The wise in heart accept commands, but a chattering fool comes to ruin. ~Proverbs 10:8 NIV
A story about a young boy in 1 Samuel 3 personifies the first half of this verse:
The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions. One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the house of the Lord, where the ark of God was. Then the Lord called Samuel. Samuel answered, “Here I am.” And he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” But Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down. Again the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” “My son,” Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord: The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. A third time the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”
Note first that Samuel answers the Lord the very first time he is called. But he isn’t sure who is calling him. Samuel runs to Eli, the priest who was mentoring the boy. After this happens three times, Eli deduces that it is God who is calling Samuel. Being a man of wisdom himself, Eli instructs Samuel to respond with “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”
As Samuel hears God call him once more, he responds exactly as Eli told him to reply. So Samuel can be commended for listening — both to God and to his human authority. Even better, Samuel obeyed Eli’s instructions. And he was rewarded with a stunning personal encounter with the living God, Creator of the universe.
The second half of Proverbs 10:8 is supported by the truth of Ecclesiastes 5:1-2:
Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong. Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.
Who is the “chattering fool?” The one who is quick with his mouth and hasty in heart. The person who speaks repeatedly without thinking is sure to come to ruin. James 1:19 is also a strong reminder of this principle: “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak…”
Are you listening? Or are you too busy verbalizing your own thoughts and opinions to really hear when God speaks?