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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Deuteronomy 11:18

 

 

"You shall therefore impress these words of mine on your heart and on your soul; and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontals on your forehead.

Adam Clarke Commentary

Therefore shall ye lay up these my words - See Deuteronomy 6:4-8; (note), and Exodus 13:9; (note).


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Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 11:18". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/deuteronomy-11.html. 1832.

The Biblical Illustrator

Deuteronomy 11:18

Lay up these my words.

The four places in which a good male keeps God’s truth

The four places are here: heart, soul, hand, head; or put it another way: there are two departments of the religious life--first, the truth of God, the reality of religion revealed in us, that is in the heart and soul; and second, the truth of God revealed by us, that is, by the hand and by the head. Even as it is said there were four rivers flowing from paradise, so also there are four rivers which flow through the paradise of a good man’s life. They, are love, truth, use, beauty.

I. The first place is the heart.

1. Lay up God’s words like treasure in a chest; they are the family plate of believers, the heirlooms of the household of faith.

2. Like books in a library, ready for reference. We cannot read all books at once; we cannot read the whole Bible at one time, it is neither necessary nor desirable. In a very large library well selected, it may be thought there are no books useless, every book has its place and worth, and may be referred to again and again; but it is laid up on the shelf against the time.

3. Like clothes in a wardrobe, ready for all weathers: for summer’s sunshine, and for winter’s storms. The truth of God should be the garment of the soul.

4. Like conserves of precious fruit, gathered in the time of plenty to be eaten in the snow time of winter scarcity; as of Mary, the mother of our Lord, we read, “She kept all these sayings and pondered them,” she laid them up for love to brood over.

5. Like knowledge hidden but not lost. It does not follow always that what does not appear does not exist. A capable captain on shore is not always telling you how he would manage a ship in difficulties; an accomplished musician may be sitting quite still, and saying nothing of the art he loves and of which he knows so much; but in both of these, and many such men, the knowledge only needs the occasion; it is there.

6. Lay them up in the heart as guides. We are not always studying the map, but if we desire to know a country, it is useful to have it; and these words are for use, meditation, and memory.

7. In the heart: not like misers’ hoards, but like bankers’ gold, which turns into capital, and is not only wealth itself, but a means of creating more.

II. The second place is the soul.

1. The soul is the seat of thought or understanding.

2. The soul is the seat and place of mind-life.

3. The soul is the scat of conviction, and conviction is mental activity and independence.

III. And now the relations of the text change; and this third head brings us to the second department. I said at the first, those two places to which I have referred speak of the truth of God revealed in your heart and soul--refer to the moral and mental power of man. Now in this third particular religion is brought into notice; it is the truth of God revealed by us, “therefore shall ye bind these words for a sign upon your hand.” I suppose, that is as much as to say, realise them in your life. Religion is for use, fuel is for fire, wood cut down is to be used, bricks are to build, cloth is for clothes, religion is for life. If you have any religion, use it. Some years ago there was a sect of people called the Rosicrucians; they were a very remarkable people. It was said of them that they had discovered the principle of an ever-burning flame; but then nobody was able to see it; the singularity of the lamp was, that it only shed its lustre in vaults, in closely sealed and concealed tombs. I do not so much doubt the discovery, as I deny the use of such a flame; open the door, it was said, and instantly the light was extinguished. Why, whatever is the use of such a light as that--a light that nobody ever sees? And so it is with the religion of some people; if they have got any, they keep it all to themselves as in a vault or a tomb. “Therefore bind these words as a sign upon the hand.”

1. Like a glove, on the hand for defence. The hedger and ditcher tears up many a weed, and encounters fearlessly many a prickly thorn with his rough glove, which he would be fearful to grapple with his ungloved hand.

2. Like a gauntlet, as a sign of challenge.

3. Like a tool, an implement of labour, something to work with, to build with.

4. Like a sword.

IV. The head. “Lay up these words in the heart, that they may be a frontlet to the eye,” that is, before you; what you possess you will profess; in a word, avow the Word; do not be ashamed of it. On the other hand, do not make profession of it before you possess it. Thus--

1. These words are to be a source of pride; for what is worn on the head, or between the eyes, is usually a source of pride, or a manifestation of it. Be proud then, not of yourself, of your attainments, but of that which has been conferred upon you in the possession of these words.

