“And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” – Deuteronomy 6:6-9
As a parent, I am keenly reminded each and every day of the battle that wages for the hearts and minds of children. Add to that being the parent of an adopted child and you have an even greater battle taking place. In the day-to-day routine, it seems at least in my home that we easily forget one of the fundamental keys to parenting, something God has commanded parents to be about doing at all times with their children. That key to effective parenting revolves around the teaching and implementation of God’s word at all times and in all places.
In Deuteronomy 6:6-9, God commands parents to do a number of things. Before we examine what He commanded, it is important to take a quick step back to grasp where Israel was at when God spoke these words and what they were about to embark upon. The children of Israel were about ready to enter the Promised Land. Before they stepped foot into the land of promise, God reminded Israel of what He had done on their behalf, how He had delivered them from bondage, and moreover, He reminded them once again of the commands He had given them to live by.
Thus, the words God is referring to in Deuteronomy 6:6, are the sets of commands He gave to Israel on how they were to love Him and love others. These commands were not just a onetime declaration that could be heard and then forgotten or lost upon later generations. To ensure the constant focus and emphasis on these instructions, God commanded parents to constantly share these truths with their children. Fast forward to the New Testament and we find Jesus in Luke 10:27 reiterating that loving God and others finds its roots in the commands God gave in the forfront of the Book. Thus, the command to parents to instruct their children in the truth of God’s Word is something we find noted throughout Scripture. It is not just a past tense requirement for the people of Israel a long time ago.
God is quite clear on how He wants this instruction to take place. First, He gives the command for parents to diligently teach these things. This phrase “teach them diligently” by no means reflects a halfhearted approach or attitude. The word translated as teach is the Hebrew verb shaman, which means “to inculcate anything on any one”. Now for those not familiar with what inculcate means, that words connotes the concept of hammering something. Perhaps a good way to think about this activity is in relation to hammering a nail into a piece of wood. Unless you are Popeye the Sailor Man, it is highly unlikely you will be able with one smack of the hammer to drive that nail flush into the wood. It takes repetition and it requires hitting that nail exactly on the head. Furthermore, it requires hitting that nail in the same spot over and over, driving that nail into the wood. This same concept can be related to what God is commanding parents in Deuteronomy 6:7. He expects parents to drive home the word of God at all times with great zeal and purpose.
The next important point to note is God expects parents to start this instruction with their children. Do not wait until your kids are teenagers to start mentioning the Word of God. Start young and start often. Why? Proverbs 22:6 promises, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” When you plant the seeds of Scripture deep in the heart of a child when they are young, God’s Word takes root in their life. While it is no guarantee they will follow after God when they grow to adulthood, studies have revealed “that when both parents were faithful and active in the church, 93 percent of their children remained faithful.”
The next command God gives is for parents to “talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” This statement covers every element of one’s daily activities and possible locations. Now talking is far more than just a passing conversation. The word translated as talk is the Hebrew verb dabar, which means “to speak, declare, converse, command, promise, warn, threaten, sing” with the underlying idea of leading and guiding as a shepherd would his flocks being the primary emphasis. This means parents are to shepherd their children by using the Word of God as the shepherd’s crook, keeping them on the straight and narrow path. This takes place at home, anywhere outside the home regardless of whether you are sitting down or standing up. Basically God is saying, “Parents: at all times and in all places instruct your children in My Word.”
As if this was not clear enough, God further instructs, “You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” Binding God’s commands on your hands and your eyes signifies that the truth of His Word controls your actions and thoughts. Writing God’s Word on the doorposts of your house and on your gates reminds parents of the need for Scripture to define how their home is ran and how it functions.
How then are parents to be able to follow these clear commands of the Lord? Being able to instruct your children in the ways of God and in His Holy Word requires the parent to be faithful in their own Bible study and in prayer. It will take preparation, serious earnest preparation with God’s Word sinking into the fabric of your own heart before you can then pour out the refreshing and cleansing water of God’s Word into the lives of your children. This means that parents must hammer home God’s Word into their own lives, setting the example of what diligent Bible study looks like. This means that parents must live out in their own words and actions the truth of Scripture.
This is not easy and breaking lazy habits will not happen overnight. With that said, just as exercising your physical muscles takes diligence, practice, and know-how, so to exercising your spiritual muscles will require action, diligence, practice, and know-how so you can in turn train your children how to exercise their spiritual muscles so they can instruct their children. It is high time parents burn some spiritual fat, get a biblical chiropractic check-up and get to work following God’s clear command found in Deuteronomy 6:6-9. Swinging that biblical hammer to drive home the truth of Scripture takes a lot of work and there is no denying that one bit. There is also no denying the benefits that will occur for those parents who are obedient to this command.
It is time parents stop abdicating their God-ordained-and-commanded responsibility to Sunday School and Youth Group leaders to train their children in the ways of God. While these other church leaders play a part, the primary responsibility rests in the laps of the parents.
So, let us do as He has commanded.