Recently, I’ve been feeling impatient with those who don’t appear to listen well, only to find that I myself haven’t been listening so well — not carefully considering challenges before responding (Pr 18:13), allowing myself to be distracted by commotion in my soul rather than focusing on clear communication.
So often, the faults we think we see in others are simply projections of our own. (Ro 2:1) God gives us ears for a reason; we should use them. (Mt 11:15)
A listing ship is leaning; to enlist is to engage, sign up, commit. To listen, pay attention, to lean in with the heart and mind, to focus intently (Pr 4:20), requires humility and strength, a certain freedom from agenda and bias, being unthreatened and receptive, not agitated and fearful but quiet, calm, alert and sober.
God calls us to be swift to hear (Ja 1:19), to listen eagerly, deliberately, intentionally. He can speak to us through anyone, sharpening and refining us in any situation.
I need a reminder that I’ll give account to YHWH for every word (Mt 12:36); whether speaking or writing, I should should check every impulse, weigh every syllable, seeking God’s pleasure (Ps 19:14) and assistance. (Col 4:6)
My lips aren’t mine (Ps 12:4), they’ve been bought with the blood of Messiah (1Co 6:19-20), I’m just a steward of them now.
Even in prayer, fewer words are better. (Ec 5:2) He knows what I need, and chattering before Him is evidently being inappropriately familiar, disrespectful.
I’m encouraged to speak with deliberation, almost reluctantly (Ja 1:19), as if each word is costing me. When my words are streaming forth en masse, unweighed, unchecked, it’s a sure sign of sin (Pr 10:19), that I’m not speaking with purpose to edify, encourage, build up, and move others toward God. (Ep 4:29)
God often speaks of His laws and commandments as testimonies(Ps 119:2), precepts(Ps 119:4), statutes(Ps 119:5), and judgments. (Ps 119:7) It’s all God’s Word (Ps 119:9) revealing God’s Way(Ps 119:37), so what’s He telling us about it through these various terms?
Our testimony is what we declare about our personal experience. Since God experiences completely and perfectly, His witness and testimony is reliable, making us wise. (Ps 19:7b) He flawlessly proclaims the nature of metaphysical reality through His commandments (Ps 119:138), enlightening our eyes. (Ps 19:8b)
A preceptis a moral principle or guide that may be found within an instruction or law; we discover them within God’s commandments as He opens our eyes. (Ps 119:18) For example, the Sabbath command contains precepts relating to rest (Ex 20:10), work (Ex 20:9), setting aside time for communion with God and others (Le 23:3), holiness (Ex 20:8), life cadence and rhythm (Is 66:23), God’s creative work (Ex 20:11), human value and equality (Mk 2:27), servant leadership (Ge 2:2-3), God’s prophetic timeline (Col 2:17), and of salvation itself. (He 4:10-11) We find understanding through YHWH’s precepts as He teaches us how to think clearly(Ps 119:104), and we search them out within His commands knowing that these are His testimonies, perfectly revealing His nature, way and wisdom to us.
The statutes of YHWH are His specific commands and laws, and the words that perfectly express them. (Ps 19:7a) These laws are flawless in both content and scope (Ps 119:96); if we add to them, take away from them, or alter them in any way we diminish this perfection. (De 4:2) As we hide these words in our heart(Deu 6:6) and meditate on His statutes (Ps 119:48), YHWH changes our souls (Ps 19:7a), teaching us the nature of sin (Ps 119:11), and moving our hearts to rejoice in Him. (Ps 19:8a)
The judgments of YHWH reveal His discernment, His analysis, His altogether righteous estimation of every motive, thought and action. (Ps 19:9) His understanding is infinite (Ps 147:5), knowing all eventualities and possibilities about all things at all times. Each of His commandments is thus both a testimony about, and a perfectly just evaluation of some dimension of spiritual reality; God’s commands are windows into His ultimate righteous accusation of the wicked (Jn 5:45), as well as His willingness to quicken usall to fellowship with Himself. (Ps 119:156)
YHWH’s testimonies are profoundly wonderful; our souls should deeply cherish them (Ps 119:129), sticking to them like glue (Ps 119:31), valuing them above all riches (Ps 119:72), meditating on them (Ps 119:99), delighting in them and drawing our counsel from them. (Ps 119:24) Taken together they form one law, a single perfect testimony of metaphysical reality, eternally righteous (Ps 119:144), applicable in every age, founded forever. (Ps 119:152) We should ask God to incline our hearts to them (Ps 119:36), and seek the regular fellowship of those who know them well. (Ps 119:79)