June 20, 2020

Learning to Listen

Written by Tripp Prince

Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – June 20, 2020

But Samuel replied: “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. 1 Samuel 15:22

1 Samuel 15 is in many ways a case-study in what not to do. Early in the chapter we are alerted to the fact that something has gone terribly wrong. As God says in verse 10, “I regret that I made Saul king, for he has turned back from following me, and has not carried out my commands.” This verse shows us two things. First, the failure of man. Saul, like leaders who came before him and countless others after him, failed to do what he said he would do and turned away from the way of the Lord. Second, the compassion of God. In using the language of “regret”, we see the compassionate heart of God and the way in which he is grieved and pained when he sees his beloved children use their freedom to walk a path of self-destruction. This was his posture towards Saul, and it is his posture towards us every time we turn away. 

This grief and sorrow is also rooted in Saul’s failure to join God in his rescue mission of healing and restoring his creation. As it says in verse 18, “The Lord sent you on a mission.” God in his kindness longs to see us participating in the growth of his Kingdom on earth. Yet this invitation requires of us a faithful response, and if we are not intentional and proactive in tending to our spiritual lives we will, like Saul, fail to live out this beautiful invitation.

How, then, do we learn from Saul’s mistakes and begin to truly watch over the health of our own souls? This, I believe is where verse 22 is so important for us. The answer is not in doing more and more stuff for God. No, the delight of the Lord is first and foremost rooted in our ability to hear and obey his voice. And for us to learn to listen, we must ensure that every part of our life is open to the guiding hand of the Lord, including our intellect, our emotions, and our physical bodies.

As Pete Scazzero reminds us in his book Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, “Ignoring any aspect of who we are as men and women made in God’s image always results in destructive consequences-in our relationship with God, with others, and with ourselves.” This is the challenge before us today, to take time and look for the signs of emotional unhealth in our own lives, the places where we have been given a mission by God but our own inattentiveness blinds us to our failures and renders us ineffective, empty, and worn out. As we do this, we learn to listen afresh and allow the Lord to lead us from places of immaturity and brokenness into true freedom and peace.


Father, teach us to tend to every aspect of life with you, most importantly learning to listen and obey. Amen.


Do you have a rhythm of daily prayer in which you quiet your heart and listen for the voice of the Lord?

Related Reading

Isaiah 30:21; Jeremiah 33:3; 1 Samuel 3:10

Enjoy Boyd’s newest and well loved 40 day devotional book: Wisdom For Living. Wise living is all about the Lord Jesus Christ. What is His best? What is His will?

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