Many of you have read this blog, but few of you have heard the sound of my voice. Now you have a chance to do so. You can listen to me reading David Ker’s Cyber-Psalm 33. This is the one which I said some nice things about when it was first published.
Months ago David asked me to record this for him, but my first attempt by toll-free telephone didn’t work out. So yesterday, in response to his urgent appeal, I recorded it again using the high quality sound equipment at my church (unfortunately it was sensitive enough to pick up the rustling of the paper I was reading from), and sent the result to David for all to hear.
The words “Hear my voice” have been in my mind this week also for a completely different reason. I was asked to lead a church home group meeting on the subject of hearing and obeying God’s voice. This was based on a chapter in the book “Receiving God’s Best” by Derek Prince. He wrote (p.62):
The success of our relationship with God and our walk with Him depends on hearing His voice.
I agree. But I discovered a small problem in that Prince quotes in support Exodus 15:26 and Deuteronomy 28:1, claiming that these are about hearing God’s voice. These verses start almost but not quite identically in Hebrew. In most translations the former refers to listening to God’s voice, and the latter to obeying it. Why the difference in translation? It is just one letter in Hebrew.
The Exodus verse (ignoring the speech introducer) starts im-shamoa` tishma` leqol YHWH eloheyka, literally “if hearing you hear to the voice of the LORD your God”. In Deuteronomy the equivalent words are im-shamoa` tishma` beqol YHWH eloheyka, literally “if hearing you hear in the voice of the LORD your God”. Contrast Genesis 3:10 where literally Adam “heard your voice”, the same verb and noun but with no preposition “to” or “in”.
It seems that there is a subtle distinction here in the Hebrew which Derek Prince may have missed: literally “hear voice” = “hear”; literally “hear to voice” = “listen to”; literally “hear in voice” = “obey”. But the distinction is largely lost in Greek, and so in John 10:27 “my sheep hear my voice” also means “my sheep listen to me” and “my sheep obey me”. Although Prince’s exegesis is simplified, perhaps deliberately, he finds the main point: the prerequisite for God’s blessing is not just hearing God’s voice but also listening to it and obeying it – a point he could have made more explicitly from Hebrews 4:1-2.
Please hear my voice and listen to me reading the Cyber-Psalm. But don’t obey me, obey God!