Deuteronomy 6

The great commandment

1 Now these are the commandments, the regulations, and the case laws that the LORD your God commanded me to teach you to follow in the land you are entering to possess,
2 so that you will fear the LORD your God by keeping all his regulations and his commandments that I am commanding you—both you and your sons and daughters—all the days of your life and so that you will lengthen your life.
3 Listen to them, Israel! Follow them carefully so that things will go well for you and so that you will continue to multiply exactly as the LORD, your ancestors' God, promised you, in a land full of milk and honey.
4 Israel, listen! Our God is the LORD! Only the LORD!
5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your being, and all your strength.
6 These words that I am commanding you today must always be on your minds.
7 Recite them to your children. Talk about them when you are sitting around your house and when you are out and about, when you are lying down and when you are getting up.
8 Tie them on your hand as a sign. They should be on your forehead as a symbol.
9 Write them on your house's doorframes and on your city's gates.
10 Now once the LORD your God has brought you into the land that he swore to your ancestors, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give to you—a land that will be full of large and wonderful towns that you didn't build,
11 houses stocked with all kinds of goods that you didn't stock, cisterns that you didn't make, vineyards and olive trees that you didn't plant—and you eat and get stuffed,
12 watch yourself! Don't forget the LORD, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
13 Revere the LORD your God, serve him, and take your solemn pledges in his name!
14 Don't follow other gods, those gods of the people around you—
15 because the LORD your God, who is with you and among you, is a passionate God. The LORD your God's anger will burn against you, and he will wipe you off the fertile land.
16 Don't test the LORD your God the way you frustrated him at Massah.
17 You must carefully follow the LORD your God's commands along with the laws and regulations he has given you.
18 Do what is right and good in the LORD's sight so that things will go well for you and so you will enter and take possession of the wonderful land that the LORD swore to your ancestors,
19 and so the LORD will drive out all your enemies from before you, just as he promised.

The next generation

20 In the future, your children will ask you, "What is the meaning of the laws, the regulations, and the case laws that the LORD our God commanded you?"
21 tell them: We were Pharaoh's slaves in Egypt. But the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand.
22 Before our own eyes, the LORD performed great and awesome deeds of power against Egypt, Pharaoh, and his entire dynasty.
23 But the Lord brought us out from there so that he could bring us in, giving us the land that he swore to our ancestors.
24 Then the LORD commanded us to perform all these regulations, revering the LORD our God, so that things go well for us always and so we continue to live, as we're doing right now.
25 What's more, we will be considered righteous if we are careful to do all this commandment before the LORD our God, just as he commanded us.

Deuteronomy 6 Commentary

Chapter 6

A persuasive to obedience. (1-3) An exhortation to obedience. (4,5) Obedience taught. (6-16) General precepts, Instructions to be given to their children. (17-25)

Verses 1-3 In this and the like passages, the "commandments" seem to denote the moral law, the "statues" the ceremonial law, and the "judgments" the law by which the judges decided. Moses taught the people all that, and that only, which God commanded him to teach. Thus Christ's ministers are to teach his churches all he has commanded, neither more nor less, ( Matthew 28:20 ) . The fear of God in the heart will be the most powerful principle of obedience. It is highly desirable that not we only, but our children, and our children's children, may fear the Lord. Religion and righteousness advance and secure the prosperity of any people.

Verses 4-5 Here is a brief summary of religion, containing the first principles of faith and obedience. Jehovah our God is the only living and true God; he only is God, and he is but One God. Let us not desire to have any other. The three-fold mention of the Divine names, and the plural number of the word translated God, seem plainly to intimate a Trinity of persons, even in this express declaration of the unity of the Godhead. Happy those who have this one Lord for their God. It is better to have one fountain than a thousand cisterns; one all-sufficient God than a thousand insufficient friends. This is the first and great commandment of God's law, that we love him; and that we do all parts of our duty to him from a principle of love; My son, give me thine heart. We are to love God with all our heart, and soul, and might. That is, 1. With a sincere love; not in word and tongue only, but inwardly in truth. 2. With a strong love. He that is our All, must have our all, and none but he. 3. With a superlative love; we must love God above any creature whatever, and love nothing but what we love for him. 4. With an intelligent love. To love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, we must see good cause to love him. 5. With an entire love; he is ONE, our hearts must be united in his love. Oh that this love of God may be shed abroad in our hearts!

