Looking over the story of King David in Psalm 34, I stumbled upon a passage that stuck and have been thinking about. For conText, Psalm 34 we find King David on the run: “Of David. When he pretended to be insane before Abimelek . . . .” David had just narrowly escaped King Saul’s attempt to murder him, and he had fled to the only place he felt was out of Saul’s reach, the territory of the Philistines (1 Sam. 21:10-15).
After arriving, his life was once again threatened by King Achish and, again, narrowly escapes. Reading Psalm 34 and understanding this story, I thought its message was to follow the will of God and given our talents we will be led out of danger.
However, two passages struck me: “I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips” and “I will teach you the fear of the Lord. . . . Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from telling lies.” Bascially, watch what you say. Words Are the means to meaning. Words can defy, give rise, encourage, and also destroy.
James described how a slip of the tongue can do great damage. One wrong word can change the careers or destinies of people. So toxic is the tongue that James wrote, “No human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:8). If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. If we don’t have anything nice to post, don’t post anything at all. If you don’t have anything nice to text, don’t text anything at all.
How can we tame our tongue? By changing our hearts and being more like Jesus. Growing up I viewed slang and foul language as means of sin, something to stay away from. Today, I hardly swear, but need reminding that foul language can take on different forms; negativity, hurt, insults, and indifference. “I will watch my ways,” writes David, “and keep my tongue from sin.” Hard to do in a fast paced and ADD world. The problem has increased in our modern world as a careless email or a posting on a social media site can cause great harm. It quickly goes viral and can’t always be retracted.
“I will teach you the fear of the Lord. . . . Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from telling lies…I will put a muzzle on my mouth.” What I take away from this, “let me speak with a pure heart and clean tongue because if I do not, God is going to wash my mouth out with soap.”