The art of listening

deuteronomy-6-4-5

The Verse of the Day for February 1, 2017 is found in Deuteronomy 6:4-5 (New Living Translation):

“Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.

This passage is part of the Shema, a daily prayer spoken in the Jewish tradition. The Hebrew word Shema, which means “hear,” begins this most important request from God in verse 4. The entire prayer includes verses 4-9.  The New Living Translation renders the word shema  “Listen”:

“Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone.And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

The opening imperative “Listen” brings to mind a discussion in a public speaking class taught at Carolina College of Biblical Studies. Most amazingly, the textbook for the class, The Art of Public Speaking, contained a chapter on the importance of listening as an essential part of the speech communication process. The presentation called “The Art of Listening” included this poem:

The Art of Listening

God has something to say to you,

God has something to say.

Listen, Listen, Pay close attention.

God has something to say.

Children’s Song

                              

Listen, listen, my children: hear with the inner ear.

Tune your ears to hear in the center of your heart.

I will whisper cherished secrets as you come near.

To listen intently and obey is an art,

Practiced and perfected day by day.

As you hide my Word in the center of your heart,

I perform and bring to pass each word that I say.

In my unfolding Kingdom, you too have a part,

For to walk in love is the more excellent way.

Partake of my promises and consume my Word.

As precious as life-giving water, hold it dear

And do my will, proving all things that you have heard.

Listen intently and obey: Perfect this art.

Listen, listen, my children: hear with the inner ear.

This accompanying illustration further reinforces the message found in the Verse of the Day

HEART

HEAR

EAR

 ART

H*E*A*R*T

The music group Seeds Family Worship offers “Teach them” (Deuteronomy 6:4-7) to close our comments on the Shema:

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