Commented Bible Passages

These Bible meditations are meant as a way of seeking God in silence and prayer in the midst of our daily life. During the course of a day, take a moment to read the Bible passage with the short commentary and to reflect on the questions which follow. Afterwards, a small group of 3 to 10 people can meet to share what they have discovered and perhaps for a time of prayer.

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Deuteronomy 11:18-21: Your Word on Me and in Me
Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the door-frames of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land that the Lord swore to give your forefathers, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth. (Deuteronomy 11:18-21 NIB)

Word is one of the most essential terms in the Hebrew faith. God creates by his word: "By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth. (…) For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm." (Psalm 33:6,9). When God speaks, he does something new; God offers life and that life is brought by two “messengers”: word and breath, davar and ruah in Hebrew. His words bring life because they give structure to the world and keep it from collapsing into itself. Like the constants of modern physics working together in such a way that the different forces (nuclear, gravitational…) do not cancel one another out, but work together in an equilibrium indispensable to life, the words of the Lord are law, they are right (Psalm 19), in order to make the world a place fit to live. The ten commandments in Hebrew are known as the Ten Words.

Keeping God’s words thus means linking ourselves to his creative will. It means rediscovering the “wondrous deeds” (Psalm 136) God has accomplished in the past to bring his people out of slavery. And now that Israel has reached its destination, the book of Deuteronomy re-reads the experience of crossing the desert and exhorts the nation to humility and vigilance. “Remember from where you have come” seems to be one of the watchwords of that book: you are what you are only because God has made it possible. In the same vein, Paul will say later: “What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?” (1 Corinthians 4:7).

Keeping God’s word thus means remembering that our life has been made possible by a gift. We must never forget this generosity, and that is the reason why it should be written on one’s forehead, arm, heart, soul, and door.

Jewish believers are surrounded, enveloped by the words of their Creator: their minds (forehead), their strength (arm), their thoughts (heart), their personality (soul), their intimacy (doors) are all covered by the memory of the gift of life. Paul will say nothing different when he exhorts the disciples of Jesus in similar fashion: “Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 13:14). That is because Jesus himself is the Word coming into the world (John 1). In the New Testament, the Word enters believers so that God himself may dwell within them: “If you keep my commands (my words), you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love” (John 15:10). Letting God gradually take his place as God in us, letting his call to life ring out in us, giving him room to express his creative and structuring power: that is the noble task of prayer.

- Remembering what we have received: how is that call, which is expressed throughout the Book of Deuteronomy, expressed in my life as well?

- By what concrete signs can I express the importance of God and God’s Word in the space where I live? In my agenda?

Other bible meditations:

Last updated: 1 September 2023