Suggested Scripture: Deuteronomy, Chapter 6
Focal Passage: 4 Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One. 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. 6 These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. 7 Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead. 9 Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:5-9
Let’s set the stage for this study. God has given His commandments to Israel for the second time. If you haven’t read the book, I know you’ll remember the scene from the movie. Charleton, Heston, as Moses, comes down from Mount Sinai with the Ten Commandments the Lord has given him. But the people have so corrupted themselves that Moses, in anger, throws the tablets at the base of the mountain destroying them. The Bible tells us that later (Exodus 34) God gave them to Moses again.
Now flash forward to Deuteronomy 6. The Children of Israel are about to enter the land God has promised them. As Moses discusses God’s laws, he clarifies the attitudes implied by them rather than only giving the specific commands. (It is one thing for us to know God’s Word…it is another thing for us to obey it and apply it to our lives). He begins by presenting Yahweh (a form of the Hebrew name for God) as the one true God who requires our complete devotion. We are to love Him with our “heart and soul”, or wholeheartedly, as we might say today.
The next verses discuss the importance of remembering these truths and teaching them to their children and future generations. This is part I want to discuss today. God told them to bind them as a sign on their heads and as symbols on their foreheads. Orthodox Jews of old (and some still today) would write the commandments on parchment and put them in little boxes called “Tefillin” and bind them on their wrists and foreheads. But is this what God is asking of us? I don’t believe so.
God wanted then what He wants of us today…to keep His Word in our hearts and in our homes. We are to take every opportunity to talk about His statutes with our families and those around us. Look at verses 6-8. We are to teach them to our children and grandchildren…to discuss them as we go about our day…let them be our first thoughts in the morning and the last thing we think about at night.
Have you ever gotten a song stuck in your head? No matter what you did, that song kept drumming around in there all day. That’s the principle here. His Word is to be a part of our very nature, and these verses tell us how to make that so…we are to let them be part of everything we do.
I posted a verse this past week in Wednesday’s Word about the importance of keeping God’s Word in our heart.
Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You. Psalm 119:11
The only way I know to do that is to read it and memorize it. When was the last time you memorized a verse from the Bible? I’ll bet most of you can recite John 3:16 and the Lord’s Prayer. And if you were in Sunday School growing up as I was, perhaps you memorized other passages of Scripture. I still remember many of them verbatim today…the Christmas story in Luke 2, Psalm 100, Psalm 23 and others. As a small child, they were just words without meaning, but as I got older, their meanings were clear and comforting.
There are many reasons to memorize God’s Word. First and foremost, as the Psalmist tells us in the above passage, it keeps us from sinning. When Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness, His only defense against this attack was the Word of God. Three instances are told to us in Matthew 4:1-11, and Jesus answered each temptation with God’s Word. He didn’t read it…He recited it…He had memorized it.
There are other reasons for memorizing Scripture, and Chuck Swindoll elaborates in his book, Growing Strong in the Seasons of Life:
“I know of no other single practice in the Christian life that’s more rewarding, practically speaking, than memorizing Scripture. That’s right. No other single discipline is more useful and rewarding than this. No other single exercise pays greater spiritual dividends! Your prayer life will be strengthened. Your witnessing will be sharper and much more effective. Your counseling will be in demand. Your attitudes and outlook will begin to change. Your mind will become alert and observant. Your confidence and assurance will be enhanced. Your faith will be solidified.”
There are many verses in the Bible that emphasize the importance of committing Scripture to our hearts. And God gives yet another reason preceding our focal passage:
Do this so that you may fear the Lord your God all the days of your life by keeping all His statutes and commands I am giving you, your son, and your grandson, and so that you may have a long life. Deuteronomy 6:2
The fear of God is the respect that comes when we understand and appreciate His holy character…it carries the idea of total trust and submission to Him. God promises to bless those who fear Him and obey His Word. And the best way to do that is to commit it to heart.
The next time you get that tune stuck in your head, and it’s driving you nuts, why not open God’s word and pick a verse? Read it over and over…recite it out loud and repeat it throughout the day. I bet you’ll find that tune will go away and you will draw closer to Him in the process.