; 4:21,22; 6:18; 8:7; 9:6; 11:17). We see here how belief in 'evil spirits' or 'demons' militated against their faith in God and His eagerness to give His good Kingdom to His people. That continues to be His "good pleasure" (Lk. 12:32) toward us, but like Israel, we are tempted to disbelieve this and allow our own perceptions and empirical conclusions to lead us away from simple faith in this.


Deu 6:19 to thrust out all your enemies from before you, as Yahweh has spoken-
The thrusting out of Israel's enemies from the land was conditional upon Israel's obedience (Dt. 6:18,19). They were disobedient, and yet still God thrust out the tribes and warned them therefore not to think that this was done because of their righteousness (Dt. 9:4). It was by grace alone that they inherited the Kingdom, as with us. But there was always a tendency for Israel to forget that they had been given the Kingdom despite their lack of the required personal righteousness; they became over familiar with living in it under such grace. And so the warning comes down to us.  

Deu 6:20 When your son asks you in time to come, What do the testimonies, the statutes and the ordinances which Yahweh our God has commanded you mean?-
The Hebrew mishpat, "ordinances", has a wide range of meaning. The idea is of judgment, as if God and His Angels gave these laws as their considered judgment after considering the human condition, and Israel were to abide by them. But the word also the idea of a right or privilege; and that is how we should see God's laws. They are only felt as a burden because of human hardness of neck towards God's ways. His laws are not of themselves burdensome, but rather a privilege and blessing. The law was indeed "holy, just and good" (Rom. 7:12), designed to inculcate a holy, just and good life (Tit. 1:8), a way in which a man should "walk" in daily life (Lev. 18:4), a culture of kindness and grace to others which reflected God's grace to man. If we dwell upon the idea of "rights" carried within the word mishpat, we note that the law begins in Ex. 21:1,2 (also Dt. 15:12-18) with the rights of a slave- those considered to have no rights in the society of that day. The "rights" to be afforded by us to others are the essence of God's rightness / justice.  


Deu 6:21 then you shall tell your son, We were Pharaoh’s bondservants in Egypt and Yahweh brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand-
The might of Yahweh's hand was shown through His grace in as it were forcing Israel out of Egypt, when they actually wanted to remain there and He wished to destroy them (Ez. 20:8). They were idolatrous and had told Moses to leave them alone and let them serve the Egyptians. Yahweh's strength therefore refers to the power of His grace in continuing His program with them. 


Deu 6:22 and Yahweh showed great and awesome signs and wonders on Egypt, on Pharaoh and on all his house, before our eyes-
Subsequent generations were to consider that the wonder of redemption had been played out before their own eyes. There is a deep sense in human beings that history is bunk, or at best of merely passing historico-cultural interest, which the hurrying man of modern life has little serious time for. This is where Biblical history is so different; and it's why God's word in the Bible is in a sense all history. But it is history to live by, moment by moment. The implications of our redemption on a hill just outside Jerusalem, on a Friday afternoon, on a day in April... affect today and every day our every thought and action in secular life.


Deu 6:23 He brought us out from there, that He might bring us in, to give us the land which He swore to our fathers-
The meaning of ‘holiness’ is both to be separated from and separated unto. Separation isn’t only something negative; it’s more essentially something positive. We are separated from this world because we are separated unto the things of God’s Kingdom; the separation from is a natural, unpretended outcome of our involvement in the things of God’s Kingdom.  It’s not part of a cross which the believer must reluctantly, sacrificially bear. Like all spiritual growth, it is unaffected; the number of hours spent watching TV. goes down (to zero?) naturally; the friendships with the world  naturally frizzle out, the way we dress, the things we hope for and talk about... all these things will alter in their own time. Israel were brought out from Egypt through the Red Sea (cp. baptism) that they might be brought in to the land of promise (Dt. 6:23). The Nazarite was separated from wine, because he was separated unto the Lord (Num. 6:2,3).


Deu 6:24 Yahweh commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear Yahweh our God, for our good always, that He might preserve us alive-
A striking difference between the Pentateuch and other contemporary legal codes is that those codes are straight codices of statutes; whereas God's law isn't like that. It is commandment interspersed between historical documents and incidents. We read of some incident in the wilderness journey, then we have some commandments recounted, then another incident, some more commandments, etc. This surely reflects how God intended obedience to His law to not be a legalistic exercise- it was a code for real human life, which should affect the very spirit of human existence in a way which no dry legal code really could. It was to set a rhythm of life, revealing how that law was "for our good always, that God might preserve us" (Dt. 6:24)- the person who obeyed the law was to live in it (Hab. 2:4 etc.). The motive for obedience to the law was not so that God might give them salvation or status as His people- it was precisely because He had done that, by grace, that they were to respond in obedience (Ex. 12:26; 13:8,14; Dt. 6:20).

It might help if we try to visualize the practical benefits of keeping the laws. "In keeping of them is great reward", David commented (Ps. 19:11). Moses likewise: "The Lord commanded us to do all these statutes... for our good always" (Dt. 6:24)- not for their irritation, or as a pointless test of obedience. Perhaps this is why the giving of the Law is described as an expression of God's love for Israel (Dt. 33:2-4). It was the loving marriage contract between God and Israel. We must see the keeping of the law by the faithful Israelite as being done within a certain spiritual atmosphere. It would have been impossible to keep all those laws from a series of deliberate acts of the will. The truly obedient Israelite would have developed a way of life and thinking, a culture of kindness to others, which achieved obedience to them. This was surely how Jesus was able to perfectly fulfil the Law. "If a man do (the commands) he shall even live in them" (Lev. 18:5) seems to refer to this atmosphere of obedience.

As at this day-
Israel were to teach their children that God had personally saved them at the Red Sea. The covenant made with Israel then was made not only with the “fathers” who were then alive, but with every member of every generation of God’s people (Dt. 5:3; 6:20). In this sense, Biblical history is a living word to every generation.


Deu 6:25 It shall be righteousness to us if we observe to do all these commandments before Yahweh our God, as He has commanded us-
"Righteousness to us" is an Old Testament foretaste of Paul's teaching about imputed righteousness. For that is the idea here; not that they should congratulate themselves at their own righteousness in keeping Passover. But rather that remembering their deliverance with faith and gratitude would be counted to them as righteousness. The NIV in Tit. 1:1 speaks of "the truth which leads to Godliness". Thus true understanding is related to true Godly living- if we translate the doctrines into practice. The Passover would only be properly kept, Moses explained, if the meaning of it was understood (Dt. 6:20-25).