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Daily Devotional

The Wise Listen

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Scripture: Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance. Prov 1:5 (NIV)

Observation:  These verses are the book’s own introduction to its nature and purpose. The contents of the book as a whole can be described as proverbs, which have the two main quite different forms noted in the introduction. This in itself shows that proverb is a word of broader and more varied application than the English word ‘proverb’. To us a proverb is a means of comparison. The Bible, however, uses the word more broadly. In different passages it can refer to a prophetic oracle (Nu. 23:7), an object lesson (Dt. 28:37), a saying (1 Sa. 10:12), a poetic discourse (Jb. 27:1), and other forms of speech. It thus suggests something more intense, vigorous and provocative than a straightforward saying. (New Bible commentary: 21st century edition. 1994 (D. A. Carson, R. T. France, J. A. Motyer & G. J. Wenham, Ed.) (4th ed.). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press.)

Application: Many years ago I read a book entitled “The Lost Art of Listening.”  It may seem strange that someone would write a book about listening when it is such a basic skill.  One person talks; the other listens. It's so basic that we take it for granted. Unfortunately, most of us think of ourselves as better listeners than we actually are. Why do we so often fail to connect when speaking with our spouse or children, colleagues, or friends?  One of the reasons is because often our emotional reactions get in the way of real communication.

The writer of the book of Proverbs reminds us that we actually become wiser by listening, much more so than by talking.  When we listen to try to understand the message that the other person is trying to convey we will have a better chance of actually getting the message correctly.  Someone wrote that, “We hear only half of what is said to us, understand only half, believe only half of that,  and remember only half of that;” no wonder we have such difficulty communicating with others.

So what if we begin today with listening to understand?  Pay attention to the feelings conveyed.  Do not try to correct the details or the facts expressed. . . listen for what feelings may be behind those words and then repeat them back to see if you what you heard is what the other person meant to say.  Sometimes the acknowledgment of those feelings, and repeating back what you heard can open the doors wide open to better communication.

A Prayer You May Say: Father, helps us to use our ears, our mind, and our heart more often than we use our mouth so that we may hear, listen, and understand what our loved ones are trying to tell us.

Used by permission of Adventist Family Ministries, North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.


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