Learning to Listen

Now Samuel died, and all Israel gathered for his funeral. They buried him at his house in Ramah.
Then David moved down to the wilderness of Maon. 2 There was a wealthy man from Maon who owned property near the town of Carmel. He had 3,000 sheep and 1,000 goats, and it was sheep-shearing time. 3 This man’s name was Nabal, and his wife, Abigail, was a sensible and beautiful woman. But Nabal, a descendant of Caleb, was crude and mean in all his dealings.
4 When David heard that Nabal was shearing his sheep, 5 he sent ten of his young men to Carmel with this message for Nabal: 6 “Peace and prosperity to you, your family, and everything you own! 7 I am told that it is sheep-shearing time. While your shepherds stayed among us near Carmel, we never harmed them, and nothing was ever stolen from them. 8 Ask your own men, and they will tell you this is true. So would you be kind to us, since we have come at a time of celebration? Please share any provisions you might have on hand with us and with your friend David.” 9 David’s young men gave this message to Nabal in David’s name, and they waited for a reply.
10 “Who is this fellow David?” Nabal sneered to the young men. “Who does this son of Jesse think he is? There are lots of servants these days who run away from their masters. 11 Should I take my bread and my water and my meat that I’ve slaughtered for my shearers and give it to a band of outlaws who come from who knows where?”
12 So David’s young men returned and told him what Nabal had said. 13 “Get your swords!” was David’s reply as he strapped on his own. Then 400 men started off with David, and 200 remained behind to guard their equipment.
14 Meanwhile, one of Nabal’s servants went to Abigail and told her, “David sent messengers from the wilderness to greet our master, but he screamed insults at them. 15 These men have been very good to us, and we never suffered any harm from them. Nothing was stolen from us the whole time they were with us. 16 In fact, day and night they were like a wall of protection to us and the sheep. 17 You need to know this and figure out what to do, for there is going to be trouble for our master and his whole family. He’s so ill-tempered that no one can even talk to him!” 1 SAMUEL 25:1-17 NLT

In order to become a listener I must learn to:

Value listening

Let the wise listen to these proverbs and become even wiser. Let those with understanding receive guidance PROVERBS 1:5 NLT

Close my mouth

Spouting off before listening to the facts is both shameful and foolish. PROVERBS 18:13 NLT
Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak! JAMES 1:19 NLT

Listen for wisdom

Listen as wisdom calls out! Hear as understanding raises her voice! PROVERBS 8:1 NLT
Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to others. PROVERBS 12:15 NLT

Listen to both sides

He who tells his story first makes people think he is right, until the other comes to test him. PROVERBS 18:17 NLV

Listen to people with experience

Past generations – The glory of the young is their strength; the gray hair of experience is the splendor of the old. PROVERBS 20:29 NLT
Parents – My child, listen when your father corrects you. Don’t neglect your mother’s instruction. PROVERBS 1:8 NLT

Listen to criticism

If you listen to constructive criticism, you will be at home among the wise. PROVERBS 15:31 NLT
If you reject discipline, you only harm yourself; but if you listen to correction, you grow in understanding. PROVERBS 15:32 NLT

Listen to God

I listen carefully to what God the LORD is saying, for he speaks peace to his faithful people. But let them not return to their foolish ways. PSALM 85:8 NLT

Community group questions

  1. When was a time when you have felt unheard? What was that experience like for you?
  2. Has there been a time that you would have avoided pain and suffering if you would have listened to God or others?
  3. How would you rate your listening skills? How does your group rate them? Take some time to really “listen” to their feedback.
  4. What are some practical things you can do to improve your listening skills?
  5. Spend some time thinking on Psalm 85:8 above. How can you make sure you are listening for God’s voice?
  6. One of the best ways to confirm God’s voice is to filter what you’re hearing through what God has already said in the Bible. How can you improve your ability to hear God’s voice through the use of the Bible?

Personal Reflection Guide

Find a quiet place where you can be alone with God. Think back over a couple of your recent conversations with others, including one that felt good and one that didn’t. Reflect back on them, focusing on whether or not you felt heard. Now do the same thing again, focusing on whether or not you really heard the other person. Read back through the main sermon points, asking God to reveal to you which ideas are a struggle for you, and may have contributed to any challenges you’ve had with listening to God and others. What resonated with you? What challenged you? As you move through your week, play close attention to the conversations you are having and ask God to help you as you practice listening to him and others.

My Notes