You know you remember it and if you have kids you have probably heard it said more times than you care to remember – “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” What a lie! Words do hurt us and sometimes deeper then we would ever like to admit. None of us would have to try very hard to remember a hurtful word said to us at one point or another and in fact I know that some of us keep records of it. I once heard of a wife who in the very same journal she kept her bible notes she also kept a running list of all the hurtful things her husband had ever said to her! So much for 1 Corinthians 13:5!
In part one of this mini-series on the stewardship of our words we briefly considered how we sometimes recklessly and hurtfully stab at others with dagger-like words. David especially makes note of these swords in our mouths, himself often at their pointed edge (Ps. 55:21; Ps. 57:4; Ps. 59:7; Ps. 64:3). For this second part, we will consider what God thinks about how we use these “swords” by considering Psalm 59.
He Laughs (Psalm 59:8)
As far as I know, with the exception of Proverbs 1:26, Psalms is the only book of the Bible that speaks of God “laughing” and it does so three times:
- Psalm 2:4 – “The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them.”
- Psalm 37:13 – “But the Lord laughs at the wicked, for he knows their day is coming.”
- Psalm 59:8 – “But you, O LORD, laugh at them; you scoff at all those nations.”
In Psalm 2:4 God is laughing at the conspiring “nations” and plotting “peoples,” the “kings of the earth” and the gathered “rulers” who vainly think that by standing together they can throw off the rule of God and His Anointed One. Clearly God is not intimidated, threatened, or worried about the plan of the nations but rather laughing at its futility. In Psalm 37:13 the Lord is laughing at evil men plotting against the righteous (v. 12) “for he knows their day is coming.” The wicked will not accomplish anything by their crafty designs for their overthrow by God himself is certain. Thus the wicked man’s scheming is vain and worthy only of contemptible laughter. Understanding Psalm 2:4 and Psalm 37:13 helps us to understand Psalm 59:8. In their zeal and confidence, David’s slanderers have made a crucial miscalculation for they say, “Who can hear us?” (v. 7). They are aggressive and reckless and foolish with their words because they believe David has no one to help him. With atheistic security, they believe no one else hears and believe there will be no accounting for what they say but they are sorely mistaken for as Psalm 59:8 says, “But you, O LORD, laugh at them” and as we will see in the next point his laughter is the precursor to his wrath and judgment.
He Judges (Psalm 59:12-13)
Psalm 59:12-13 says, “For the sins of their mouths, for the words of their lips, let them be caught in their pride. For the curses and lies they utter, consume them in wrath, consume them till they are no more. Then it will be known to the ends of the earth that God rules over Jacob.”
We don’t like this but nevertheless we must learn this lesson – we sin with our mouths and for this we deserve to be consumed in God’s wrath. Why? Because as Jesus teaches us “out of the overflow of his heart the mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45). What is more, not only do we deserve to be consumed in God’s wrath for the prideful, cutting, piercing, blood-thirsty words we speak but unless we by God’s grace turn from our sin we will be. Jesus taught us, “But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:36-37). And in consuming us in his wrath for the sins of our mouth the glory of God’s justice will be seen for as Psalm 59:13 says, “it will be known to the ends of the earth that God rules over Jacob.”
So God laughs and his laughter is a precursor to his wrath and judgment. In light of this we might be tempted to stop talking altogether but that is not the answer for our words can also give life and grace to those who hear.
The point for this post is to remember that God hears. This is important to keep in mind because when we recklessly lash out with piercing, hurtful words it is because we have forgotten that our words instead of vanishing into thin air are heard by the God of the universe who searches all things and will hold us all accountable. Further keep in mind that just because you might mumble the words under your breath or feel them intently in your heart instead of vocalizing them directly you are still guilty and subject to judgment. Whether in a shouting match or muttering under your breath or thinking in your heart or posting something online in a blog or on Twitter or on Facebook – God still hears so let us make the psalmist’s prayer our own – “Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips” (Psalm 141:3). Remember also that the sins of the mouth reveal an even greater problem, namely, a sinful heart. Let us take our sins of the tongue to the cross in repentant confession – God hears that also – praying with the psalmist, “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:14). Lastly, as Christians who believe the Bible to be the authoritative word of God, the church to be the pillar and buttress of truth, Jesus Christ to be the only name under heaven whereby we must be saved and in a literal heaven and hell we are not immune to the railings and slandering’s of the world. Who among us has not been derisively asked, “You don’t really believe that do you?” Remember, God hears that also and it is he who gets the last laugh! Such scorn need give no concern to our faith!
For our next part, using the same Psalms, we will consider more how we should use these “swords.”