Then Moses said to the LORD, “Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither recently nor in time past, nor since You have spoken to Your servant; for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” The LORD said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes [him] mute or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now then go, and I, even I, will be with your mouth, and teach you what you are to say.”
The conversation between God and Moses continues. The bush is still burning and Moses is still barefoot on holy ground. Moses has brought up the identity of God Who sends him and has received an answer. Moses brought up the issue of not being believed about having met with God and God answered that with the ability to perform miraculous signs. Moses has one last concern and it is at this point that he gets stuck. Moses is concerned that is slow of speech and slow of tongue; in other words, he is not eloquent.
God answers this directly. He asks Moses Who made man’s mouth in the first place, then answers His own question. God made man’s mouth. God is perfectly able to change a clumsy speaker into a great orator. But Moses gets stuck on this. The previous two objections were, apparently, answered to his satisfaction. But this; this is a bridge too far. Moses cannot possibly be made able to speak.
Psalm 19:7 tells me that God’s Word — in Moses’ case, God’s words — is able to make wise the simple. I am reasonably sure — though I cannot find it at the moment — that The Bible tells me that quoting The Bible will make me sound wise to anyone listening. And it has been my experience that this is so. I was given the opportunity to speak in a very public venue many years ago and quoted rather extensively from Ecclesiastes in the speech. Portions of the speech were quoted in the local paper. The quoted portions were quotes from The Bible. Even a dullard sounds wise when correctly quoting God’s Word.
So, too, did Moses. Despite God saying that Aaron could speak on behalf of Moses, Aaron does not seem to do much of that in front of Pharaoh. When it comes time, it seems to be Moses who speaks.
I have heard it taught, and this verse seems to be the origin of the teaching, that God does not call the equipped, but equips the called. That is to say that God does not always call a talented public speaker to be His mouthpiece. It brings God greater glory to use someone who is known to have trouble with speaking to deliver powerful oratory and persuasive arguments. More, though, this verse establishes for me the precedent that God will not always call me, personally, to things to which I am naturally inclined. He may do so — Moses was inclined to deliver the Israelites, after all — and He may not. It is His prerogative. My part in things is to hear God’s instruction and obey it.
Father, thank You that being equipped for the work and capable of doing it are not prerequisites. Please keep my ears hearing that I might know Your call when it comes and keep my heart pliant that I might obey.