2. As frontlets between the eyes, for this implies dignity, giving ornament, rank, elevation; so it ought to be if these words are laid up in heart and soul and are manifested in the life; they will be like an ornament of grace to the head, and chains about the neck; they will be wreathed into a coronet, diadem, a tiara, a crown--all these are worn on the head; and I cannot imagine religion really possessed without its giving beauty, some royalty and elevation to character, something that alike dignifies person and speech.

3. That they may be as frontiers between your eyes, that they may be a source of protection. Wear them as helmets are worn, like that of which we read, “for a helmet the hope of salvation.” And is not this also in the words of God? for they constitute not only the ornament or character, but its defence too, as it is written, “Thou through Thy commandments hast made me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever with me.” These are the principles of a religious, life--these, are the principles which the great Hebrew lawgiver beheld as lying at the foundation of all prosperous states, and all truly noble personal character. (The Preachers Lantern.)

Intellectual religion

You cannot read this Book without perceiving that Moses delivers himself with the energy and affection of one who knew that though his strength was unabated and his eye not dimmed, he had but few days to remain upon earth, and who therefore desired to gather into a parting address whatever was most calculated to arrest the attention and confirm Israel in loyalty to Jehovah. And if we attach a more than ordinary interest to the last words of distinguished individuals, ought we not to listen with a reverent attention to the lawgiver with whom God had spoken face to face, whilst in the thought of a speedy dissolution he pours forth lessons, warns, and exhorts? Now, we believe that in our own day, perhaps more than in any other, there is a risk of men being satisfied with a merely intellectual religion. Undoubtedly the character of the age will tell upon the character of the religion of the age, and a mere head knowledge of Christianity will satisfy many of the admirers and cultivators of intellect. And besides this possible case of surrendering to religion an intellectual homage, in which, from the beginning to the end, the heart has no share, we believe that with those who are really converted the head very often outruns the heart, and that many truths are acknowledged which are not at all felt.

