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Bible Commentaries

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments
Deuteronomy 6

 

 

Verse 4

Deuteronomy 6:4. Hear, O Israel! — The passage contained in this and the following verse, the Jews reckoned one of their choicest portions of Scripture. They wrote it on their phylacteries, (or slips of parchment bound on their foreheads, their necks, their breasts, or wrists,) and thought themselves not only obliged to repeat it twice every day, but very happy in being so obliged; having this saying among them, “Blessed are we who, every morning and evening, say, Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord!” Jehovah our God is one Jehovah; 1st, The God whom we worship is Jehovah; a Being infinitely and eternally perfect, self-existent, and self- sufficient. 2d, He is the only living and true God, he only is God, and he is but one. The firm belief of this self-evident truth would effectually arm them against all idolatry, which was introduced by that fundamental error, that there are gods many. It is past dispute that there is one God, and that there is no other but he, Mark 12:32. Let us, therefore, neither have, nor desire to have any other.


Verse 5

Deuteronomy 6:5. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart — And is this only an external commandment? Can any then say that the Sinai covenant was merely external? With all thy heart — It is not only the external action, but the internal affection of the mind that God requires; an affection which influences all our actions, in secret as well as in public. We must love him,

1st, With a sincere love; not in words and in tongue only; saying that we love him, when our hearts are not with him; but inwardly, and in truth, delighting ourselves with him. 2d, With a strong love; the heart must be carried out toward him, with great ardour and fervency of affection. 3d, With a superlative love; we must love God above any creature whatsoever, and love nothing besides him, but what we love for him, and in subordination to him. 4th, With an intelligent love, or with all our understanding, as it is explained Mark 12:33 : we must know him, and therefore love him, as those that see good reason for loving him. 5th, With an entire and undivided heart, the whole stream of our affections running toward him, and being united in his love. O that this love of God may be shed abroad in our hearts!


Verse 6

Deuteronomy 6:6. These words shall be in thy heart — Though the words alone, without the things expressed by them, will do us no good, yet as we are in danger of losing the things if we neglect the words, we must, therefore, even lay the words up in our hearts. Our thoughts must be daily conversant with them, and employed about them, that thereby our whole soul may be brought under the influence and impression of them.


Verse 7

Deuteronomy 6:7. Thou shall teach them diligently — Hebrew, whet, or sharpen them, so as that they may pierce deeply into their hearts, This metaphor signifies the manner of instructing them, that it is to be done diligently, earnestly, frequently, discreetly. To thy children — They that love the Lord God themselves will do what they can to engage the affections of their children to him, and so preserve the entail of religion in their families from being cut off. Bishop Patrick well observes here, that Moses thought his law so very plain and easy, that every father might be able to instruct his sons in it, and every mother her daughters. That good thing which is committed to us, we must carefully transmit to those that come after us, that it may be perpetuated. Thou shalt talk of them — With due reverence and seriousness, for the benefit, not only of thy children, but of thy other domestics, thy friends, and companions. When thou sittest in thy house — At work, or at meat, or at rest. When thou walkest by the way — For air and exercise, for conversation, or on journeys. When thou liest down —

Art about to retire from thy family for sleep. And when thou risest up — Returnest again to thy family in the morning. Take all occasions to discourse with those about thee of divine things; not of unrevealed mysteries, or matters of doubtful disputation, but of the plain truths and laws of God, and the things belonging to their peace.


Verse 8

Deuteronomy 6:8. Thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thy hand — As at that time there were few written copies of the whole law, and the people had it read to them only at the feast of tabernacles, God seems to have appointed, at least for the present, that some select sentences of the law, that were most weighty and comprehensive, should literally be written upon their gates and walls, or on slips of parchment, to be worn about their wrists, or bound upon their foreheads. The spirit of the command, however, and the chief thing intended, undoubtedly was, that they should give all diligence and use all means to keep God’s laws always in remembrance, as men frequently bind something upon their hands, or put something before their eyes, to prevent forgetfulness of a thing which they much desire to remember.


Verse 13

Deuteronomy 6:13. Shall swear by his name — Not by idols, or any creatures, but only by his name, when thou hast a call and just cause to swear. But some think, from comparing this with other passages, the words rather mean, that they were to be steadfast in the acknowledgment and worship of the true God, and in professing that religion which he had instituted. Thus, (Isaiah 19:18,) to swear to the Lord of hosts, is to profess the true religion. And God’s words, by the same prophet, (Isaiah 45:23,) Unto me every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall swear, are interpreted by St. Paul to mean, Every tongue shall confess to God, Romans 14:11. Thus, (Psalms 63:11,) Every one that sweareth by him, signifies, every worshipper of the true God.


Verses 15-17

Deuteronomy 6:15-17. Is a jealous God among you — Hebrew, In the midst of you; to see and observe all your ways, and your turnings aside to other gods. Ye shall not tempt — Not provoke him, as the following instance explains. Sinners, especially presumptuous sinners, are said to tempt God; that is, to make a trial of God, whether he be so wise as to see their sins, so just, and true, and powerful, as to take vengeance on them, concerning which they are very apt to doubt, because of the present impunity and prosperity of many such persons. Ye shall diligently keep — Negligence will ruin us; but we cannot be saved without diligence.


Verse 25

Deuteronomy 6:25. It shall be our righteousness — Hebrew, Righteousness shall be to us. We shall be owned, and pronounced by God to be righteous and holy persons, if we sincerely obey him; otherwise we shall be declared to be unrighteous and ungodly. Or, mercy shall be to us, or with us. For as the Hebrew word rendered righteousness is very often put for mercy, (as Psalms 24:5; Psalms 36:10; Psalms 51:14; Proverbs 10:2; Proverbs 11:4; Daniel 9:16,) so this sense seems best to agree both with the Scripture use of this phrase, (in which righteousness seldom or never, but grace or mercy frequently, is said to be to us, or with us,) and with the foregoing verse and argument. God, saith he, (Deuteronomy 6:24,) commanded these things for our good, that he might preserve us alive, as it is this day. And, adds he in this verse, this is not all; for as he hath done us good, so he will go on to do us more and more good, and God’s mercy shall be to us, or with us, in the remainder of our lives, and for ever, if we observe these commandments. “Our sincere obedience,” says Henry, (including in the term, repentance, faith, and love, with all other graces,) “shall be accepted through a Mediator, to denominate us, as Noah was, righteous before God, Genesis 7:1; Luke 1:6; and 1 John 3:7. The Chaldee reads it, There shall be a reward to us if we observe to do these commandments.”

 


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Bibliography Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 6:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/deuteronomy-6.html. 1857.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, November 18th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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