Why Does God Speak in a Whisper?

There is a story in the first half of the Bible that relates Elijah's experience of hearing God speak to him. 1 Kings chapter 19 relates the story:

"And the word of the LORD came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He replied, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.” The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.”

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19, NIV, bold mine).

Church leaders today use this passage to explain that God often speaks in a "still small voice" in our lives to direct us, challenge us and encourage us in His path for our lives.

I've been reading multiple, good books on hearing God's voice, including Hearing God by Dallas Willard and Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby. These books are classics that contain solid Scriptural advice on the subject of hearing God's direction in your own life, that I can only begin to scratch the surface of with this blog.

One of the most significant understandings I've gained of why God speaks to us often in a whisper is from a song by worship leader Jason Upton. Upton sings, "is the reason that You're whispering because, You're one step away ..."

God speaks to us in a whisper because He is close.

He doesn't need to speak any louder. You don't shout when you're close to someone. You talk at the appropriate volume.

Scripture echoes this truth. Jesus' primary message when he traveled this earth was "repent ... and ... the Kingdom of Heaven is near." (Matthew 4:17).

And Paul explains in Acts 17 in Athens, "The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring." (Acts 17:24-28, NIV).

God is close.