Sh’ma (or: Pipe Down and Listen Up, the LORD is God)

[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.

(Psalm 34:8.)

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.

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11 Responses to Sh’ma (or: Pipe Down and Listen Up, the LORD is God)

  1. nmcdonal says:

    Just learning Hebrew, and so far, this is the best application of it I’ve heard (or read)!

  2. Bronwyn Lea says:

    Shema begins with “sh”: I love that! I have always thought of “be still and know that I am God” as meaning be still (sit down). Thanks for the insight that it also means be still (pipe down).

  3. Funny Tim the truth of your post exhibits the beauty of the gospel of grace. For in us is built a need to strive, to do, to work,to create, yet it is our sinful nature that has us operate outside of our intended purpose for which we were created.

    This is why many messages lend themselves more to behavioral modification, law based or morality for our hearts are now grace-averse. However they were not meant to be such, as your post so wonderfully points out. We too often confuse the being or doing something with what God wants. When in effect the purpose of grace was to restore us back to the reason for which we were created, which was to worship God. Worship always requires more for us to rest in kowing it is finished, we are secure, then it does in trying to continue to be, earn or do something for God.

    Thanks Tim

  4. Jeannie says:

    Ah, rest and refuge. Sounds good. Why is it so hard to convince ourselves sometimes that God wants us to rest in Him, not do, do, do all the time? This is a great followup to Karen Swallow Prior’s post earlier this week, too.

    • Tim says:

      The two posts do sort of go together, Jeannie, thanks for mentioning that. I am so glad God does not require me to do, do, do all the time too.

  5. Aimee Byrd says:

    Great article, Tim. So simple, yet so hard. As Blaise Pascal put it, “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”

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