I. Now, let it be distinctly observed, that there is a great province for the understanding as well as for the affections in the matter of true religion. It is the business of reason to scrutinise the claims of the Bible to the being received as inspired; and there can be no proper place for the exercise of faith until there be in some shape this exercise of reason. I can never ask a man to believe that the Bible is God’s Word, except as the result of a painstaking inquiry; but when once this inquiry has been made, when once the conclusion has been arrived at, that the Bible is inspired, then, indeed, we expect of a man that he prostrate his reason before the disclosures of the Book, and that, whenever these disclosures surpass his comprehension, he give them that unhesitating admission which is due to the confessed fact that they are communications from God. And over and above this employment of the understanding in determining the evidence of the Volume, and therefore the veracity of the doctrines, a man is to read Scripture with just the same endeavour to gain a clear and intelligent acquaintance with its statements which he would make in perusing an ordinary book. There is no fault in the effort to comprehend whatever comes within the range of a finite comprehension; the only fault is in the refusing, when a point is reached by which the understanding is baffled, to receive on God’s Word what we cannot clear up by human reason. And thus the intellect is to be no idle agent in religion, for a man must know what he is to believe before he can believe it. We contend that faith cannot be in advance of the understanding; but we are equally clear that the understanding may often be in advance of faith. We are not speaking of mere historical faith, but of that powerful principle which the Scriptures alone recognise as faith; and we say that faith cannot be in advance of the understanding, for according to the foregoing statements, a man must know the object of faith before he can believe: he must know that there are Three Persons and but One God, ere he can believe a Trinity in Unity. But then, on the other hand, the understanding may be very far in advance of the faith, for a man may have knowledge of a vast variety of truths, on not one of which is there any influential fastening of his belief. So that whilst there is a kind of necessity that the intellect possesses itself of doctrines before they can become objects of faith, it by no means follows that the intellect will send them on to the heart; on the contrary, it is a thing of most common occurrence, that the intellect will retain them as merely speculative truths, and that the historical uninfluential assent is the highest homage which they shall ever obtain. And our business is to endeavour to show you the danger of this laying up of religious truth within the confines of the intellect, and the consequent importance of attempting all obedience to the precept of our text. There is a danger to those who are unconverted; there is a danger also to those who are converted. We begin with the former, and we declare that the parties on whom it seems hardest to make a moral impression are those who are thoroughly well acquainted with the letter of the Gospel. If there be one of you who knows thoroughly well the whole plan of salvation, but who has nothing more than an intellectual religion, we should like to look over what may be called the elements of his knowledge, and see whether he can stand acquitted of the charge of hindering his own conversion. It is a part of your knowledge that it is your duty, to detach yourselves from those habits and associations which are opposed to God’s Word. Do you labour to effect this detachment? You have the intellectual persuasion that you must be lost, unless Christ heal your moral disease. Do you act as you would do, if you had the intellectual persuasion that you must speedily die unless you betake yourself to this or that physician? We are sure that if there were anything of candour in your replies, they would furnish an ample demonstration that man is himself chargeable with detaining truth in the intellect, when it ought to go forward to the heart, and that it is simply through his not making that use of religious knowledge which he would and does make use of any other sort of knowledge, that he fails to become spiritually as well as intellectually a Christian. Now, up to this point we have confined our remarks to the case of unconverted men; and it may be thought at first sight that intellectual religion can never be attributed to the converted; yet, if you examine with a little attention you will perceive, that in respect of every man there is a likelihood of the understanding outstripping the affections, so that many truths may be held by the intellect which are not known in the experience. Now, look, for example, at the priesthood of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is not possible that a renewed man should fail to give his unqualified assent to the truth that the death of Christ was an expiation for sin, so that he will unreservedly hold the doctrine of the atonement. But all this, you observe, is purely intellectual. The truth may be thus held, but yet held only in the understanding; and the question is, whether the believer lives in the daily experience of this truth--whether as fast as sin is committed it is carried to the blood of the atonement, and whether, therefore, the opening of a fountain for human defilement is a fact which has only gained the assent of the intellect, or one in which the heart feels a deep and abiding concern. And thus, again, there must be with every real Christian an intellectual holding of the truth, that we are to live each moment in a realised dependence upon God; that we are to cast our burdens upon the Lord, that we are to refer to Him our every care, our every want, our every anxiety. But we want to know whether, in respect of the providence of God, as well as of the priesthood of Christ, the intellect is not often in advance of the experience. There may be an unqualified admission by the understanding of the noble truth, that not a sparrow falls without our Heavenly Father. But unless a man continually act on the admission--unless, indeed, he carry his every concern to the Almighty, so as to ask His counsel in each difficulty, His support in each trial, His guardianship in each danger, why, we contend that the understanding has outstripped the heart--in other words, that the intellect is in advance of the experience. And there are, we suppose, but few Christians who will deny that they are chargeable with this inequality of pace in the understanding and the heart.

II. We will just show you what we think the consequences of the intellect being in advance of the experience. If you know a doctrine whose power and preciousness you do not feel--and this is, in other words, the outstripping of the heart by the understanding--then you receive that doctrine only as an unconverted man receives it, and you must be chargeable even in a greater degree with its detention in the intellect, when it ought to be sent on to the affections; and there must be produced something of the like effect in two cases. You strip the doctrine of energy by allowing it to remain inert in the understanding; you reduce it into a dead letter, and thus you grieve the Holy Spirit, who intended it as an engine by which you might carry on the conflict with the world, the flesh, and the devil; and we need not tell you that what grieves the Spirit must sensibly affect your well-being as Christians. Besides, in all your religious intercourse with others, the probability is that your conversation will take its measure from your knowledge and not from your experience. Take the case of a preacher. The preacher, and we suppose it to be his duty, will press upon his congregation the amount of truth which is known to himself, whether or not it be felt by himself. When I speak up to the extent of my knowledge, if that knowledge outruns my experience, I represent myself as attaching value to certain truths of which, after all, I have not tasted the preciousness. And what is this but representing myself as a more thorough believer than I am? And what again is this but the playing the hypocrite, though I may have no distinct purpose of palming a false estimate upon others? And if the excess of knowledge over experience thus makes it almost certain that in attempting to instruct others we shall virtually be hypocrites, you have only to remember how hateful is hypocrisy in every degree, and under every disguise, to the Almighty, and you will have no difficulty in discerning the signal danger of allowing the intellect to outstrip the heart. It is true, you may say, we will avoid the danger by abstaining from all endeavour to instruct, but you will thus again be neglecting a positive duty--and is not this perilous? You may say, “We will never, speak beyond our experience,” and this will secure us against the alleged risk; but since your experience comes not up to your knowledge, you would thus be guilty of keeping back truths which God has given to be advanced, and you would hardly then think that the danger which you incur would be less than the danger you avoid. If, therefore, any one of you as a true Christian values peace, then his constant aim will be, that whatever of religious truth finds its way into the understanding may be sent onward at once to the affections, and that thus the precept of Moses may be sedulously obeyed--“Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul.” (H. Melvill, B. D.)

