Click this link to hear an audio version of the below text narrated by SOTH member Jerry Rhinehart:
Proverbs 18:13-24 (ESV)
13 If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame. 14 A man’s spirit will endure sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear? 15 An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge. 16 A man’s gift makes room for him and brings him before the great. 17 The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him. 18 The lot puts an end to quarrels and decides between powerful contenders. 19 A brother offended is more unyielding than a strong city, and quarreling is like the bars of a castle. 20 From the fruit of a man’s mouth his stomach is satisfied; he is satisfied by the yield of his lips. 21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits. 22 He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.23 The p oor use entreaties, but the rich answer roughly. 24 A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
18:21 says that the “tongue has the power of life and death,” so how do we get more words of life? One of the best ways is by first taking the time to listen. Verse 15 highlights this the best by explicitly stating that wise “ears” seek knowledge. That is about as straight forward as you can get. If you want to produce wise words start by listening to the wise words of others. Verse 17
helps elaborate the idea of listening a little more with the imagery of a courtroom. You might listen and the first thing you hear may sound wise, but wisdom comes through “seeking” the right answers rather than passively taking in anything and everything just because it sounds nice. Just listen to the simplistic soundbites of our politicians. At first they seem to sound good or right, but the more we ask questions, listening for more depth and nuance, we find that there really isn’t as much wisdom and truth to their words. Ultimately, we cannot share the “words of eternal life” (John 6:68) with others without first diligently listening to the Author (Acts 3:15) of those words with “seeking ears”.