For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation.
The Shema—Deuteronomy 6:4-9—is a part of scripture that remains of supreme importance to the Jewish faith to this day. It is called Shema because of the first word in verse four, “Hear” (the Hebrew word is shema). Observant Jews recite it aloud on a daily basis. It is also recited in the Jewish worship community every single Sabbath day (usually more than once). It is recited in community on every holy day as well (usually more than once). Many, many Jews (and Christians as well) take it very literally—to the point that they actually post Deuteronomy 6:4-9 on the front doors of their houses. It is a central text in the life and faith of the Jewish people. It always has been.
Most important in the Shema is the pronouncement that the Lord alone is God. He is the only God, and only he is God. As a result, the Lord God is the only one who is worthy of our praise. He is the only one who deserves to be honored as God, revered as God, lifted up as God, worshiped as God, recognized as God, and followed as God. His name is the only name that is high and holy. There is none like God—never has been, and never will be. This acknowledgment has implications. Primarily it calls people to follow God in obedience, imitation, and discipleship. It challenges us as human beings to set aside ourselves for the sake of living a fuller, better life. It is only in God that we experience what we were always intended to be—a people who are holy, beloved, and blessed. Enjoy this day that God has made.