What it Means to "Hear" God

(Deuteronomy 6:4-5) Get ready to savor some top-shelf sauce from one of the Bible's most famous passages: "Hear, O Israel..." (the Shema).

Megaphone on orange background with bold words: "Listen-up!"
Post image made with photography by Oleg Laptev on Unsplash

The following is the most famous prayer of the Bible (next to the Lord’s prayer). Its first word is “Hear,” which is the word Shema in Hebrew and the title for this prayer.

Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love Adonai your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.

Deuteronomy 6:4-5 (TLV)

Going unheard...

One of my biggest pet peeves is when I feel unheard.

As a teacher and father, the amount of younger people tuning me out definitely tests my (already thin) patience.

My wonderful wife, though, reminds me I can be guilty of the same thing. I can make snap judgments, assume intentions, and not really listen to someone’s needs before responding.

So, when God commands His people to listen to Him, what is He looking for? The Bible Project offers some clarity on the ancient meaning of Shema and this idea of hearing…

"Shema Word Study" by The Bible Project

I was shocked to hear that Hebrew does not have a direct word for “obey” like we do in English. Instead, Hebrew uses an intensifier by repeating “Shema, Shema” to make sure the listener hears in the heart and then acts appropriately.

"In Hebrew, listening and doing are two sides of the same coin."
- The Bible Project

Our obedience to God is not meant to be a robotic rehearsal of ethics or an empty palette of I-have-to’s.

Our hearing God means loving Him with all of our being.

As my wife and son would agree...


We all know action-less words are empty.

So, by hearing someone and then acting out of love, we get a glimpse of how God wants us to Shema Him.