When to Listen–and When Not To

Note these contrasting proverbs:

“Listen to counsel and accept discipline, that you may be wise the rest of your days” (Proverbs 19:20).

“My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent” (Proverbs 1:10).

One proverb says listen; the other says not to. They are both right.

There were times when David was wise not to listen:

  • When Saul suggested that David was too inexperienced to fight Goliath (1 Samuel 17:33).
  • When his men on two occasions tried to persuade him to kill King Saul (1 Samuel 24, 26).
  • When some said that the ones who could not go into battle should have no share in the spoils (1 Samuel 30:21-25).

Then there were times when David was wise to listen:

  • When Abigail persuaded him not to take vengeance on Nabal and his men (1 Samuel 25:18-34).
  • When Nathan the prophet rebuked him for his sin of adultery and murder (2 Samuel 12:1-13).
  • When Joab urged David to relate to his people in spite of his grief over Absalom’s death (2 Samuel 19:7-8).

In these cases David shows himself to be a man of restraint (Abigail), of penitence (Nathan), and prudence (Joab).

Steve Singleton pointed out to me one occasion when David should have listened, but didn’t. Joab tried to persuade David not to take a census of his people, but David insisted. He and Israel paid dearly for his refusal to listen (2 Samuel 24).

It takes a humble person to be willing to listen when he should, and a strong person to refuse to listen to those who would lead us astray. It is a foolish person who listens to those who would lead him away from God’s will, and a stubborn, prideful person who will not listen when the truth is spoken.

“A man who hardens his neck after much reproof will suddenly be broken beyond remedy” (Proverbs 29:1).

Let’s learn when to listen—and when not to.


Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Unwise Wisdom

soccer players-tagged

Benefits of sports

A woman said of her young daughter, “My goal is to keep her busy.” I can certainly see the wisdom in that. Kids need to be so occupied with good things that they don’t have time to get into trouble. There is so much out there that can lead them astray. And so this mom signed up her daughter for two sports.

Sports can help fill the void. Sports provide structure and discipline. A child learns how to work together with others as a member of a team. Sports develop eye-hand coordination, as well as motor skills. Competitive sports provide opportunities to learn to lose gracefully. Much more can be said about the benefits of organized sports. And yet….

Misplaced priorities

When she said, “My goal is to keep her busy,” I couldn’t help thinking: What about keeping your daughter busy in church activities?

If sports and other pursuits so fill the schedule that the church gets the short end of the stick—if even that much—then isn’t something wrong with this picture?

Sports have their place. So do a lot of other worthwhile things. These days we have so many options—good options—that it is easy, as someone well said, to let the second-best pre-empt the best. “I will follow You, Lord; but first . . .” (Luke 9:61).

The church offers something no other organization can: a God-ordained environment for spiritual growth. How many parents realize what a positive impact the church can have on their children—both now and for eternity? There’s just nothing quite like it!

One Christian family I know found themselves running hard night after night to keep up with the activities they had their kids involved in. Finally they decided they just couldn’t maintain such a hectic pace. It was just too much. Something had to give. And for them, it wasn’t going to be the church.

For Christians, can there be any other option?

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Wisdom & Foolishness: A Contrast

Taking the long view

The book of Proverbs shows how a sensible person avoids such self-destructive traps as evil companions, pride, sexual immorality, drunkenness, and laziness.

Proverbs teaches us how to bring ultimate, lasting good to ourselves by making wise choices.

Open to instruction

“The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel” (12:15).

The fool’s mind is closed to advice and correction (15:12).

He fails to grow because he thinks he’s OK as he is. But the wise man welcomes correction because he realizes he has room to improve (9:8).

Proverbs has much more to say on the subject. Evidently God thought it worth emphasizing.

And we’d be wise to listen.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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In One Ear . . . ?

When to listen, when not to

Listening is a major theme of the book of Proverbs.

The book is designed to guide young men in making wise choices, while avoiding foolish ones.

For this to happen, one must really listen, learn, and live accordingly.

Youth must listen to their parents (1:8; 4:1-6; 23:22).

But they must also avoid listening to the wrong people (1:10-19; 7:6-23; 17:4).

They must listen to wise counsel (12:15; 19:20).


To our advantage

It’s wise to listen to needed correction and foolish not to (1:20-33; 15:32; 25:12).

Listening leads to positive outcomes (8:32-35; 21:28)

Refusing to listen results in major consequences (5:1-14; 13:1; 19:27).

God won’t hear the prayers of those who won’t listen to Him (28:9).

It’s just that important!

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Proverbs Revisited

A Christian counselor told me he assigns some of his clients to copy by hand chapters from the book of Proverbs. He has seen wicked people change for the better by doing this.

Wisdom absorbed

Proverbs was originally designed to help young men avoid the traps youth are vulnerable to—and to make wise choices instead. But Proverbs makes for profitable reading for any age, male or female.


As the counselor told me, Proverbs has 31 chapters, one for every day of the month.

Wisdom applied

A chapter a day could make a real difference for any of us—if we turn what we learn into living.

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