The gift of discernment flows out of the gift of spiritual listening. We know spiritual things, spiritually. We listen and see in order to speak well. Isaiah, the prophet, puts it like this:
The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue,
to know the word that sustains the weary.
He wakens me morning by morning,
wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed.
In Isaiah 50, we are both getting a glimpse into Isaiah’s personal spirituality and Jesus’.
Isaiah had the gift of expression or words. It came in through the orientation of being teachable. Each day, he would pray that God open his ears to his instruction. Daily he grew by having spiritual hearing; and then look what happens—“You have given my tongue the gift to help encourage the weary.” That is what the gift of words is for. The word brings life. Spiritual words edify those in need. They bring refreshment. Here is the ministry of the prophet as well.
Jesus’ personal spirituality was to listen to the Father daily. He grew up spiritually by listening daily to His Father, and God also made Him a Teacher for all who were weary.
As often in David’s writing, here in Isaiah you start to feel the writer’s personal spirituality starting to stream into and reflect Christ’s. When we think of Jesus having a personal spirituality, we are talking about His unique relationship and way of communing with The Father.
David modeled and pointed towards the suffering servant, often lamenting in his poems and writings and channeling and forecasting the type of suffering Jesus would endure, in order to reconcile many to God.
Here in Isaiah we are getting a rare glimpse into this erudite writer’s personal spirituality in lines like these:
“The Lord God has given Me
The tongue of the learned,
That I should know how to speak
A word in season to him who is weary.
He awakens Me morning by morning,
He awakens My ear
To hear as the learned.
The Lord God has opened My ear.
The gift of words or expression is developed from the gift and practice of spiritual listening. The purpose of the gift of words or expression to to help the weary. Our daily practice is to humble ourselves and listen for instruction, to be teachable. Out of this spiritual apprehension or comprehension, comes the ability to help others with your words and expressions.
Jesus only did what He saw His Father doing. He woke up daily and listened to His Father. He grew in Wisdom like this. And then had the tongue of a Teacher. In His case, the great Teacher.
Recall that Isaiah, like Paul years later, was a highly educated man. Isaiah may be one of the best pure writers or expressers in the bible. But here we see that he was yielded to God’s instruction daily. That he was teachable, listening spiritually daily. Asking God to open his ears, not assuming he knew on his own. As Paul puts it later: “The man who thinks he knows does not yet know as he ought to know.”
True knowledge is spiritually obtained. As Paul also teaching: these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.
The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God…. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. (I Corinthians 2:10-13).
This waking up and asking God to open our ears so we can discern spiritual truths, and then offer them out to those who are hungry or weary; this is our most basic Christian spirituality. It is clearly illustrated in the lives of Isaiah, Paul, and most clearly, Jesus Himself. Spiritual discernment requires teachability. The gift of words pours out of the gift of listening well. Give us ears to hear and eyes to see the spiritual things of God. And let us then freely offer them to one another as words of life, and life-bringing. Let us become life bringers!
Open our spiritual ears that we may hear the instructions of God today. Then give us loosed tongues to release the words of life to those in need.
Throughout scriptures we are taught to be growing in spiritual discernment of things. To have ears to hear, and eyes to see. We need both ears and eyes to know God better. Then we use our tongue to bless others through. Our tongues are meant to be instruments of expressing what our spiritual ears and eyes have encountered! We listen and see—“fixing our gaze to gain understanding” like Daniel! Then we speak words of life out to those who are weary. And these words have power because they are born from the Spirit. Our practice is to listen and see well, then we can speak well. That is what scripture is teaching us.