Day 53: Deuteronomy 5-7; Shema

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.  And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets (lenses) between your eyes.  You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

One of the things that is being impressed upon us, yesterday, today, and throughout the book of Deuteronomy, is the importance of remembering the work of God in our lives.  Yesterday we talked about being careful that we don’t forget.  Today we hear the 10 commandments reiterated to us once again.  These are followed very closely by the words of the Hebrew “Shema.”  This is considered, by Hebrews from then through today, to be one of, if not the most important passage in the Hebrew Texts.  For them it was, as it is for us, one of the greatest statements of faith and of living the way God calls us to live, and of the importance that these things should have in our lives.  We don’t just arbitrarily read the Bible… we invest time into it… we immerse ourselves in it.  In many ways, we read the Word and let it read us as we open our hearts and our minds to the things that God is revealing to us about Himself and consequently about ourselves as well.

I could go on and on about this passage!  It is so great!  However, being that we have limited time and space here, I think that there are four words that maybe need defining a little bit in order to make this reading a bit more… meaning-full.  Words from Hebrew do not often translate in a one-to-one ratio.  There are nuanced meanings in English words and Hebrew words that may get lost in translation.  We have to understand that our own words are also packed with meaning that we give them… thus we shall look today at some of the original meanings with their nuances in order to help us better understand what God is calling us to today.

HEAR – שְׁמַ֖ע – “shema” – hear, listen, obey, heed, understand, try, examine – This word carries the meaning of not simply hearing something, but listening to it in a way that it affects you and has an effect on you.  If you think about hearing in today’s terms, our lives are clouded with a vast amount of noise pollution.  We often have music, TV, radio, and a myriad of other things on in the background because of our dislike of silence.  We hear those things, but its just noise.  Here God is saying “LISTEN” to my words, understand and obey them, do not simply let them passively wash over you.

HEART – לְבָבְךָ֥ – “levav” – inner man, mind, will, heart, soul, understanding – Our understanding of the heart as the seat of the emotions and the mind as the logical center is something that is so ingrained in us that we don’t necessarily understand how to live in any other way.  We are often told that we shouldn’t let our emotions get in the way of our thoughts, or that we should just ‘go with our hear.’  In this case, the Hebrew people would have heart the word “levav” and understood it to mean what we know as both the mind and the heart.  In other words, all your ways of knowing the world.  You shall love the Lord your God with all of your thinking and feeling abilities… all of your ways of interacting (on a non-physical level) with the world.  All of your logic, all of emotions, and all of the ways that you process inwardly are to be used for loving God.

SOUL – נַפְשְׁךָ֖ – “nephesh” – soul, self, life, creature, person, appetite, mind, living being, desire, emotion, passion – The word “nephesh” as a Hebrew word really has no good translation.  We have transferred its meaning into the word ‘soul’ which is partially appropriate, but also misses a great deal of the nuance of the word.  Nephesh would really be all of the ways of interacting with the world that would have been left out with “levav.”  Your “nephesh” is who you are, what makes you… you.  Your personality, your hobbies, your desires, your work… your whole self.  Emotions and passions tend to be included in this as well because of how we think of those things in relationship to that which we do in our lives.  Simply put… we are to love the Lord our God with our WHOLE SELF!  Even, apparently, our appetites.

MIGHT – מְאֹדֶֽךָ – “Me’od” – power, strength, very, greatly, sore, exceeding, great, exceedingly, much, exceeding , exceedingly, diligently, good, might, mightily – Roughly translated… “me’od” means ‘muchness.’  If you have some sort of a spell checker, you will see that ‘muchness’ isn’t actually a word.  If we look at what we are loving God with so far, it encompasses all of our inward and outward being.  This word indicates then, all of the things that make up our lives.  For Hebrew people, one’s strength and power was related to his (and I say his because it was a patriarchal society) family, his wealth (money, flocks, herds, servants, etc), his house, his land, defenses, etc.  All of these things were to be used to love God completely and bring glory to Him.  While loving God with your exceedingly large biceps is a nice thing, this really means a bit more than that.

There is so much more to this verse… parts that I hope we can come back to as we continue to read.  In the mean time, remember that loving God with our everything is important… however, as we read on, it is also abundantly important to keep the Word of God close to your heart and ever present in your lives.  Teach these words diligently to your children and impress it upon them!  I leave you with a song today, may it remain in your heart and mind as you think on these things today!


36 Responses to “Day 53: Deuteronomy 5-7; Shema”

  1. […] ← Day 53: Deuteronomy 5-7; Shema February 23, 2013 · 6:00 AM ↓ Jump to Comments […]

  2. […] trust that the Lord will continue to provide for us.  I think it is also a part of living out the Shema that we talked about on Friday.  Jesus says that all of the laws and prophets hang on this command […]

  3. […] sort of inward transformation that was taking place as well.  Again, we return to the words of the Shema and that of Leviticus 19, on which all the law stands.  It isn’t about upholding the rules […]

  4. […] Deuteronomy 30-34, is inextricably linked to the reading of the Law, and specifically the Shema of Deuteronomy 6.  It is about loving the Lord with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength! […]

  5. […] clear that these words are inextricably linked to the reading of the Law, and specifically the Shema of Deuteronomy 6.  The end of Deuteronomy makes so little sense without the beginning.  Moses […]

  6. […] So what we have read here in Judges 1-3 talks about how Israel did not follow the Lord.  A new generation grew up that did not know of Joshua or the Law of the Lord as Judges 2 tells us.  Remember back to Deuteronomy 6?  The Shema? […]

