Selective Hearing

“The word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no widespread revelation” (1 Samuel 3:1)

Have you ever been speaking to someone and found that they have been distracted and are not listening to what you are saying? In such a situation do you continue speaking hoping for a return of interest or do you cease speaking? The Bible reveals that God will sometimes keep speaking waiting for someone to hear but at other times He simply stops speaking. There are also times when He stops listening.

When we read that Isaiah responded to the call of the Lord it was because he had a heart to hear and was listening. If God was speaking only to Isaiah He would have said something more personal. By asking a general question, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” (Isaiah 6:8) it appears that this is a question being asked of all men. Only one who has a heart to hear and is listening will hear the call as Isaiah did. This is why Jesus often said something to the effect of “He who has an ear, let Him hear …” as He does to the seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3.

The problem for Israel immediately prior to Samuel’s emergence as a prophet of God was that the men were spiritually deaf or had a very limited range of selective hearing.

Why should God speak to people who have turned a deaf ear to Him? Why should He speak to people who only want to hear what pleases them? Why should He speak at all if everyone is distracted by the pleasures of this world? “The word from the Lord was rare in those days” because no one was willing to hear what He had to say. It is no different today. People who only want their ears “tickled” to make them feel good while being bad will not hear what God has to say. They will listen only to those who say what they want to hear but will not hear those who say what they need to hear. They will not hear from the prophets of God who say, “Thus says the Lord …”

Because Israel was resolute in its deafness we read, “And you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, and the Lord will not hear you in that day” (1 Samuel 8:18). Israel wanted a king like the other nations; we want medical healing, prosperity and a life of comfort and ease for everyone. Jesus only promised tribulation and trouble that will, if He tarries, end in bodily death.

Our prayers reveal that we are often telling Jesus how He should run His kingdom (James 4:3) and yet at the same time we are slow to listen to His instructions for living in His kingdom. Why should He hear us when we do not pay Him any attention? Paying attention is more than mental assent; it is doing as He instructs and commands.

Let us pray with all our hearts, “Lord, in grace for the sake of Jesus, grant us ears to hear what you are saying and do it.” This will mean closing our mouths while He speaks.

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