Attention to the Scriptures

Attention to the Word of God is strongly urged upon the Israelites in my text. At that time, however, only a small part of that Word--the five books of Moses--had been given by God to marl. How much more strongly, then, is our attention called to the Holy Scriptures, now that every part of the Bible, containing the will of God, is made known to us!

I. We have the reason given why we are to attend to the words of the Bible, namely, because they are the words of God; therefore shall ye lay up these My words. If an earthly king were to write a book for his subjects, how eagerly would it be read! In proportion to his authority would be the attention paid to what he wrote, especially if he were a king from whom his subjects had received great blessings, and who had no other object in view than their real good. What attention, then, ought to be paid to the Bible! It is the word of the King of kings. It also contains treasures worth more than thousands of worlds, even the Gospel of salvation to perishing sinners. Yet, alas! nothing, in general, is more neglected than the Bible. Or, if it is read, it is only in a formal manner, as a matter of duty, undertaken in order to work out a supposed righteousness. The Bible must be searched into as for hidden treasures, by all that are really anxious for the salvation of their souls; and the glorious truths it contains must be laid up in the storehouse of the heart.

II. We are commanded not only to lay up the Word of God in our own hearts, but also to teach it to the rising generation. “And ye shall teach them your children.” We have here another melancholy proof of the blindness of the natural man. We see children taught, indeed, but not taught the Word of God. We see boys taught to seek after the good things of this life. We see girls taught to adorn their perishing bodies. But we look around, almost in vain, for those who teach their children the words of the Lord. All, however, to whom the Word of God is precious, should teach it to the rising generation.

III. The next command given is to speak of the words of God, when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. Alas! there is, in general, no subject so completely banished from conversation as religion. To hear men in their common discourse, we might suppose that God had commanded His creatures never to talk of His words. And, surely, if the command were given to the Israelites, it is urged with far greater force upon us, in proportion as the reason is stronger. The Israelites could only talk of the wonders of creation, of the history of their forefathers, and of the law of Moses--that law which, from its very holiness, is a law of sin and death to fallen man. But, beside all this, we can talk of the wonders of redemption, and of the gracious dealings of the Lord with His people in all ages.

IV. But still further, the words of God should always be had in remembrance. The text commands the Israelites to write His words upon the doorposts of their houses. There might be some reason for this, when printing was unknown, and therefore copies of the whole Word of God scarce--but that reason exists not now. Through the mercy of God the whole of His Word may now be in the hands of everyone who wishes it. We therefore must enter into the spirit of the text. We should have the precepts and promises of the Bible fastened to the gates of our hearts, to direct our actions, words, and thoughts.

V. In the close of our text we are reminded of the encouragement given to obey the command--that your days may be multiplied, and the days of your children, in the land which the Lord sware unto your fathers to give them, as the days of heaven upon earth. Those who govern their lives by the Word of God are the only really happy people in this world. Faith in Christ delivers believers from the hard service and bondage of this world, and leads them into the glorious liberty of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. (H. Gipps, LL. B.)


Copyright Statement
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Deuteronomy 11:18". The Biblical Illustrator. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/deuteronomy-11.html. 1905-1909. New York.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes.

Lay up — Let us all observe these three rules, 1. Let our hearts be filled with the word of God. Lay up these words in your hearts, as in a store-house, to be used upon all occasions2. Let our eyes be fixed upon the word of God: Bind them for a sign upon your hand, which is always in view, and as frontlets between your eyes, which you cannot avoid the sight of3. Let our tongues be employed about the word of God, especially with our children, who must be taught this, as far more needful than the rules of decency, or the calling they are to live by.