Verses 6-16 Here are means for maintaining and keeping up religion in our hearts and houses. 1. Meditation. God's words must be laid up in our hearts, that our thoughts may be daily employed about them. 2. The religious education of children. Often repeat these things to them. Be careful and exact in teaching thy children. Teach these truths to all who are any way under thy care. 3. Pious discourse. Thou shalt talk of these things with due reverence and seriousness, for the benefit not only of thy children, but of thy servants, thy friends and companions. Take all occasions to discourse with those about thee, not of matters of doubtful disputation, but of the plain truths and laws of God, and the things that belong to our peace. 4. Frequent reading of the word. God appointed them to write sentences of the law upon their walls, and in scrolls of parchment to be worn about their wrists. This seems to have been binding in the letter of it to the Jews, as it is to us in the intent of it; which is, that we should by all means make the word of God familiar to us; that we may have it ready to use upon all occasions, to restrain us from sin, and direct us in duty. We must never be ashamed to own our religion, nor to own ourselves under its check and government. Here is a caution not to forget God in a day of prosperity and plenty. When they came easily by the gift, they would be apt to grow secure, and unmindful of the Giver. Therefore be careful, when thou liest safe and soft, lest thou forget the Lord. When the world smiles, we are apt to make court to it, and expect our happiness in it, and so we forget Him who is our only portion and rest. There is need of great care and caution at such a time. Then beware; being warned of your danger, stand upon your guard. Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God; neither by despairing of his power and goodness, while we keep in the way of our duty; nor by presuming upon it, when we turn aside out of that way.

Verses 17-25 Moses gives charge to keep God's commandments. Negligence will ruin us; but we cannot be saved without diligence. It is our interest, as well as our duty, to be religious. It will be our life. Godliness has the promise of the continuance and comfort of the life that now is, as far as it is for God's glory. It will be our righteousness. It is only through the Mediator we can be righteous before God. The knowledge of the spirituality and excellency of the holy law of God, is suited to show sinful man his need of a Saviour, and to prepare his heart to welcome a free salvation. The gospel honours the law, not only in the perfect obedience of the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ; but in that it is a plan for bringing back apostate rebels and enemies, by repentance, faith, forgiveness, and renewing grace, to love God above all things, even in this world; and in the world above, to love him perfectly, even as angels love him.

Footnotes 4

  • [a]. Or The LORD is our God, the LORD only; or The LORD is our God, the LORD alone; or The LORD our God is one LORD; or The LORD our God, the LORD is one; or The LORD is our God, the LORD is one.
  • [b]. Heb uncertain; cf Exod 13:16; Syr sign or mark; Tg phylacteries
  • [c]. Or What are the laws…?
  • [d]. Or signs and wonders

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO DEUTERONOMY 6

In this chapter Moses proceeds on in his exhortations to the people of Israel, to attend to the commandments of God, that it might be well with them, De 6:1-3, and begins with a principal and fundamental article of religion, which deserved their first and chief regard, the unity of God, and the love of him, De 6:4,5, which they were carefully to instinct their children in, and ever to be mindful of themselves, De 6:6-9, and when they were come into the land of Canaan, and into a plentiful enjoyment of all good things in it, they are exhorted to be careful not to forget the Lord, their kind benefactor; but to fear him, serve him, and not go after other gods, since he is jealous of his honour and worship, De 6:10-15 and not to tempt him, as they had done, but diligently keep, his commandments, that it might be well with them in that land, De 6:16-19, and when their children inquired the reason and meaning of such testimonies, statutes, and judgments, that were enjoined them, they were to give them the history of their case in Egypt, their deliverance from thence, the wonders that were wrought for them, and the introduction of them into the good land of Canaan; and to let them know that these commands were some of them in commemoration of these blessings; and by these they were laid under obligation to regard them all, and the rather, since they were not only for the glory of God, but for their own good, De 6:20-25.

Deuteronomy 6 Commentaries