[From the archives]
Sh’ma Yisrael YHWH Eloheinu YHWH Eḥad
Hear, O Israel: the Lord is our God, the Lord is One (Deuteronomy 6:4)
I love that this verse has a shorthand title, Sh’ma (or Shema), because whether read or said out loud it’s clear that it starts with sh. It’s a sound whose meaning we all know: shhh, hush now, be quiet. To me, Sh’ma conveys: Be quiet and listen, the one God is our God.
God likes it when we become still in his presence in order to get to know who he is. In fact, he invites us into his presence for this very purpose. “He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.'” (Psalm 46:10.)
The one God who is our God is the God who is worthy of exaltation everywhere on earth. And he wants us to know him? If it weren’t true, it would be preposterous. He’s God, the one who is worthy “to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” (Revelation 5:12.) Are we? Are we even close? No.
David knew how ludicrous it was. He even wrote a song about it: “what is a human being that you are mindful of him, a son of man that you care for him?” (Psalm 8:4.) David marveled at why God would choose to share himself with people: “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.” (Psalm 139:6.) Yet that’s what God has done, shared himself with us in the most intimate sense.
Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
Taste – take God into ourselves, and find out how good he is.
Refuge – a place of rest and quiet in the Lord.
Too good to be true? Extravagantly so, except that it is exactly what God desires. God wants us to take him into ourselves, and for us to enter into him as well. He in us and we in him. Eat and rest. Listen and learn.
Sh’ma, hush now and listen:
Our God is the one true God.