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.

Bibliography
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 11:18". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/deuteronomy-11.html. 1765.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

18.Therefore shall ye lay up these my words. He again demands their serious attention, lest if the doctrine he propounds should be only lightly and carelessly received, it should speedily be let slip; for to lay up in, or on, the heart, is the same as to hide deeply in it; although, where the word “soul” is added, the “heart” refers to the mind, or the intellectual faculties. In fine, he commands them to have the Law not only impressed on the mind, but embraced with sincere affection. In the next place, he commands that aid to the memory which we have just considered, viz., that they should wear the precepts on the arms and foreheads; as if God should constantly meet them, to arouse their senses. For (as has been said) God had no regard to the bands themselves, but would have them seen on their arms and foreheads for another object, viz., (236) to suggest and renew their care for religion. Again, He appointed them to occupy the place of ornaments, in order to accustom the people to take their chief delight in meditating on the Law. Thus that foolish ambition is sufficiently refuted, when hypocrites sought after a reputation for holiness by their fringes and other fopperies, as well as that gross error of the whole people, in thinking that they discharged their duty to God by their outward dress. What follows afterwards, that the precepts should be written on the gates of their cities, and on their private houses, tends to the same thing; for we have said, that since men’s minds are prone to vanity, and are easily distracted by innumerable allurements, they have need of such stays to hold them back. And this object is plainly expressed, when He commands them severally to speak of the precepts of the Law, whether they are sitting at home, or going abroad, or lying down, or rising up; because without diligent exercise, it usually happens that whatever men have once learnt is soon lost. He adds, also, another effect of this diligence, viz., that not only should each of them consult their own individual advantage, but also teach their children, whereby God’s Law would ever be maintained in rigor by perpetual succession.


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Bibliography
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 11:18". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/deuteronomy-11.html. 1840-57.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Deuteronomy 11:18 Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes.

Ver. 18. In your heart.] Yea, upon your heart, [Isaiah 47:7; Isaiah 57:11] so as they may sink thereinto, [Luke 9:44] as the best balm cast into water sinks to the bottom.


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 11:18". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/deuteronomy-11.html. 1865-1868.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Deuteronomy 11:18. Lay up these my words — Let us all observe these three rules: 1st, Let our hearts be filled with the word of God; let it dwell in us richly, in all wisdom, (Colossians 3:16,) and be laid up within us as in a store- house, to be used upon all occasions. 2d, Let our eyes be fixed upon it: Bind these words for a sign upon your hand — Which is always in view; and as frontlets between your eyes — Which you cannot avoid the sight of. 3d, Let our tongues be employed about the word of God, especially with our children, who must be taught this, as far more needful than the rules of decency, any branch of human learning, or the calling they are to live by.


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 11:18". Joseph Benson's Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/deuteronomy-11.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Place. Hebrew, "that they may be as frontlets between your eyes," chap. vi. 9., and Exodus xiii. 9. (Haydock)


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 11:18". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/deuteronomy-11.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

as = for.


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 11:18". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/deuteronomy-11.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes.

Therefore shall ye lay up these my words ... bind them - (see the note at Deuteronomy 6:8.)


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 11:18". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/deuteronomy-11.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(18) Therefore shall ye lay up these my words.—The same injunctions are found above (Deuteronomy 6:6-9). The Jewish commentator remarks, somewhat sadly, here, that they would remember them in their captivity, if not before. The “therefore” at the commencement of the verse is a simple “and,” so that the passage can be read in connection with what precedes: “Ye will perish quickly from off the good land, and ye will lay these my words to your hearts.” But the words of Deuteronomy 11:21 seem to show that this is not the primary meaning—only an application suggested, like many other applications of Scripture, by the actual event.


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 11:18". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/deuteronomy-11.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes.
ye lay up
6:6-9; 32:46; Exodus 13:9,16; Psalms 119:11; Proverbs 3:1; 6:20-23; 7:2,3; Colossians 3:16; Hebrews 2:1; 2 Peter 1:12; 3:1,2
a sign
Matthew 23:5

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
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Bibliography
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 11:18". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/deuteronomy-11.html.

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