"I Told You, Buddy!"

I’m sure that health-care professionals have done extensive analysis about self-talk. If not, they should! I know a few jokes that have evolved from such mumblings. One of my favorites starts by asking,  “Do you believe in the hereafter?” This is a question many of us ask in our daily and episodic forgetfulness. We will wander (and wonder!) room to room throughout the house asking ourselves, “What am I here after?”šŸ˜Š

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We also have another type of self-talk these days of our “golden years!” “Television Talk!” We do it during news programs as we boldly interject, “I can’t believe he said that!” And we do it during sport’s programs as we shout out, “It’s a free-throw! And they still can’t make it! Don’t they know? It’s free!!” At our house, we see this derivative of self-talk even more during game shows!

There are some sacred half-hours during mid-afternoon and early evening at our house! It’s a time when everything stops, and everyone focuses on the television screen for the game shows - Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune! This shows our age to have to admit that the entire day of entertainment revolves around 3:30 and 6:30 pm!

The other afternoon, our resident teacher, a.k.a. Monique, offered unsolicited advice to one of the Jeopardy contestants. He had quickly responded to the clue, “What is gnash?” (as in gnashing of teeth!) and then was surprised when Ken Jennings, the host, told him “No. I’m sorry!” Monique repeatedly shouted out the past tense of the word to correct him. “Gnashed! Gnashed!” she continued! Don’t you just hate it when English majors do this?!

While the contestant was surely “gnashing his teeth” with disappointment, Monique couldn’t help herself and blurted out her game-show counsel, “I told you, buddy! But you wouldn’t listen to me!” I had just stepped down the hall and returned when I heard the warning, “I told you, buddy!” With surprise, I asked, “Who were you talking to?” And she replied, “Oh, it was the guy in the middle. He wouldn’t listen to me!” And I sarcastically added, “Imagine that!” And there you have it… self-talk spilling over into tv talk!

Many times, in recorded Scripture, you will read about how God rebuked and warned His children, “I told you, but you wouldn’t listen to me!” Depending on your translation, the number of Bible references for the word “listen” or “hear” varies between 265 (ESV) to 550 (KJV) times. God often reminds us in His word to listen, pay close attention, to give ear, hearken and obey His instruction.

“Shema”  is one of my favorite Hebrew words. It is a Jewish prayer and liturgy found in Deuteronomy 6, 11 and Numbers 15,  “Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone.”  Jesus quotes from the Shema in the gospels (Matthew 22 and Mark 12), “Jesus replied, ‘The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. You must love the Lord with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’” (Mark 12:29-30), NLT).

In seminary, I often used association in my biblical language classes to  memorize and build vocabulary. The word for “to hear or listen” lends itself naturally to this association. In public settings, you’ll often observe that a mom will try to quiet her children while whispering, ‘Shhhh’ to her talkative kids as she touches her lips with an index finger. Thus, “shuh-ma” for Shema!

The lesson is clear in the etymology of the word, we must get quiet in our spirits to hear and then obey what God says to us in His Word! But it’s not always easy to put this into practice. Too often, we are talking over God rather than listening to Him. We spend so much time offering God “our unsolicited advice” and too little time quieting ourselves before Him.

We need to revisit the story of how Eli, the priest, advised young Samuel to simply reply to God’s promptings in this way, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.” (1 Samuel 3:1-10). I don’t think any of us want to hear God’s scolding, “I told you… but you wouldn’t listen!” Sometime today we need to get out in nature or find that special place and time for quiet reflection. Try making this your opening prayer, “Speak, Lord. I’m listening.”

Mike Keppler, retired pastor,

active churchman and
doting grandparent.
Contact: drmjkeppler@gmail.com



  1. Wise words and such a great reminder to make time to be quiet and listen!

    1. Thanks, friend! We all are a "work in progress" in getting to a quieter and listening place in our spiritual lives!

  2. You are so right, we need. To be still and listen.


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