Samuel was listening but could not understand the source of the voice. (I Samuel 3:7-11) Peter was listening but could not recognize the voice of the Lord. So only he said…. “If, it is you…” (Matthew 14:28) In doubt he sank. Peter failed to discern the voice of the Lord. A sheep recognizes the voice of the shepherd. (John 10:27) Listening skills are essential for all of us. Many marital problems could be solved if husbands and wives listen to one another.
Elihu was the only young person present when there were long discourses given by Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar, the three friends of Job and Job’s responses. Probably Job’s wife could have been the other participant. Though young, could have excused himself from boring religious debate; Elihu chose to be present and teaches us the skills of listening. “Behold, I waited for your words, I listened for your wise sayings, while you searched out what to say. I gave you my attention.” (Job 32:11,12)
1) Wait: Elihu waited for the words to proceed out of the mouths of the senior citizens. Many times, people disappear before listening. Either they are in hurry or want to escape responsibility.
2) Whaleling listening: There was a newspaper column: “Between the Lines.” The idea was to state that there were hidden meaning between the actual words written. In the same way, Elihu could see the friends of Job ‘searching’ for words. That means their thoughts could not be translated into words or human vocabulary was inadequate. That is true listening; understanding the person by observing gestures, utterances, tones, emotions, groans…etc.
3) Give attention: Elihu was focused. His mind did not wander. He was not mechanically listening but intentionally, with full concentration.
Listening is a spiritual discipline. Listening to God is essential for spiritual life and growth. Listening to others creates healthy relationships. Listening to people in need creates ministry opportunities. By not listening, we can become like scoffers who do not listen to reproof. (Proverbs 13:1)
Do I have the habit and discipline of listening?