  7. […] of the Law which he would read day after day, night after night… that He would follow “the Shema” to the letter and be an example to the people of Israel what it means to truly follow after […]

  8. […] is loving the Lord with everything that he is, following the words of the “Shema” at every […]

  9. […] his whole heart.  He and the people make a covenant to God with wording similar to that of the Shema, “they entered into a covenant to seek the Lord, the God of their fathers, with all their […]

  10. […] is, in many ways, responding to the call of the Shema of Deuteronomy 6.  He is writing these words on His heart.  He is teaching them to the people. […]

  11. […] the wicked.  If you listen closely to this Psalm, you’ll hear the echos of the call of the Shema in Deuteronomy […]

  12. […] do all the things that were just said!  In many ways, this is a complete response to the Hebrew shema as […]

  13. […] more patience, and more trust in the Lord.  In chapter 3 Solomon even makes an allusion to the Shema from Deuteronomy 6, keeping things like love and faithfulness bound around the neck and written on […]

  14. […] say, and influence.  Again, we can hear the  Biblical echoes of Deuteronomy 6, the well known Shema of Israel, loving the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.  It is clear here and will […]

  15. […] that they should have lived.  In many ways, this would have pointed them all the way back to the Shema, the summary statement of the law on which, as Jesus points out in Matthew 22, all of the law and […]

  16. […] Interestingly, and somewhat of a revelation to me today, is the fact that it isn’t just this imagery that carries with it representation from God.  Ezekiel’s life is in many ways a representation of the very message that God is communicating to the people of Israel.  Even the call of Ezekiel is representative of God’s call to His people knowing that they have been rebellious and haven’t listened to Him.  He even says it to Ezekiel, telling him that when he hears the message he should not be rebellious like the people of Israel had been.  Not only was Ezekiel to listen though, he was also to take it in, to “eat the scroll” and take it inside of himself.  Eating means making it a part of you that it may nourish and fill you, which is exactly what the Word of the Lord is supposed to do.  This very line has echos all the way back to the giving of the Law and the Shema. […]

  17. […] this remind you of anything?  For me is screams “SHEMA!!!”  Why do I say this?  Well… because as Jesus will point out in Matthew 22, this […]

  18. […] today when asked about the “greatest commandment.”  What does Jesus reference?  The Shema.  I encourage you to look at this again because it really brings to light what Jesus is talking […]

  19. […] blessing.  Indeed, it is the people that, through the living of their lives and the true “shema style” loving of God, find themselves in these situations that are promised blessings, perhaps not […]

  20. […] We continue along in the Gospel of John today and the first thing I think to write today is that it is such a shame that we didn’t talk about Jesus’ encounter with Nicodemus yesterday.  There is a whole lot of talk about the Spirit and all that goes along with being a believer in Christ and being born again.  What I realized though, as I was reading today is that much of what Jesus is talking about in His encounter with the Samaritan woman is an extension of this.  After a brief exchange, Jesus talks to her about receiving living water and about worshiping God “in Spirit and in Truth.”  These are all things that He had just talked about with Nicodemus.  Life in Christ, like worship isn’t about location, it isn’t about the things that you do, it isn’t even about how well you do them, it is TRULY about the inward change that takes place.  While there is certainly room for right worship and right works, they are not the main theme; they are simply a response to what God has done for us.  Really, in many ways, it is like the Shema! […]

  21. […] so too do we need Jesus Christ in our lives, as an integral part of our lives to survive (echos of the Shema anyone?).  We are not just those waiting to get to heaven, we are those working as the Body of […]

  22. […] anything else for that matter, that makes a Jew and Jew and a Gentile a Gentile.  It is (hear the shema echos here) a matter of the HEART!  ”Inward circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the […]

  23. […] and that it was faith that was the ultimate goal of the Law as well.  Paul echoes the words of the Shema here as well, talking about having the Word of God “in your mouth and in your heart.” […]

  24. […] that what has been given to us requires a response, and that response, one again, is that “Shema style” of living in which we are loving God with our heart, soul, mind and […]

  25. […] using spiritual gifts in such a way that we are (you guessed it) loving God and loving neighbor! The Shema!  When the use of spiritual gifts becomes more about showmanship than about worship, we find […]

  26. […] a long while back when we talked about the Shema and some of the meanings of the words “heart,” “soul,” and […]

  27. […] he says is at all in contrast with any other part of Scripture.  In fact, he references the Shema (or part of the greatest commandment) in his writing!  We aren’t talking about earning our […]

  28. […] of the church.  Ultimately this is lived out in the calling that we have had since the beginning, To Love God and To Love Neighbor.  This is the greatest commandment that Jesus testifies to and that even Israel was called to. […]

  29. […] His commandments for our lives.  What is God’s commandment for our lives?  Remember… Shema!!  We are called to love God and love our neighbor!  This is really what it all boils down to, […]

  30. […] Deuteronomy 6:5 – Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. […]

  31. […] Deuteronomy 7:9-11 – Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments. But those who hate him he will repay to their face by destruction; he will not be slow to repay to their face those who hate him.  Therefore, take care to follow the commands, decrees and laws I give you today. […]

  32. […] Deuteronomy 6:4 – Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. […]

  33. […] Deuteronomy 5:6-21 – “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. […]

  34. […] Deuteronomy 6:5 – Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. […]

  35. […] Deuteronomy 6:13 – Fear the Lord your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name. […]

  36. […] Deuteronomy 6:4-9 – Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. […]

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