Theme: Using Words as Weapons
In this week’s lessons we see that as David looks to God for victory over his enemies, there is much we can learn as we face battles of our own.
Scripture: Psalm 64:1-10
As noted in the introduction, this psalm spends most of its time on the wicked who are attacking David, rather than on God. The result is that we are provided with a helpful study of this particular kind of evil. Looking carefully at verses 2-6, we find them analyzing: 1) the nature of this evil; 2) the weapons of these evil people; 3) their methods; 4) their plans; and 5) their fierce but complacent pride. We’ll look at the first two of these today and the last three tomorrow.
Their nature (v. 2). Wickedness takes many forms, but in this case it involves its practitioners in a “conspiracy” to do harm. Conspiracy describes any familiar conversation, so technically it can describe a good, upright or profitable conversation among friends. The negative sense usually predominates, however, and that is the case here. What David faced was the secret plotting of his enemies to bring him down. They were not foreigners, warlords or generals plotting in some foreign capital how they might attack and overthrow the kingdom of Israel. These were people from within David’s own court in Jerusalem, even, as we learn from the accounts of his reign in the historical books of the Old Testament, from within David’s own family, even from Absalom, his son.
Nothing hurts more than when a person close to us turns against us and tries to harm us. It is like a snake striking from a bush, unseen. The poison from such a wound rankles within and can literally poison a life of otherwise useful service. David has not allowed the conspirators to do this to him. He has brought his burdens to God.
Their weapons (v. 3). Verse 3 describes the weapons his enemies are using, and we find in this case that the weapons are words. These people “sharpen their tongues like swords and aim their words like deadly arrows.” This theme has been developed in other psalms in this same section of the Psalter (see Psalms 52, 57-59); in Psalms 57 and 58 David even compared the words of his enemies to arrows shot at him secretly from hiding, as he does here. So we know that this was something David was very much afraid of and unable adequately to counter. That is also true for every one of us, isn’t it? Forthright assaults we can sometimes handle. But when a person is talking about us behind our backs, creating suspicions, slandering us and telling lies, it is almost impossible to deal with what is happening and the results, as we know, can be terribly destructive. In politics we sometimes see careers ruined by so-called “unconfirmed reports” or information supplied by “someone close to the source who declines to be identified.”
The apostle James had strong words to say about this evil. “Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue is also 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 restless evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:5-8).
When we think of the evil that can be done by words, it is helpful to remember that although the most effective weapon of the wicked may be words, words are also the chief weapon of the Holy Spirit. The words of the righteous are effective, especially when they are uttered in a Spirit-blessed prayer (James 5:16). The words of God are even more effective: “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (Isa. 55:10, 11).
Describe the type of conspiracy David faced. Who were the people involved? What frightened David the most? How did David refuse to allow his enemies to embitter him?
Read through the book of James. What do we learn about the importance of words and how we should and should not use them?
Reflection: David could have allowed bitterness to poison his body. When have you allowed bitterness to have a hold on you? How did it affect your relationship with others? How did it affect your relationship with God?
Prayer: Ask God to help you remove any feelings of bitterness you may still have toward someone who has wronged you.