Deuteronomy 1:1 These are the words Moses spoke to all Israel in the wilderness east of the Jordan.
The book of Deuteronomy was written by Moses for the people of God around 1406 BC, while the nation camped in the land of Moab just outside the Promised Land. In a series of speeches, Moses reviewed the covenant God made with Israel forty years earlier. The first generation had died, and a new generation needed to hear God’s word before entering the Promised Land. There is little that is new in Deuteronomy, but it is quoted in the New Testament over forty times. Moses knew he would die soon, and this is his farewell address.
Deuteronomy 6:4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
There is only one God: the creator of all that exists. This conviction made Israel unique among surrounding nations that worshipped many gods. Whenever Israel turned to other gods, they became weak. But when they trusted the one true and living God, they became strong. It is wonderful to know that this same God has become our heavenly Father through faith in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:5).
Deuteronomy 6:5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
Jesus identified this as the first and greatest commandment (Matthew 22:38). That makes it more important than anything else we do, including feeding our children. The reason God wants us to love him with all our heart, soul and strength, is because that is how he loves us. What God wants most from his people is a true and loving relationship.
We should express our love for God through prayer, obedience and service, but they are not the same as love. Genuine love for God includes an affectionate yearning for more of him. This means turning away from whatever displeases him, and drawing ever closer to him. If we truly desire more of God, we are on the right track, even if our hearts are dry at times.
Deuteronomy 6:6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.
It is not enough to have the word of God in our head—Satan has that. Nor is it enough to merely believe the word of God, or even obey the word of God. We must have it on our heart: the place affection. In fact, we should have the same affection for the word of God that we have for God himself. A good indication of how we feel about God is how we feel about his word.
If I told my wife I loved her, but had no interest in listening to her, she would have reason to doubt my sincerity. Likewise, If we do not love God’s word, our love for God should be called into question.
Deuteronomy 6:7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
I was hiking up a trail, some time ago, and passed a family on its way down. As we passed, a little girl ask her father this question: If God is loving, why did he allow so many bad things to happen to Job? (Job 1:1-2:8).
That is a very good question, especially from a child. What impressed me most, however, was how naturally it occurred in their conversation. The Bible was so important to them that it wasn’t reserved for church alone, or even for family devotions. It was naturally discussed as they were out for a hike.
Deuteronomy 6:12 [B]e careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
When God’s people came out of Egyptian slavery, he led them in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night (Numbers 14:14). All they had to do was look, and they could see a visible manifestation of God. That would change, however, after they entered the Promised Land. The people would all spread out, and would no longer see the sign of God’s presence. So Moses reminded them not to forget the Lord.
A godly man was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, so he wrote down everything on note cards. Turn off the stove, check the mail and flush the toilet, were a few of the notes he wrote to himself. But his condition grew worse, and the notes did not help very much. So he wrote a final note on his hand, and copied it over daily: Remember God.
There are many things in our busy lives that compete with God for our attention. But if we remember God each morning, through prayer and Bible study, he will never be far from our thoughts.
Deuteronomy 6:18 Do what is right and good in the Lord’s sight, so that it may go well with you.
Since God determines the quality of our lives, it is always wise to obey him. Under the old covenant, God promised to bless his people if they were obedient, and to punish them if they were disobedient (Deuteronomy 28). Since rewards and punishments could come quickly, Moses encouraged God’s people to do the right thing.
Following Christ often involves hardship (John 16:33), but this principle still applies. [G]odliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come (1 Timothy 4:8), wrote Paul. If we Do what is right and good in the Lord’s sight, we might be surprised by all the good he does for us.
Reflection and Review
Why does God want us to love him deeply?
Why do some people forget about God?
How has serving God improved your life?