Reflection for Today ▶️ ⏹️

God Love, image found on Pinterest, artist uncredited

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
Deuteronomy 6:4-5

Deuteronomy introduces the emotion of love to the human-God relationship, which up until this point has been focused on fear. The Hebrew term we translate as "fear" is more related to awe and reverence than to terror, nevertheless it creates a clear power dynamic, and an imagery of cowering before the alter. With the introduction of love, albeit a love that is commanded, we have a softening of the man-God relationship. The imbalance is still there, as it must be, but it conjures up an altogether kinder relationship, one of care and nurture. At the same time it is a ringing declaration of monotheism: there is one Lord, and He is Love.

The commandment goes on to make it clear that this love is not just words we speak, but is all-encompassing, touching every aspect of our lives, And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.1 God is woven into every aspect of our lives. We are surrounded by God's gift of love—we can choose to embrace it, or not, but it is always present, always available to us. This is a beautiful sentiment.

Even though this commandment is technically not one of the ten commandments as expressed in both Exodus and Deuteronomy,2 the closest being I am the Lord thy God/Thou shalt have no other gods before me/Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image/Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain3, it is the one called out by Jesus as "the most important one"4, and coupled with love thy neighbour as thyself said to be the essence of the entire law. Both these 'meta-commandments' contain the word love, the first being agapē, God-love and the second philia, brotherly love. The concept of God as Love becomes from this point in the scripture an essential aspect of our relationship with Him.

1Deuteronomy 6:6-9
2 Exodus 20:1-17, Deuteronomy 5:4-21
3 Abbreviated wording from the numbering table in the Wikipedia article, Ten Commandments
4 See Mark 12:29-30 and Matthew 22:37. In Luke 10:27 the words are attributed to 'a certain lawyer' who is in conversation with Jesus.