These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
As I read these verses this morning, I was inclined to break them up into smaller chunks. But, as I read over them again (and again … and again), they seemed to be communicating a single message. Verse 4 reminded me that there is only one God and that He is my God. Verse 5 reminded me that the proper response to God being a personal God is to love Him. Verses 6 through 9 seem to be an elaboration on what that love should look like.
Many people have had a first love experience. We become preoccupied with that person. They fill our waking thoughts and oftentimes our dreams, as well. We talk about them incessantly. We write their name on things — our binders, our hands, just about anything — so that we are constantly reminded of them. A more modern American equivalent might be putting a picture of them as the wallpaper on our mobile phone. The point is that the actions of a person experiencing their first love sound tremendously similar to what is described in Deuteronomy 6:6-9.
It might be asked: But verse 6 says These words, does it not? To which I would answer: It does. And God’s Word is inextricably intertwined with Him. John 1 tells me that the Word was God. It is speaking there of Jesus Christ, but He is also called the Word made flesh. If this is still a bit too uncomfortable for us to ponder, let us think of The Bible (These words) as God’s love letter to us. If that first love of ours were to have written us a love letter, then we would have devoured it. We would have read it until the paper wore out.
Is God’s Word on my heart? It should be. The phrase, on my heart, is not a familiar one. But there is an analog that is familiar: on my mind. The word that is translated heart is an accurate translation according to the definitions I find when I look it up, but the meaning of mind is also tucked in there among the meanings. Am I thinking about God’s Word throughout my day? If not, I should fix that. How? The following verses give some practical advice.
I should teach them diligently to [my children] and shall talk of them when [I] sit in [my] house and when [I] walk by the way and when [I] lie down and when [I] rise up. I should be talking about God’s Word all the time. Just like I would talk about that first love, so, too, should I be talking about God’s Word. God’s Word should be a part of my social interactions. His Word should mark who I speak to and about what.
This next bit of advice is curious to me, because I might be inclined to construe it as a license to tattoo. I am told that I should bind them as a sign on [my] hand and they shall be as frontals on [my] forehead. While I am tempted to say that I should get The Bible tattooed on my hands and arms and even forehead, that would be inconsistent with what God has commanded the Israelites. What I think God is getting at is to say that my actions and my thoughts should be impacted by His Word. And the difference should be marked enough that I might just as well have God’s Word tattooed on me, because everyone can see that it affects my thoughts and actions.
Finally, I should write them on the doorposts of [my] house and on [my] gates. As I leave my house, I should be thinking about God’s Words and have reminders of those words to help me in that. Likewise, I should have reminders on my gates; on the way in to my home, so I am reminded of God’s Word as I come back to my family after working and being out in the world.
The long and short of this is that I should be preoccupied with God’s Word. This Bible I have is a love letter from God to humanity. That includes me. Let me treat God’s love letter as a love letter should be treated. Let me keep it in mind at all times. Let me speak to others about it and let it impact my thoughts and actions and let me remind myself as I go out into the world what God has to say about that and remind myself as I come back in what God says about that. Let God and His Word be my preoccupations.
Father, thank You for giving me Your Word so that I can look over it again and again and be reminded of Your love and reminded of what You would have me do. Please cause Your Word to take root in me and to be ever on my mind. Please teach me to preoccupy myself with You so that every other relationship might fall into its proper place and reap the blessings of a mind and heart fixed on You.