Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever! —Deuteronomy 5:29 NIV
Do you know any parents who hold their newborn baby in their arms for the first time and determine right on the spot to hurt and wound and damage that baby? Neither do I. When we hold a fragile, helpless infant in our arms, we might worry about our ability to keep them alive, but we certainly want them to do well. As they grow, we teach them as best we can how to thrive in this world. We insist on car seats, strapped in and secure. We teach them to look both ways before they cross a street. We warn them of the dangers of alcohol and drug abuse. We help them in a thousand ways to live a good life. We want this for them! And that very “wanting” makes us insist on their obedience in order to help them achieve a safe and healthy life.
As I read Deuteronomy 5:29, I am struck by how very much God wants His people to be good: “Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always.” And I love His reason: “so that it might go well with them and their children forever!” Just like a parent insists that a squirming toddler buckle into the car seat for his own protection in case of an accident, God insists on us being obedient for our own protection. I hear a longing in these words of God’s. Do you? “Oh, if only they would behave … they would be happier. If only they would do what I say … they would enjoy life fully.”
Why on earth don’t we listen to Him? Unlike our parents, who had moods and crabby days and the occasional unreasonable demands, God is the perfect parent. He made us. He wired us. He can see our future. He knows what will bring us happiness and what will not. And amazingly, God wants things to go well with us and with our children after us. Forever. His deep love for us is personal and real to the degree that He feels grief when we walk away in angry disobedience, and He rejoices at our return.
God’s first longing stated in our verse is that our hearts would be inclined to fear Him. Now “fear” is an interesting word when used in conjunction with God. It’s not the terrified fear of a helpless individual in the face of a monster. No, it’s the wholehearted respect and acknowledgement we feel when we get our heads wrapped around the truth of Who God Is. He is the only One who never “wasn’t.” He has always existed, and every single piece of matter was created by the words He spoke. Stars. Galaxies. Ants. Cells. Elephants. Rhubarb. Oxygen. Water. You name it, and He made it. The Bible puts it this way: “Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made” (John 1:3 NLT). Also, God is powerful beyond imagination. He could squash us like a bug in a nanosecond. So … yes, He is to be feared. At the same time, God is merciful, loving, and full of grace toward His creatures. How amazing is that in light of His power and creative might! So we fear Him in the sense that we know how Big He is. We worship Him because He is worthy of our worship, and we bow our knees in respect and awe. He is surely no monster, but the good parent, the best parent, who longs for us to do well in our lives.
God’s second longing is that we “keep all the commands always.” Why? Because they are good for us. When we put other gods before Him, for example, we leave the sheltering protection of His love and care. When we steal, we live in fear and shame of being found out and there is no peace. When we covet, we live with bitter hearts instead of thankful ones. Each one of His commands is for our good. I’ve discovered through sad disobedience how much better obedience is. How about you? When I am tempted to stray off the good path marked out for me by the One who sees that path all the way to the end and beyond, I remember Who He is and how much He cares for me. I remember how it just never goes well for me when I wander off in bitterness or anger or selfishness.
Not one of us is able to keep all the commands always. We are willful, stubborn folk who often have to learn the hard way. But even here, our God is so good to us. He has provided a way of forgiveness and cleansing when we stumble back to Him all dirty and muddy from walking away, and He has given us the incalculably great gift of His indwelling Spirit. His Spirit within us reminds us of the right path and helps us fight temptations as they come. The sweet thing is … we can always get back to the path if we ask for His help. We can always be forgiven no matter how far away we’ve wandered or how often.
Yet, how much better for us and those we love if we would just be good, right? I love this verse! Our God wants our obedience so that it will go well with us. Let’s be good!
Heavenly Father, I’m so thankful for Your loving Father-heart for Your people. I’m humbled by Your longing for us to obey Your commands and live well and prosper. I love that You desire that for my children and grandchildren as well. All Your thoughts are good, dear Lord! All Your ways are right. Help me, please, to obey. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
You are loved,
Sweet Selah Ministries
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