There is a sense among some that the Hebrew Bible is simply about following the rules. There is no doubt that Moses delivers God’s Instruction in the text, and it is quite apparent that living by this Divine guidance is intended to help us lead good lives in service of God and others.
But the teaching is not all about merely living in accord with some list of specifications, and the way offered is hardly “dry law.” Indeed, embedded in these ancient instructions is a life-giving path that shows the way, even for us in the modern world.
Especially fascinating is our being surprised and actually jolted by a message we see virtually hidden in the midst of statements on blessings and curses in Deuteronomy. It says something that strikes us as new: we are to serve God with joy, with gladness, and with abundance.
Yes, we are to worship and serve God, but it is not to be by rote, without delight and liberality. Just following the script is lifeless; it leaves us unfulfilled and is displeasing to God.
So, this verse comes out of the blue in a way, to wake us up, to splash our face, to put and keep the idea in our minds that we must add joy, gladness, and abundance to service of God.
Close your eyes, and think on that idea for a minute. It feels good. We shouldn’t let go of it. Indeed we should let it seep deeply in all we do.