Theme: Using Words as a Weapon
This week’s lessons remind us that those who do evil will eventually receive the judgment of God, and that in response to this truth we as Christians are to praise the Lord for his righteousness and trust in God’s unfailing love.
Scripture: Psalm 52:1-9
Doeg used words as his weapon. This is the third aspect of Doeg’s evil character. At first glance this does not seem so bad to us. In fact, it seems out of place. We know that boasting is bad, and loving evil is bad by definition. But words? Words seem relatively harmless. Yet when we look carefully at the stanza we see that this is the vice most emphasized: “Your tongue plots destruction; it is like a sharpened razor, you who practice deceit. You love evil rather than good, falsehood rather than speaking the truth. You love every harmful word, O you deceitful tongue” (vv. 2-4).
This tells us something about the nature of falsehood, deceit and lies, as well as the potentially murderous effects of words. It teaches that words are not morally neutral. They are a powerful force either for evil or good. But the statements of the psalm do something else too. They also bring this denunciation of Doeg’s character closer to ourselves and warn us of the evil of which we are capable.
Believers in Jesus Christ should not be able to see themselves as people who love evil. In fact, if they do love evil rather than the good, they are not Christians. Neither should they be able to be described as those who are self-satisfied, clever or absorbed in their intrigues. But words? Failing to tell the truth? Deceit? These are things that come much closer to where we live and are a rebuke to any loose talk or less than honest and upright conversation.
If this were not a danger for us, why would James have written about the harm the tongue can do in that extensive treatment found in chapter 3? There we read:
The tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be (vv. 5-10).
The whole passage is sobering, but especially those last words: “Brothers, this should not be.” “Brothers” means Christians. So this is a statement that believers in Christ are sometimes guilty of the same vice seen in wicked Doeg and do corresponding harm.
In England during World War II there was a war poster found all over the country that was meant to warn against any unwitting disclosure of troop movements or other military secrets. It contained the words: “Loose talk costs lives.” That is true spiritually as well. So instead of being people whose talk is undisciplined or loose, we should be people whose conversation is constructive and above all truthful.
Why might people not take their words as seriously as they ought?
Why is speaking evil words the vice that is most emphasized in this psalm?
Application: Read James 3:5-10. Have you recently used your tongue to produce a harmful result upon someone else? Pray for the Lord’s grace to use your tongue to the glory of Christ and for the blessing of others.
Key Point: This tells us something about the nature of falsehood, deceit and lies, as well as the potentially murderous effects of words. It teaches that words are not morally neutral. They are a powerful force either for evil or good.