Sometimes when we read the bible we take for granted that we know what a word means. Sometimes this is easy enough, words like sit, kick, and bite, are pretty straight forward. Others are more challenging to pin down, even for a time, words like forgiveness, evil, enemy, charity.
In psalm 78 we read “Give ear, o my people.” Let’s pretend for a moment that the latter part is straight forward and we can agree on who God is referring to when he says, “my people.” I know, it’s a stretch, but let’s imagine we can simply assert we are among those being addressed:) We still need to dig into the first bit “give ear.”
We know, do we not, that this does not mean we are to cut off an ear as an outward assertion of our faith. We believe that this “just” means to listen to him. So we can move on.
I am a father of three lads and I know that they often “give ear” and then promptly ignore, pretend to not hear, or hear but then continue exactly as they had been prior to my speaking. I know this gets me upset, especially if I have something important to say or some urgent message for them.
Giving ear is more than simply hearing; it has to do with investigating and then acting upon what we hear. We might hear a matter and then need to reflect upon it, struggle with it, look at it from a variety of angles to understand what God is trying to get us to understand and what, if anything, He is trying to get us to do. We are imperfect and God will, of course, get as angry as I can get with my kids when we don’t really listen. Still, God calls us to try and so we, being his people, will try.
My suggestion is that we can hear God in any number of ways, bible reading, prayer, and meditation being only the most obvious avenues and most fruitful in my life. They may or may not work for you, I know something will, though it may take some experimentation on your part.
There are at least two questions that spring to mind here. First, do we believe God speaks to us today? Secondly, are we open to hearing from him?
The fact that we must be told to give ear suggests that there are going to be times when we are not so open. God knows this, we do not need to beat ourselves up about it. And yet, we can be intentional in opening ourselves up to the moment of the spirit.
One of the great advantages of a meditation practice is that we become more attuned to God speaking, not only in our meditative times but all the time, when we walk by someone and feel a holy nudge, or when someone speaks to us with a strange authority we recognize as divine.
As people who want to give ear to God we do well to accept his challenge and find ways in which to do so. His calling to this guarantees our success if only we would submit ourselves to the effort.