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Posts Tagged ‘Scripture’

There is a funny line in the Jackie Chan-Chris Tucker 1998 movie, Rush Hour, which has become part of our family history.  Tucker is welcoming Chan to Los Angeles, but Chan is silent and acting like he doesn’t understand a single word Tucker is speaking.   Raising his voice, Tucker asks, “Do you speaka any English?  Do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth?”  I have modified that question over the years and tend to use it when I think Becky or my children are not listening to me.  I’ll ask, “Do you not hear the words that are coming out of my mouth?”

Well, they usually hear me.  They just don’t always listen.  Hearing and listening are two different things.  When you hear something, it can go in one ear and out the other.  My kids would attest to that!  But listening requires thought.  To listen to someone is to give one’s attention to what that person says, even to take notice of and act on what that person says.

This helps me to understand what Jesus once said: “He who has ears to hear, let him hear” (Mt. 13:9).  In the past I wondered, “We all have ears, don’t we?  How could we not hear?”  Perhaps Jesus is saying, “Let the one who hears, listen!”  Our Lord invites and commands his followers to listen to what he has to say.  To pay attention to it.  To act on it.

“Be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves,” Scripture teaches (Jas. 1:22).  How would we who hear God’s word deceive ourselves?  By thinking that hearing is the same as listening or doing.  It isn’t.  James is saying that there is little value – dare I say, no value – in hearing God’s word if there is not the attendant intention to practice it.  When God speaks, we should do more than hear.  We should listen!

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The Value of a Song

Although I don’t always succeed, I try to spend some time in Scripture every day.  Perhaps one of these days I will share the daily quiet time regimen I am now following.  And, I would like to hear what others of you are doing to come daily and intentionally into God’s presence (although in some sense, we never leave it) and to listen to him.

Anyway, today’s reading and reflection was in Deuteronomy 31.  In this text God is commanding Moses to write a song and teach it to Israel.  This “song” is a poem which we know as the Song of Moses found in Deuteronomy 32.  According to Peter C. Craigie in his commentary on the book of Deuteronomy, normally ancient Hebrew poetry is introduced as having been sung (see Ex. 15:1; Judg. 5:1).  In Dueteronomy 31-32, the song is said to have been spoken.  It may be that the song was recited initially and that in this manner it was taught to the people with a view to being sung by them subsequently.

At any rate, this song that Moses was to teach Israel was to be remembered from one generation to the next.  It was never to be forgotten (Deut. 31:21).  Why?  Apparently, because this song would serve a useful purpose.  It would serve as a “witness” against Israel (vv. 19, 21).  God told Moses that he knew that eventually Israel would break their covenant with him and serve other gods.  (As Moses is preparing to leave his people for Mt. Nebo and an appointment with death this announcement must have broken his heart!)  When they did turn away from the Lord who alone was responsible for their many blessings, he wanted them to remember this song.  Perhaps the memory of this song would keep them from moving farther from him.

Just here, I like what Craigie writes about the Song of Moses: “The goodness of God is perceived in the gift of the song, for a part of its function would be to warn the people of their emerging intentions (to leave the Lord) and turn them back to God before it was too late.  The role of the Song of Moses in the life of ancient Israel portrays clearly at least one of the roles the Bible plays in our Christian life in the modern world.”

Yes, the gift of song is surely a gift of God!  I’m thinking now of hymns committed to memory that I have sung all of my life, songs and hymns which continue to teach me and keep me in the Lord’s way.  I’m thinking of newer songs recently learned which remind me of God’s love, goodness, and faithfulness.  Thank you, God, for these songs, and please keep them in my heart and on my tongue!

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