“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.” (v. 5)

Deuteronomy 6:4-13 Wednesday 16 November 2016

Psalm: Psalm 50:1-15


The Great Commandment, repeated by Jesus (Matthew 22:37), is central to the Jewish lawand faith. It is based on the direct relationship between God andpeople, for the Israelites are reminded yet again that "the LordisourGod" (v. 4). God has chosen them and this God is theirs. Theybelong together and are inseparable as a result, whatever happens.They are also being reminded, as they enter a land where theindigenous people worship a variety of other local gods, that theirGod is "the Lord alone" (v. 4). They are not to countenance anyother god(s) as they did at times during the years in thewilderness. Those days are now behind them and it is time to moveinto a new and clear relationship with, as far as they areconcerned, the one and only God.

This new relationship with God demands total commitment. Itrequires all their thoughts, feelings and actions; their heart,soul and might. It's not possible to have a half-heartedrelationship with God and properly demonstrate your love. It's alsonot possible to do this in a hidden way, for the expectation isthat they should remind themselves every time they look at theirhands or walk through a doorway, through the fixing of the words ofGod to their hands, forehead and doorframe (verses 8-9).

Whilst this may have been intended as metaphorical, in realityit led to the wearing of cubic black leather boxes, known astefillin or phylacteries, by Jewish men on their head and armduring weekday morning prayer, the boxes containing four texts,including Deuteronomy 6:4-9. In addition doorframes in Jewish homesoften have a mezuzah attached to them with this commandment writtenon it. And again, those listening to these words are reminded ofthe importance of telling their children, both at the start ofevery day and at the end, so that generations to come would notforget the importance of this relationship. There is no escapingthis central commandment and the commitment it requires.

To Ponder

  • How does a total commitment to loving God with all your heart,soul and might manifest itself today?
  • Richard Dawkins, the biologist and leading atheist, suggestedthat the "indoctrination of religion in children was abusive". Howdo we balance the command to "recite them to your children" (v. 7)day and night with encouraging the development of an enquiringmind?
  • As the Israelites became more affluent and started to benefitfrom the "houses filled with all sorts of goods" (v. 11) they beganto forget the importance of this great commandment and replaced theone God with other idols. What idols do we have to contend withtoday? 
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