Read Deuteronomy 4:9, Deuteronomy 4:23. What is the Lord telling them to do here, and why is this admonition so important for the nation?
Two verbs dominate the opening of both these verses: “take heed” and “forget.” What the Lord is saying to them is: take heed so that you don’t forget. That is, don’t you forget what the Lord has done for you nor the covenant that He had made with you.
The verb “take heed,” smr (which is also used in a different form in Deuteronomy 4:9, translated “keep yourself”), occurs all through the Old Testament, and it means to “keep,” “to watch,” “to preserve,” or “to guard.” Interestingly enough, the first time it appears in Scripture is even before sin, when the Lord told Adam to “keep” the garden that He had given to him (Genesis 2:15).
Now, though, the Lord tells the people, each one individually (the verb is in the singular), to guard themselves, lest they forget. This is not “forget” so much in the sense of memory loss (though over time and in new generations that could come) but more in the sense of being lax about their covenant obligations. That is, they were to be mindful about who they were and what that meant in terms of how they were to live before God, before other Hebrews, before the strangers among them, and before the nations around them.
Read again Deuteronomy 4:9 (see also Deuteronomy 6:7 and Deuteronomy 11:19), but focus on the last part, about teaching them to their children and grandchildren. What would that have to do with helping them not to forget?
It’s not a coincidence that right after Moses tells them not to forget, not to let these things “depart from your heart,” he tells them to teach these things to the next generation and to the generation after. Not only did their children need to hear about these things, but perhaps even more important, by telling and retelling the stories of what God had done for them, the people would not forget what those things were. Hence, what better way to preserve knowledge of what the Lord had done for His chosen people?
|How has telling others of your experience with the Lord benefited not just others, but yourself, as well? How has the recounting of God’s leading helped you not to forget His leadings?|