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 between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates (Deut 6:4-9).
This week’s memory verse is an expansion on the one the kiddos originally learned when they were younger. About 5 years ago, they learned “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” (Deut 6:4-5).
We decided to add a little more to it this year for a few reasons. First it was pretty short and very similar to last week’s verse. Second, they are bigger kids now, and can handle a longer verse. Third, adding the extra verses helps to keep the context of the passage, getting at the original intent of the Scripture more accurately. And fourth (now I guess that’s officially more than a “couple”), we are interested in the history behind the memorization of this passage.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 is known as The Shema, because the first word of the passage in Hebrew is Shema. This passage has been prayed twice daily, in the morning and evening, by devout Jews for thousands of years. There are two other passages (Deut 11:13-21 and Num 15:37-41) that are prayed daily as well.
In Hebrew, the word Shema means Hear, as in “Hear O, Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one” (vs. 4). But Shema also means Do. You can see how I became interested in this verse. Hearing and Doing are the key components to obedience which allows us to build our house upon the rock, as Jesus explains in Matthew 7:24-25. But now we can begin to understand why Jesus used this language, of Hearing and Doing, in the first place. It has been God’s plan for us all along.
Thank you to my friend Becky! Last year about this time, when I began to work on The Family Workshop, Becky shared a book with me. The book is by Lois Tverberg: Listening to the Language of the Bible: Hearing It Through Jesus’ Ears. Becky made the connection for me between the Hearing and Doing, that I was already interested in, and The Shema. Becky started teaching The Shema to her son when he was just two years old.
In Listening to the Language of the Bible: Hearing It Through Jesus’ Ears, Lois Tverberg shares that Hebrew language is very different than English. Hebrew has fewer words than English. so the words carry more meaning. And in Hebrew, “the same word is often used to describe the mental activity and its intended result.”
So our English translation of Shema as “Hear” is inadequate to convey the meaning of the original Hebrew, since “Shema” has the added meaning of “Do”. Something important is lost in translation…that Hearing must lead to Doing. That they are not two different responses to God’s Word, but one. Hearing and Doing are inseparable.
I want to teach this important concept to my children: that it is by Hearing the Word and Doing it that they will grow in the love and knowledge of God. The Scriptures give us a wealth of information about how the LORD made us. We are designed to live according to His plan. He gives us His Word in order that we may know Him, and be able to serve Him, and live in fellowship with Him and others.
As I explained about The Shema to my kiddos, they became interested in it, and wanted to learn it for themselves. And so it became our memory verse for this week. Hey, if a two year old can do it…
We know this to be true: It is part of the LORD’s plan for us, His wisdom revealed, that we would plant His Word in our hearts, so that it might bear the fruit which enables us to walk in His ways.
For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘˜Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘˜Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it (Deut 30:11-14).
We hope that by memorizing the Word, God will keep it in our hearts and mouths, so that we can do it. I hope the same for you!
Britta ~ I am justAgirl…just like you!