Talking Instead of Listening


Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God.” Psalm 42:1 

There are verses of Scripture, which implore us to listen rather than to speak. James 1:19 says, “This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger”. Very clearly, God is saying through James that we are to speak less so we can listen more.

However, this particular admonition found in James has to do with speaking less so that we can do a better job of listening to others. After all, we are to seek to understand before being understood. There is great wisdom in listening to others before we speak.

Proverbs 18:13 teaches us that “He who gives an answer before he hears, it is folly and shame to him.” Proverbs 29:20 says, “Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him.” Indeed, it is wise to listen to what others have to say before we speak.

On the other hand, there are times and situations when it is better to speak instead of hearing, talk instead of listening. 

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones in his book, Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cures, wrote the following: 

“The main trouble in this whole matter of spiritual depression in a sense is this, that we allow our self to talk to us instead of talking to our self. Am I just trying to be deliberately paradoxical? Far from it. This is the very essence of wisdom in this matter. Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them, but they start talking to you, they bring back the problem of yesterday, etc. Somebody is talking. Who is talking to you? Your self is talking to you.” 

Lloyd-Jones then referred to a man after God’s own heart in Psalm 42, which recorded a lament of David during a season of possible depression. Lloyd-Jones continued.

“Now this man’s treatment [in Psalm 42] was this; instead of allowing this self to talk to him, he starts talking to himself, ‘Why art thou cast down, O my soul?’ he asks. His soul had been repressing him, crushing him. So he stands up and says: ‘Self, listen for a moment, I will speak to you’. Do you know what I mean? If you do not, you have but little experience.”

David concluded the Psalm by talking instead of listening. Talking to self instead of listening to self. And what did David say to self? He told self that there was no need to despair because of the hope found in God.

In the midst of whatever hardship you may be experiencing, are you talking or listening to self? 

Something to think about…