Listen

New ears You have dug for me… Psalm 40:6

One of my many overused phrases is that ‘you have two ears and one mouth, so you should listen twice as much as you talk.’ Because most people don’t. Why is it so hard to listen? We even set this trait apart in relationships as extra special, “he’s a good listener,” we’ll say. Listening seems to be one of those rare traits that fewer and fewer people possess.

Many hear but few listen.

Poor listening is another symptom of the selfish ‘me-ism’ that plagues our culture. People no longer consider one another, no longer really focus on what is being said, instead we just compose our next thought.

You – “Hi, how are you?”
Me – “Good. You?”
You – “I’m trying to get that paper written for Smith.”
Me – “I ran out of gas on my way in this morning, had to call Triple A.”
You – “I’ll never get it turned in by midnight, I’ve got to work after school.”
Me – “Took the guy over an hour to bring me a can of gas. Missed History and half of English.”
You – “At least I’ve got A’s on most of the tests.”
Me – “Ok, well, good talking to you. See you later, huh?”
You – “Yeah, later.”

Sound familiar? When it comes to things of God, the Bible, spiritual conversation or receiving instruction, we’re just as bad, probably worse. Jesus dictated letters to the Apostle John for seven churches in Asia Minor and in every case He admonishes them with the same phrase, “He that has an ear to hear, let him hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches.” (Revelation 2:7,11,17,29; 3:6,13,22) Since people are bad listeners we tend to repeat things that are important. Jesus repeats this seven times – “If you have ears to hear, listen to the Spirit. Listen closely to what I’m telling you.

Because most of us, even Christians, are not spiritually minded people. We are worldly, materialistic, physically minded, and we consider how things will affect us physically, selfishly, rather than consider things carefully, spiritually. We haven’t cultivated a tender, listening heart because we’re too consumed with this physical, temporal life of just getting by.

So what happens is we miss what God is saying. In 1 Corinthians 2:14 it says, “But people who aren't spiritual can't receive these truths from God's Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can't understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means.”

We don’t think we miss it, because we overestimate our spiritual intelligence, but we miss it just the same and don’t know that we just don’t know.

What we need is the same thing the Psalmist needed one day in the midst of a life doing things for God. He’s been bringing offerings and making sacrifices and staying busy when all the time God wanted something else, something more. God wanted him to listen. So God gave him new ears.

There’s a little phrase sandwiched in a verse seemingly about something else that should make us each pause, focus our attention toward our Father in heaven, and ask Him to give us the exact same thing.
“Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required.” Psalm 40:6

See the phrase, “mine ears hast thou opened”? The last part, ‘hast thou opened,’ literally reads, ‘you have dug.’ Dug, like with a shovel and pic. Or bored, as with a drill-bit boring into a piece of wood.

Loosely paraphrased the verse could be, “I was busy doing things for God when suddenly He pinned me down and dug new ears into my hard head, and I could finally hear Him!”

Ears are kind of funny looking if you think about it, but a head with no ears would seem really odd, yet that is what I picture here, a smooth, thick skull, hard and flat on each side.

We need to be better listeners, both with regards to people, because God has called us to serve and care for them, and to God, because He doesn’t yell. God’s voice is gentle and you’ll miss it if you are caught up in yourself. Repent. Ask Him to ‘dig new ears’ in that thick head of yours, so you can finally listen and know the height and depth and breadth of His great love for you.

Sincerely,

Ed

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