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the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
Deuteronomy 6

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-3


Verses 1-3:

This is the prologue to the commandments Moses was about to deliver to Israel. In it he states the reason for obedience: that the people might enjoy the blessings of safety, peace, and prosperity in the Land God had promised to their fathers.

This text gives the basic reason for teaching. It is not to enable the pupil to acquire knowledge. It is:

(1) To do those things which are taught; to put knowledge taught into practice in one’s life.

(2) To fear (reverence) the Lord.

(3) To put His statutes and commandments into practice, to make them to be one’s way of life.

(4) To teach the succeeding generation the will and way of God.

When these criteria are met, the pupil becomes wise, and enjoys peace and prosperity. Teaching that does not meet these criteria fails to equip the pupil for living.

This principle applies today. It is the reason for the conflict and crime and confusion in today’s world. Educators no longer observe these criteria, and the result is the chaos, hedonism, and despair of the world today.

Verses 4-9

Verses 4-9:

Verse 4: These are the words which faithful Jews begin their daily liturgy, morning and evening. So ingrained is this in their life that history records during the historic persecution of the Jews in Spain, their involuntary utterance of the phrase often betrayed them to their enemies.

It is an expression of the essential unity of Jehovah Elohim. It is not, "Jehovah is alone God;" but "Jehovah our Elohim is one Jehovah." Though He is plural, Elohim, He is One. He is the Absolute, Infinite, Ever-present One, who alone is to be worshipped.

Jesus quoted verse 5 in response to a question regarding the Law, Matthew 22:35-40; Mr 12:28-33; Luke 10:27.

"Love" (verse 5) is not an emotion of liking or affection. It is an act of the will, a choice to give the highest regard for the top priority to its object, in this case God. It involves the three-fold being of man:

(1) "With all thy heart," the innermost being, the spirit.

(2) "With all thy soul," the mind, will, and emotions.

(3) "With all thy might," the physical part of one’s being.

The text affirms a basic principle, which applies today as well as in Moses’ time. It is the responsibility of parents for the education of their children. Nowhere in Scripture, or in history prior to the Eighteenth Century, is there a command or precedent for the state to claim responsibility for the education of children.

This does not mean that parents should be required or expected to educate their children in the complexities of all the arts and sciences. Parents - fathers in particular - are to begin in the home, during the infancy and early childhood years, instilling in the children Godly character. This is accomplished by teaching God’s Word, His commandments and judgments and statutes and righteous principles, see 2 Timothy 3:15-17; 2 Timothy 1:5; Genesis 18:19. Godly character - wisdom - is the foundation upon which all knowledge is to be built, Psalms 111:10; Proverbs 1:7. When this foundation is firmly laid, then the parents are responsible to entrust the further education of their children to others who are skilled in the arts and sciences, Galatians 4:1-2.

The text explains how parents (fathers) may fulfill their responsibility to educate their children:

(1) God’s Word must first be in the parents’ heart.

(2) "Teach ...diligently," shanan, "to sharpen, repeat," also translated "what," Deuteronomy 32:41; Psalms 64:3; and "pricked," Psalms 73:21. The meaning: to what the appetite and sharpen skills by patient, persistent teaching.

(3) "Talk of them," in the house, during time of leisure and refreshment, such as meal-time.

(4) "Walkest by the way," going about one’s duties in the business world.

(5) "Liest down," the final activity at night just before retiring.

(6) "Risest up," the activity to begin the day.

Biblical parenting is a heavy responsibility!

Verse 8: the basis for the custom of wearing phylacteries, to which Jesus referred, Matthew 23:5. This custom originated about the Second Century BC. It required all male Jews to wear at morning prayers and on festivals, two phylacteries. These were small leather cases, bound by strips of leather (or ribbon) to the forehead and the left arm. The box on the head was called a "frontlet," tokaphoth, Exodus 13:16; Deuteronomy 6:18; Deuteronomy 11:18. It contained strips of parchment upon which were written the words of Exodus 13:2-20; Exodus 13:11-17; Deuteronomy 6:4-10; Deuteronomy 6:13-22.

The totaphoth, attached to the forehead, symbolized the guidance of the instrument of direction in walking. God’s Word is to guide one’s daily walk The one attached to the hand symbolized the direction of the instrument of acting. God’s Word is to guide one’s daily activities.

Another custom based on this verse: writing the words of Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and Deuteronomy 11:13-21 on strips of parchment, enclosing these in a cylinder which was attached to the right-hand door post, mezuzah, of every room in the house. This teaches that God’s Word is to be constantly before His child, so he will unerringly observe and practice it.

Verses 10-15

Verses 10-15:

At time of this text, Israel was almost ready to enter the Land of Canaan. There they would find Land already prepared for them. They would harvest crops they had not planted, and live in houses they had not built. The text is Moses’ warning against becoming so engrossed with their new-found prosperity that they would forget Jehovah who had delivered them from Egypt, and who had given them this good land.

Human nature is such that prosperity is far more dangerous to man’s spiritual well-being than adversity. When in trouble, man tends to call upon God and seek His will. But when in prosperity, man tends to rely upon his own resources, and even to turn aside to other gods than the true God, see Proverbs 30:7-9; Psalms 119:67; Psalms 119:71.

Verses 16-19

Verses 16-19:

"Tempt," nasah, "to try, prove," here to put God to the test by calling in question His power and Presence, as at Massah, Exodus 17:1-7, q.v.

"Diligently keep," shamar, "observe carefully, take heed." This denotes more than merely to memorize; it means to learn and then put into practice.

Moses once again emphasizes the condition for blessing and prosperity: obedience to God’s commandments. This principle applies today, Matthew 6:33.

Verses 20-25

Verses 20-25:

This text affirms the principle that each generation is responsible to teach the succeeding generations the Word and will of God.

The duty of parents does not end with the biological act of bringing a child into the world, nor of providing food and clothing and shelter. God’s plan for the family includes the vital proviso that the parents, the father in particular, shall teach the child, and instill in him godly character. This is done as the parent instructs the child in who God is, His nature and His character, and what He does, His plan for man. This leads to instruction in what the child is to do in response to God’s nature and His works.

The righteousness of man consists in keeping God’s commandments, not in setting his own standards and attempting to follow them, see Romans 4:5-8.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 6". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/deuteronomy-6.html. 1985.
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