Listen & Obey

My Listening Ears by niclindh, on Flickr

When my girls were younger, my daily admonition was to “Listen and obey!” I recall explaining to one of my daughters, “If you simply listen for Mommy’s voice, and obey what she asks you to do, you will stay out of trouble.” I was trying to convey that their life would be much easier that day if they would just listen and obey Mom. Unfortunately, such simple advice can be difficult to follow.

In the first few chapters of I Samuel, we see two contrasting examples of listening. At the end of chapter 2, we see Eli, the priest, admonish his sons for their evil ways in leading the people of Israel. In verse 25, we learn that “his sons did not listen to their father’s advice.” A couple of verses later, we read a prophecy against Eli’s house and that his sons will both die on the same day. Eli’s sons, Hophni and Phinehas, chose to not listen to their father and continued to lead sinful lives. As a result, their lives will be cut short and Eli’s family will be cut off.

In the next chapter, I Samuel 3, we read about Samuel hearing a voice. Three times, he goes to Eli’s side to respond, but it was not Eli who called. Finally Eli tells Samuel that the next time he hears the voice call, to respond “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” (v. 9). Samuel does as he was told and in verse 21 we learn that as a result, “The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh, and there he revealed himself to Samuel through is word.” Samuel went on to anoint the next two kings of Israel (Saul and David). When he died, all Israel mourned for him (I Sam. 25:1).

Synonyms

In both of these examples, the simple act of listening also implied obeying. They are not separate things, but one in the same. If you listen, you will obey. If you do not listen, you will not obey.

It can be hard to listen. Our world is full of things competing for our attention–television, radio, errands, chores, and so much more. With all this noise around, it is hard to hear the voices that count. I have noticed my daughter will tune in to a show on the television and it is hard to get her attention. I either have to break that focus, usually by yelling her name, or remove the object of her focus by turning it off. Then I have her attention and I know she will be able to listen.

Then I look at myself and wonder if I am taking time to listen. Am I putting myself in environments where listening is easy? It is hard. Between work, family activities, chores, and more, it can be hard to find time to simply sit and listen for that voice that is calling my name.

How about you? How do you find time to listen?

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