“These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children.” - Deuteronomy 6:6-7
As Israel was about to enter the Promised Land, God felt it to be a perfect time to remind the people of their covenant obligations. Thus, the Law was repeated to them on the far side of the Jordan River, the last major act of Moses’s life before he died. In the Lord’s concern for the future of the nation, He concentrated on the role parents were to have in training their children. The Lord commanded the Israelites here in this passage that the words of the Law were to be “upon their hearts.” Parents were to saturate their own minds with the Word of God so that their every desire, their every thought, their every passion, their every decision would be constrained by obedience to God’s Word. This could only happen if the commandments were constantly before them, were memorized by them, and were meditated upon by them. Parents were to love the Law of God with all their hearts. Only then could they carry out their next duty—the discipling of their children.
God commanded the parents to train their children constantly in the Word of God, and He used a fascinating word here to show the parents how to do it. In Deuteronomy 6:7, the NIV translation reads, “Impress them on your children.” The word “impress” literally means to whet or sharpen as one would sharpen the blade of a sword. God uses the exact same Hebrew root word in Deuteronomy 32:41 when he speaks of sharpening his flashing sword, and Psalm 64:3 uses this word to refer to people who sharpen their tongues like a sword. Now, in those days as in this, in order to sharpen a blade, one would use a whetstone. The edge of the blade is rubbed in a certain motion on the whetstone over and over again until the blade is razor sharp. The key to the process is patient repetition. It is not possible to sharpen the blade with just a few passes over a whetstone… patient repetition, over and over again, repetition sharpens the blade.
"Parents were to love the Law of God with all their hearts. Only then could they carry out their next duty—the discipling of their children."
In the same way, God commanded Israelite parents to train their children with patient repetition of His commandments. They were to speak these commandments again and again to their young ones until obedience was sharpened in their souls. One reading was not sufficient! Therefore, the verses read: “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” The application for us is clear: we also must sharpen the obedience of our children by repetition of God’s Word in our homes. Do you have daily family devotions? Do you read the Bible to your children (or grandchildren, if you have them)? Is there this patient repeated motion of the Word of God entering their ears and honing their souls? Or are such times few and far between in your home? God calls on us to sharpen the obedience of our children by patient repetition of the perfect Word of God in their hearing, day after day until our time with them is complete.