Hearing but not always Listening
I know from experience it’s possible to hear someone speak to you but not listen to what’s being said. Many times in my life I have been guilty of hearing but not listening. In casual conversation this could be just an innocuous ignoring what someone says. But not listening can become a major issue when a person chooses to not tune in to the conversation of others. This is especially true when advice, opinions and counsel are being given but the one asking is not listening.
Not listening can be a habit. But, not listening can also be a choice, the choice to ignore what’s being said. To ignore advice and counsel from others who hold a different perspective or who hold a dissenting view can have devastating results. Consider this example from the OT.
King Solomon died. (Now here’s irony for you). The wisest man who ever lived – the richest man of his days – left a legacy of exacting harsh taxation on the people he ruled. When his son Rehoboam ascended the throne, he was approached by a delegation of the people to request leniency of taxation with a promise to serve him all their days. Rehoboam’s response was to ask them for time to consider what they requested, to return to him in 3 days for his answer. In the meantime, Rehoboam inquired of the elders who had served his father, but he chose to follow the counsel of his own peers…”the young men he had grown up with.” (I Kings 12) He took their advice and, “the King didn’t listen to the people.” When they returned to hear from Rehoboam, he stunned them with his intractable refusal to lighten the load choosing instead to increase it even more.
Civil war broke out. The kingdom was divided with 10 tribes in the north, following Jeroboam and 2 tribes in the south, following Rehoboam. Israel in the north never had a Godly king after that. Judah in the south, intermittently, had only a handful of Godly kings. The results of this decision have affected Israel to this day.
There are often unintended consequences for a person who ignores counsel from those who hold a dissenting opinion. When we seek counsel from those we know agree with us, the end result is often disastrous. It seems to me, seeking counsel from people we know will tell us what we want to hear, is to run headlong in to foolishness. Rehoboam, case in point. His refusal to listen engendered revolution. His people were plunged in to chaos.
Speaking of irony. It was this same wise man, Solomon, who said “A wise man will hear and increase in learning. and a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel…” Proverbs 1:5. To bad he either didn’t teach this to his son Rehoboam, or Rehoboam refused to learn it. With an attitude like his, I suspect Solomon tried to teach him, but the son heard and never listened.