The Danger of Dull Ears

by Bethany

Today’s Readings: Song of Solomon 5, Hebrew 5

Street Noise

When out-of-towners come to visit me, they find it hard to sleep because of the New York City noise – cars speeding, people talking, car alarms sounding, or jackhammers pounding. I don’t even hear it anymore.  And, if that noise were the Word of God, I’d be in trouble.

Dull Ears

After already having offered solutions [1], the writer of Hebrews finally identifies his readers’ problem – dull ears: “About this [Melchizedek as a prefiguring of Christ] we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing” v. 11, ESV. They had heard the Word for so long that it started going in one ear and out the other.

The Danger

How we hear the Word is just as important as whether we hear it [2].  Hearing it with dull ears is a problem because it leads to not believing the Lord and, as we saw on Wednesday, unbelief leads to not entering the Promised Land.  Since God longs for us to enter His rest, He tells us to avoid dull hearing.

In Hebrews, the readers were hearing with their physical ears, not their spiritual ones.  Thus, they weren’t ready to understand deep spiritual truths like Melchizedek and the priesthood of Jesus (v. 11).  They were still “babies” drinking “milk” – unable to digest “solid food” (vv. 12-13).

There’s nothing wrong with being a baby … unless, of course, you’ve been in the world for ten years.  Then, there’s a problem.  These Christians had been believers for long enough that they should’ve been teachers already (v. 12).  Yet, they were losing their desire for God’s Word because they saw no urgency to apply it to their lives.  Since they had no practice in it, they were increasingly unable “to distinguish good from evil.”

How to Avoid

We avoid dull hearing by craving the God’s Word, being satisfied in it, and then discerning between good and evil.  We let His truth enter through our spiritual ears into our hearts so that it can do its saving work in areas where we’ve deeply sinned or been hurt.  In practical terms, we stop passively engaging with the Word; we let it change us.

This Sunday, after you hear the Word preached, sing the Word in songs, and pray the Word in prayers, how will you make sure that your ears are diligent, not dull?


[1] Hebrews 3:1, 3:8, 3:12, 4:1, 4:14

[2] In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus emphasized the importance of paying attention to how we hear.  He told of a sower who dropped seed in four different soils, each resulting in different yields.  Jesus explained that the seed was the Word of God and the different soils were the people who heard it.  What accounted for the different yields was not whether they heard the Word, but how they heard it: “Take care then how you hear …” (Luke 8:18, ESV).

One Comment to “The Danger of Dull Ears”

  1. hi bethany, joe told me about your blog and i’ve been reading it every day ever since then. i’m really enjoying it, i think ur doing a great job and i personally appreaciate all the time ur putting into it. it’s helping me start my day out with the Word and get my focus for the day straight.

    AND regarding the above Parable of the Sower, my husband and i recently heard a sermon, a few days later i commented about a topic in it and we both had different takes (yields). of course i still think my take on it is right!

    So, keep up the good work, and again thank you.

    lucille zito

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