At age 14, I started teaching a Sunday school class of children. I’m not sure if they learned much, but as a teacher, I learned many Bible stories and developed a life-long passion for teaching.
Teaching is an important part of how faith in God is shared with others; in the process, the teacher’s faith is expanded and developed further. Deuteronomy 6:1-9 was given to people entering the Promised Land as a commandment by God. God knew that living among unbelievers would be difficult; keeping faith in God would require intention and devotion. So Moses said, "The Lord your God charged me to teach you to observe..."
"…so that your children and your children’s children may fear the Lord your God all the days of your life…""…so that your days may be long…""…so that it may go well with you, and…" "…so you may multiply greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey…"Deuteronomy 6:1-3 NRSV
The verses following the passage are very direct. When teaching young children, we direct them to "listen." We also say "eyes on me, hands in your lap, turn your body this way!" Teachers know that listening is first in learning.
Deuteronomy 6.4 commands "Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God and the Lord alone." The verses following give several verbs as direct commands — love, keep, recite, bind and write; to do those commands, one must first hear. The next command — love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your might — is tied both to hearing and the understanding that God is one and the only one.
The Israelites were entering foreign territory after 40 years of being united as one people with one leader. Keeping God at the center of their lives and community would require great dedication and resolve. They were charged to "keep" them in the heart — the center of their being. Heart indicates deep-seated feeling, something worthy of reflection, devotion and/or attention. "With all your might"suggests that one would persevere until all strength and energy was expended in the great cause.