I read about King David’s desperation for the living words of God. A once smelly shepherd boy, David gets catapulted in the seat of being one of the most powerful men on earth, living the Israelite version of our American dream. He can have everything his heart desires, everyone his eyes lust after. And yet, all his gold, fame, and prestige couldn’t save this powerful man from a deep soul starvation. He possessed a soul that no gold coin, crown jewel, or beautiful woman could put life into.
My soul clings to the dust; give me life according to your word! (Psalm 119:25)
His struggles bring him face-to-face with the molecules of dust. This is more than just an exotic Middle Eastern imagery. This is exactly where broken, tired, desperate souls end up when the life-giving words of God are not speaking life into their bones.
I often struggle with feeling I have an atrophied heart for the Word of God. I don’t find myself regularly “delighting” in God’s law to the point of meditating on it day and night (Psalm 1). I don’t always experience that feeling of longing after God and his Word “like a deer pants for water” (Psalm 42:1). Or, the glorious declaration that God’s Word is a lamp and light for daily living (Psalm 119:105). I stumble my way through life, drinking others thoughts on God, but not thirsty enough myself for the living waters of the Lord.
God is so concerned with people loving his Word, that he is taking upon himself the task of a tutor in Deuteronomy 6, teaching his people practical ways to love his statutes. Birthed on top of the mountain, wrapped in clouds, fire, and thick darkness, these commandments are literally brought into the very intimate homes of the people by the Lord himself. Before Deuteronomy 6 is about teaching our kids God’s statutes, Deuteronomy 6 is about God teaching parents to love them.
Start Loving God With Your Ears and Eyes
“Hear, O Israel,” is Moses’ cry for his people. Moses appeals to the ears and eyes of our reasoning. In other words, loving God’s Word begins not with ecstatic heartfelt feelings, but with our minds soaked in the words of God written—gospel words. Too often, we treat the Bible more like an accessory to our lives, rather than a necessity. We read it as if it were an ancient, monotonous, incomprehensible monologue. Like an old English poem that never seems to engage us beyond its title.
And yet the imagery used in the Scripture to describe the very Word of God is far from boring flatness or lethargic dullness. The Word of God is a fire and a hammer (Jeremiah 23:29); a sword with a precise surgical intrusion (Hebrews 4:12); a spiritual bootcamp for the Christian’s faith (2 Timothy 3:16); a channel for faith in God (Romans 10:17); the very power of God (Romans 1:16); food for our souls (Jeremiah 15:16); wisdom for our life (Psalm 119:105); an eternal seed (1 Peter 1:23) healing and restoring souls (Psalm 107:20). The Lord provides his words so we can be saved through Christ (John 1:14).
When Our Hearts are Cold is More Scripture, not Less
When our hearts are cold and we find ourselves bored with the very words of God, the solution is more hearing of God through the Bible, and not less. David understood this very principle as he persistently calls out to God to awaken his whole being into passionate love for God’s Word, in the midst of brokenness and suffering. When it comes to the Scripture, David admits his struggles all the while as he calls for help. David confesses spiritual blindness (“Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law” v. 18); sin (“Put false ways far from me and graciously teach me your law” v. 29); lack of wisdom (“Make me understand the way of your precepts” v. 27); depression (“My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word” v. 28); a wandering heart (“Incline my heart to your testimonies” v. 36).
We learn, alongside David, to persist in the reading and hearing of God’s words from the depths of our wrestling souls. God cares too much for his Word and his redeemed people, to allow our hearts to shrink aimlessly in weariness and dullness!
Loving God’s Word is Making It Ordinary In Our Homes
Because I love decorating, I thrive in the world of Pinterest like a fish in the water! My feminine decorating nerve cells explode in neurological sparks of furniture placement, color coordination, and room décor. I create for my eyes, what my heart yearns to delight in. My home then becomes somewhat of an expression of my heart. I’m convinced that our ordinary living in our personalized, casual homes holds the powerful key to what our hearts grow to love.
The Deuteronomy 6 teachings are primarily to be lived out in the daily life of the family, inside the confinements of the home. God’s words are to be brought in every aspect of our life. God reminds his people that to be in a covenant relationship with him is to make much of his words on a daily basis. As the gospel permeates the intimacy of our beings and homes, its centrality will draw our hearts, minds, and strength into a richer love for the Lord.
I love how Deuteronomy 6 weds each daily task to God’s active words: “talk to [your kids] of [God’s words] when you sit in your house; and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise” (7, italics mine). When our homes abound in God’s life-giving words, all the daily chores are but opportunities to showcase and deepen our love for God because God’s Word applies to every task and job we perform daily.
When Moses urges people to write God’s words on their doorposts and gates, it wasn’t because the Jewish people needed some tips on Middle Eastern home design, though I find Moses’ ideas of decorating the homes in the gospel style very Pinterest-y, to say the least! In having families write the words on doors and furniture, Moses teaches them that the Bible should be just as personal, intimate, and practical as family life.
In our 21st century, God’s words apply just as much to regular play dates, baby feedings, house cleaning, meal preparations, grocery shopping, kids’ homework, family trips. Because God cares that his words abound in my ordinary life, I don’t have to live every day clinging to the uncertainty that maybe the next Christian conference or latest popular Bible study may awaken my soul to his Word. As a Christian wife and mother of 4 children, whose main headquarters are the walls of my home, Deuteronomy 6 empowers me to fight to intentionally bring the gospel into my daily tasks, and to creatively stencil it all over in my schedule.
Feasting on God’s Word
Moses declares, “These words that I command you today shall be on your heart” (Deuteronomy 6:6). Before they are to teach the gospel to their children, Moses makes sure that their hearts are learning to delight in the words of God. They can’t teach their children to love that which their hearts don’t love.
We must internalize the Bible deeply into our hearts. Some of the best symbols in the Bible describe God’s Word by using food terminology: “bread” (Matthew 4:4), “milk” (Hebrews 5:12-14), “solid food” (1 Corinthians 3:1, 2), “water” (Ephesians 5:26), “honey” (Psalm 19:10). The Bible is more than just theoretical teachings with spiritual impact; it’s of a God-breathed, solid, eternal consistency that gives eternal life to the soul. The Scripture invites us to “taste” of it and “see how good the Lord is” (Psalm 34), an invitation to the Word-table, catered by the Lord himself. “Of all the sensory methods,” one commentator writes, “tasting is the most intimate and the only one that involves ingestion.” We do not merely feast on spiritual syntax and religious vocabulary, but rather what we taste with each bite from the Scripture, is the Lord himself.
On Mount Sinai, the same vocalized breath of God that brought the universe into existence, and the man’s heart into beating, engraved his very words on tablets of stone. It was a spectacle of magnificant proportions, where fire and smoke, thunder and clouds, thick darkness and human flesh witnessed the transfer of God’s powerful words onto tablets of stone! And yet, in all its majesty, this event was but a spotlight on what was about to be revealed in God’s big story.
The ultimate command to love God with our all, is never perfectly obeyed by sinful people with atrophied hearts. The revelation of God’s words on Mt. Sinai was always pointing to something beyond stone tablets and wooden monogrammed doorposts. It was pointing to God’s revolutionary, messianic movement of the Word of God—Jesus—transferred from tablets of stones unto tablets of the heart, by the means of a wooden cross.
The incarnate Word of God, Christ Jesus, would make a sinful world his dwelling place. The Lord reassures us today like he did the Israelites, through gospel sculptured doorposts, stenciled furniture, and daily chores. His incarnate Word, Christ, is to dwell in and among us in order that we would love God and forever be nourished by the one who is the bread of life and living water. May our souls cling to Him.