The Shema
by Bobby Bruno

The Shema (Deut 6:4-5) was very important to the Israelites because God announced to His people that He was the only God they were to follow and no others. Deuteronomy 6:4-5 reads "Listen, Israel: The LORD is our God. The LORD is the only God. Love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength" (GW). Shema means obey in Hebrew. God wants His people to always obey loving Him with all their hearts, as the scripture says.

In Yoon Jong Yoo's article, Yoo says that the true meaning of shema is given in 1 Samuel 1-15, particularly in 15:22 which reads "Then Samuel said, "Is the LORD as delighted with burnt offerings and sacrifices as he would be with your obedience? To follow instructions is better than to sacrifice. To obey is better than sacrificing the fat of rams" (GW). I don't know why he chose that particular verse since he goes on to reveal other verses in chapters 1-15 that explain his thesis better than verse 22, such as 1 Samuel 7:3, 12:20, and 12:24. All of these verses speak about loving, serving, and returning to the Lord with all of their hearts.

Yoo then references other authors on their meaning of either shema or speaking about YHWH as being One where Hannah is referred to in her prayer in 1 Samuel 2:1-2, "Hannah prayed out loud, "My heart finds joy in the LORD. My head is lifted to the LORD. My mouth mocks my enemies. I rejoice because you saved {me}. There is no one holy like the LORD. There is no one but you, O LORD. There is no Rock like our God" (GW). Yoo concludes that "YHWH is One?" clearly expresses the faithfulness and everlasting qualities of God.

For me, these verses (Deut 6:4-5) are the centerpiece for all of Judaism simply because God IS the only God that the Jewish nation must follow for their lives to be exactly what God has called them to be. There is only one true God of the universe that created humanity for His pleasure and our salvation. As their God, He has promised to take care of them, grow them, and prosper them. Any other god they choose to follow will only cause the nation to fall under the ways of evil rulers who don't care if the Israelites lived or died.

For this reason, the nation of Israel had to keep themselves fully under the hand of YHWH. If for any reason they chose to follow their own path, that path would lead to their destruction as other gods were false and were usually attached to spiritually evil forces. Those, like Hannah, who knew that God was the One, true God prayed and found favor with Him. Those who followed other gods gave into the cultures around them and soon found themselves outside the protection of Almighty God. To obey (shema) God, as Deuteronomy 6:5 says to do, is to have the protection, love, and mercy of God in our lives at all times. This is the way God wants it to be for all of His people: connected and protected by the true God of the universe.


Yoo, Yoon Jong. (2011). The shema (deut 6:4-5) in the story of Samuel (1 samuel 1-15).

Bobby Bruno was saved 15 years ago in a way that left him no doubt that Jesus wanted him to reach others with His great and abounding love.  He started writing at the age of 12 and hasn't stopped since. He achieved Associates Degree in Biblical Studies from Ohio Christian University in early 2014.

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