The verb shema: “to hear,” “to listen,” is used almost 100 times in the book we are reading right now, Deuteronomy. It shows up in our passage today, Deuteronomy 4:1, “And now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the rules that I am teaching you, and do them, that you may live, and go in and take possession of the land that the Lord, the God of your fathers, is giving you.”
Some translations use “hear” instead of “listen.” Have you ever discussed the difference, perhaps with your parents? For me, it began something like this: Me: “I heard you!” Them: “Yes, but I don’t think you were listening,” and for the next hour (it seemed) I learned the difference. When Jesus said (repeatedly), “He who has ears to hear, let him hear,” he was speaking as a parent. “Listen!”
Jesus said, “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me” (John 14:21). That’s listening. Hearing and obeying, receiving what God has said to us and allowing it to penetrate and shape my heart and change my life. The words of God, “Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people'” (Deuteronomy 4:6).
All I have to do to hear is be there when a sound is made. It takes no effort on my part. To listen, however, means I pay attention. I show up. All of me.
My God, thank You for talking to me, for writing me. Your Words give me life. They lead me into the future, they give me hope, they shape my character. They are good.
May I be one who listens, and may I prove it by what I do. May I let Your Word have its way in my life so that my life will be different, that my life will reflect You, that others will see in me Your glory, Your goodness, Your grace.