But whoever listens to me will dwell in safety, and be at ease without fear of harm.
-Proverbs 1:33 NIV
The wooded area near our home was a roosting place for bobwhites. These pudgy members of the quail family have a distinctive, one-of-a-kind whistle. The two long syllables cover a full octave as they warble their own name, ”bobWHITE” “bobWHITE.”
Only once do I recall them venturing to walk through our yard. Normally, these shy, ground dwelling birds hid in the dead leaves and brush. If we wanted a close encounter with a bobwhite, my sisters and I would sit in the cool grass, stop all conversation and listen intently, hoping to hear their song.
Sometimes, our stillness was rewarded
Sometimes, it was not. But the moments spent waiting quietly taught me the value of listening.
Our world is noisy. Cars, planes, TV, video games, cell phones, music, music, music. The noise drowns out the other sounds of life and we rarely even notice the sound of a barking dog, a squeaking door, kids playing outdoors, the song of a robin or the wind in the trees. When we listen carefully, these everyday noises are music to our ears and souls.
In Proverbs 1, King Solomon talked to his son about the importance of listening – of listening to God, of listening for wisdom’s direction.
Some people never listen. Solomon described some of these wisdom-deaf people as complacent. The complacent are self-satisfied, self-congratulatory and often blind to the dangers ahead. It would take too much energy, too much time to gain wisdom or to listen to wise advice that goes against their own self-serving opinions. Solomon lamented that the “complacency of fools would destroy them.”
Others, he labeled simple. They just continue down the same agonizing path, even if it is the wrong one, never stopping to consider their ways or to search for truth. Their future is as bleak as the destiny of the complacent. “The waywardness of the simple will kill them.”
For both, the pain and eventual destruction is a self-inflicted wound.The drama of their lives is of their own making. Some (not all) of their emotional, relational or financial pain could have been avoided.
If only, they had listened. If only, they had turned to God and listened to His Wisdom and Counsel.
In Solomon-like fashion, he offers his son this simple proverb, a proverb that if taken to heart will guard and protect his son. Referring to Wisdom, he says, “But whoever listens to me will dwell in safety, and be at ease without fear of harm.” Proverbs 1:33 NIV
For anyone who seeks the Wisdom of God, who listens to His Word, who listens for godly direction, there is a degree of safety and peace. They are protected from the self-harm that comes with complacency, foolishness and wrong choices.
Listening is hard work. Quieting ourselves to listen to the sounds of nature is difficult enough. How much more difficult to quiet ourselves to listen for the voice of God.
There is more noise than ever. There are so many voices calling to our children and grandchildren, offering “simple” but dangerous solutions to the problems of their lives, always encouraging them to take the easy but lethal route.
I have my own paraphrase of the principle of Proverbs 1:32,33 that I want to share with my grandsons and granddaughters. Listening for the voice and direction of God can limit unnecessary pain and drama in your life.
Having quiet moments can teach our children to pay attention to the small details of life. Learning to be still can teach them to listen for the voice of God and to be willing to do the hard work of finding wisdom.
Think and Do
1. Turn off all electronic sources of noise. What do you hear? The tick of a clock? The neighbor’s dog?
2. Where do you hear best from God? When? How can you share that with your grandchildren?
3. For young children, you might want to read The Listening Walk by Paul Showers. Then, take a walk. On the way home, talk about what you have heard. Talk for just a moment about listening and about the importance of listening to God.
4. Take an older child fishing or on a hike. These activities are perfect opportunities to be quiet. Enjoy a brief conversation about listening – especially listening to God.