I just love how, sometimes, the tiniest things jump out at me. Here’s one for today: "Be very strong; be careful to obey all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, without turning aside to the right or to the left." (vs 6) Here’s something that’s hard for us to remember sometimes: Every road has two ditches—one on the left and one on the right. God doesn’t want us to end up in either of them. He wants us to travel the middle of the road, where He is.
But for some reason, our sinful human condition is prone to the ditch. It gravitates toward the extreme. The Israelites are a perfect example. When God first tried to take them down the middle of the road, they crashed wildly into the ditch of idolatry. They were not faithful to God with their whole hearts; they didn’t love Him and Him alone. But then it’s interesting to note that when Israel "got its act together" after the exile, they were eager to make sure they would never end up in the ditch of idolatry again! And, in their zeal, they went careening willy-nilly straight across the road and crashed wildly into the opposite ditch—the ditch of legalism. There, they might have outwardly been practicing "obedience" to God, but their hearts were still very far from Him; they didn’t love Him and Him alone.
Israel learned the hard way that there are two ditches on the side of the road. And when Jesus showed up, some hated Him for boldly and confidently walking down the middle of the road. They were determined to pull Him off into the ditch, and when that didn’t work, they killed Him.
I think that’s why Jesus said that the first and greatest commandment was to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. (Mk 12:30) When our energy and focus is on Him first and foremost, it is impossible to be pulled into one of the ditches. He travels the middle of the road, and He wants us to walk with Him!