Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
Now these are the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments, which the LORD your God commanded to teach you, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go to possess it:2. The First Commandment and What It Involves
1. Hear, therefore, O Israel! (Deuteronomy 6:1-3)
2. The first commandment (Deuteronomy 6:4-5)
3. The remembrance of these words and practical obedience (Deuteronomy 6:6-25)
“Hear, O Israel! The LORD our God is one LORD.” Much has been made of this verse by orthodox Jews, who reverence it greatly. They call it the “Shema” after the first word “Hear.” It is often used by Jews and Unitarians to deny the three persons of the Godhead. The Hebrew word “echod” (one), however, excludes forever such a denial, for it means a compound unity. The Hebrew has another word which expresses exactly what Jews and Unitarians, who reject the three persons in the Godhead, believe. It is the word “yochid”; this has the meaning of a single one.
“Jehovah, our Elohim is one Jehovah,” thus the name of God is used in this verse. The verse states that to Him alone the name of Jehovah (the Self-existing One) rightfully belongs, He is the one who is absolutely God. It is the testimony against the polytheism (many and different gods) of the Gentiles, which surrounded Israel on all sides. And therefore, because He is the one God, and none beside Him, He must be loved with all the heart, with all the soul, with all the might. The heart with all its affections and energies must belong to Him. To believe on Him and to know Him must ever result in giving Him the heart. Spirit, soul and body must be devoted to Him. This is the first and the great commandment (Matthew 22:38; Mark 12:29-30). And we know this Jehovah as our Redeemer, who came and died in our stead. The New Testament fully reveals the claims He has on those, for whose redemption He paid the price with His own blood. “We love Him, because He first loved us” (1John 4:19). “And this commandment have we from Him, that he who loveth God love his brother also” (verse 21). “This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments” (1John 5:3). “For ye are bought with a price; therefore, glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1Corinthians 6:20).
Verses 6-9(Deuteronomy 6:6-9) are literally carried out by orthodox Jews. They write these words on parchment and put them in little boxes, which they bind with strips of leather to their foreheads and upon the hand. These are the phylacteries. They also put them in tin-boxes and nail them on the doors of their houses. All His words are worthy to be constantly remembered. The Word must be hid in the heart. It is to be in the family. It is never to be forgotten, whether we sit in the house, or walk, or rest, or rise up. Such a true spiritual remembrance of His words will increase and constantly produce devotion and obedience to the Lord. How solemn the warning not to forget Jehovah in the days of blessing and prosperity! (Deuteronomy 6:10-15) How often they did forget Jehovah in the days of peace and earthly blessing.
Deuteronomy 6:16 is of deep interest. “Ye shall not tempt the LORD your God, as ye tempted Him in Massah.” The tempting of the Lord at Massah was questioning His presence among them (Exodus 17:7). Our Lord made use of this word when the devil demanded that He should cast Himself from the pinnacle of the temple. Satan then quoted Scripture in His presence. The enemy knows how to do that; but he either leaves something out from the Word or he adds something to it. In quoting from Psalm 91, he omitted seven words, “to keep thee in all thy ways.” Satan knew the obedience of Christ and he tried to make our Lord act in obedience to the Word by testing God’s Word. But such was not God’s way; it was not according to His command to cast Himself from the pinnacle of the temple. If He had done it, it would have been an act of self-will and therefore disobedience. And that is why Satan left out those seven words. But what did our Lord do? He did not call Satan to task for mutilating the Scriptures, but quoted another Scripture to show His unswerving obedience. “Again it is written, Thou shalt not tempt the LORD thy God.” He would not tempt God. He quoted the book of Deuteronomy, because it is the book of obedience, and He had come not to do His own will, but the will of Him who sent Him. He also quoted the words in 8:3 and 10:20. How this fact confirms the inspiration and genuineness of Deuteronomy, we have already mentioned in our introduction.