We are studying Deuteronomy 6:1-9 (along with others using the Uniform Series) for Sunday, December 2. Here are some questions that might be worth thinking about or talking about in class:

The first words of the text are “Now this is the commandment – the statutes and the ordinances –” (v1). What do we understand “this” to include? Or, not to include? What might be the consequences of our idea?

Who do we think of as the “you” that is being “charged to observe” the commandments, statutes and ordinances (v1)? Do we think of it as including different groups of people? Is what these people are being “charged to observe” different for the different groups? Why, or why not? Does this “you” include us, and if it does, what are we being “charged to observe”? Why do we say this?

In v2, the reason given for observing the commandments is “so that you … may fear YHWH all the days of your life.” Is this “fear” being presented as a good thing? Why, or why not? Assuming it IS being presented as a good thing to do, how can we understand this “fear”? Does it mean we have to revise our understanding of “fear”? How? Why is that?

In 6:5, the command is to “love YHWH your God …” How is this compatible with the idea in verse 2? What do we think is the relationship between 6:2 and 6:5?

What is the role or function of keeping the commandments in the project of loving God with all our heart, soul, and substance? That is: does keeping the commandments help us do this, hinder us in doing this, play some other role? How does this love of God look or feel different from keeping the commandments? Or would it? Why do we say this? How would it look or feel different from fear? Or would it? Why do we say this?

Christian readers: could 1 John 4:18 be a commentary on this text? [Context: 1 John 4:7-21.] If so, how do we understand that commentary? Why?

In general, I am thinking that it might be worth our while to spend a lot of time reflecting on the quality of relationship that is being held up as ideal by this text, what is included by that, what is excluded; and on the concrete steps human beings like ourselves would need to take to cultivate that quality of relationship, or if it ever manages to come to that, to have it; and how we would go about expressing that quality, and those steps, in words; and whether that sheds any light on the way this text links experiences, like fear and love, that we might not expect.