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Learn to Listen!

February 17, 2012


‘Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching’. Proverbs 1:8



Some research at the University of Kansas shows that there is a direct correlation between the academic success of a child and the number of words spoken to a child a day – the magic number is 30,000 words a day! The book of Proverbs is written as words spoken by a parent to a child and the implication is that the parent is God. Proverbs is God’s words spoken to us and is for our development (spiritual, emotional and physical!). This is true not just of the book of Proverbs but all scripture. But as every parent knows speaking words to children is no good unless the child is interacting with you and listening. And so the proverb for us today is the second principle of reading the book of Proverbs – listen to them!

What does it mean to listen to proverbs? Firstly it is to hear them by reading them or hearing them read. But listening is more than hearing as anyone knows who talks to someone who is not really interested in the conversation. So to listen is to value the person speaking and to value what they have to say. The book of proverbs emphasises this in the second part of chapter 1 by personifying wisdom. Wisdom  calls out to us and we ignore, disregard and undervalue her. God speaks wisdom to us through this book of Proverbs and all of scripture but we do not treasure or value it and so do not really listen to what it says. Instead we listen to the voices of sinners (1:10-19) which as wisdom is personified so perhaps the words of sinners is personified as the adulteress in 2:16-22 which lead us away from God with seductive and earthly wisdom.

So we need to hear God’s words and also value them and treasure them. Thirdly we need to be careful not to speak our words over God’s word or as Proverbs 3:7 ‘Do not be wise in your own eyes.’ We can easily approach God’s word arrogantly thinking we know what the answer is and so not truly listening. We need to allow God’s words speak to us. We must be careful then how we read Proverbs and all scripture, not to rush through it but quietly allow it to speak to us as we read it through slowly, meditate on it, reread and look for God to lead you into new insight and revelation.

Finally there is no point listening without putting into practice what we have heard. Sometimes God’s words can rebuke us  (see 1:25) and we do not listen because we are angry by what is said. How often do I not listen to valid criticism about being a husband, father or minister because I am angered by what is being said. The same is true with God’s words we fail to listen because we become angry about what they say or the implications. We need to avoid getting angered by God’s words but to listen and put them into practice.

If we truly mange this we will find God’s words to be treasure and you will find every good path for your life (2:9). James in the New Testament repeats these principles in reading God’s word when he says ‘Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.’ (James 1:19) Determine to put this Proverb into practice by reading God’s word, giving valuable time to it and allowing it to speak into your life and situation and you will truly be blessed.

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One Comment
  1. Tope permalink

    Am encouraged and blessed

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