Deuteronomy 10:12-13 – What Does God Require? 


Deuteronomy 10:12-13


God requires faithful obedience.


Similar to the passage known as the Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4-5), and to later applications (Micah 6:8, Matthew 22:34-40, John 13:34), this passage insists that a proper, loving, humble walk with God cannot be separated from obedience. When the Israelites wanted to know what God required, a short list of relational dispositions was Moses’ answer. Fear God. Walk in God’s ways. Love God. Serve God bodily. Keep God’s commandments. 

Love means more than “covenantal faithfulness” here, though certainly that meaning should not be far from our minds. Keeping commands is only part, albeit a vital part, of what it means to be part of God’s people. To hold God in awe (probably better than “fear”) and to have a positive emotional attachment are no less parts of what Moses is instructing here than covenantal faithfulness through law-obedience. 

The emotional-devotional language of psalms and hymns of praise and devotion would not have been foreign to the composer(s) and redactors of Deuteronomy, any more than they would have been foreign to us. The primary meaning of “love” in Deuteronomy is covenantal love, that is, faithfulness to promises and commitments. But that by no means precludes emotional attachment to God as well, especially in light of God’s emotional self-descriptions of passion for Israel.