Selective Hearing

I thought my daughter mumbled, but when I got hearing aids I realized the problem was with my ears and not her voice. Sometimes I don’t hear the LORD clearly either.

One Word –

And God came to Balaam at night and said to him, “If the men have come to call you, rise, go with them; but only do what I tell you.” So Balaam rose in the morning and saddled his donkey and went with the princes of Moab. Numbers 22:20-21

Daily Bible Reading: Numbers 22, 23, 24; Acts 1, 2

Big Idea –

Some of us don’t like taking “No” for an answer. Balak didn’t. He sent his princes a second time to Balaam asking him to come and curse Israel. Balaam didn’t like God’s “No” either. He went a second time to inquire of the LORD if he could go with Balak’s princes. Did he really think he could change God’s mind?

A casual reading of the story might cause us to think God changed his mind. Although sending an angel to kill Balaam hardly seems like the LORD changed His mind. Fortunately Balaam had a donkey that saw the danger sparing Balaam’s life with only a strong warning to say only what the LORD commanded him.

Look again at what God said when Balaam inquired the second time; “If the men have come to call you, rise, go with them; but only do what I tell you.” I’m not a Hebrew scholar, but commentaries confirm that the translators are playing with the English translation. The NIV actually says, “Since these men have come to summon you,” as thought Balak’s princes had twisted God’s arm into letting Balaam go with them. These translations hardly make sense when you consider how Balaam’s donkey ‘stubbornly’ avoids the angel of the LORD sent to kill his master.

A better translation would simply be “If these men come again to call you, rise, go with them.” Balaam heard what he wanted getting up and going with Balak’s messengers. But the LORD told  him to wait and see if they came again to inquire. I can’t help but wonder if Balak’s emissaries might have become like the two squadrons of soldiers sent to arrest Elijah, dead men walking consumed by fire from heaven. But Balaam did not wait to see if the messengers would ask him again to go with them to Balak; he chose to hear what he wanted and rose early in the morning and went with them anyway.

How often do we do the very same thing? We too sometimes only hear what we want ignoring the LORD’S clear instructions. To Balaam’s credit when he stood the four times looking over Israel, he spoke only the words given to him by the LORD, words of blessing and not the cursing  Balak desired.

Exemplify –

Sometimes the LORD may speak in a still small voice, but often He speaks to me through His word. I need to listen and obey all the LORD says and not just hear what I want to hear.

Yes to Yield –

LORD Jesus, thank You for making Your word know to me and having ears to hear and recognize Your voice. Forgive me when like Balaam I have selective hearing or ignore all that You have said. Holy Spirit empower me to obey all that You have spoken through the scriptures and will speak as only You can to my heart.

If you’re new to Living It Now, you can find an explanation of the O-B-E-Y journal on the Hearing and Doing page, or the sample post Guard Duty.

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