March 5, 2018: O Deceitful TongueJosh Moody
The story that apparently gave rise to this psalm is a terrifying one. Doeg betrayed the priests for helping David escape from Saul. Later he was asked by Saul to put the priests to death. He killed eighty-five people in one day. “And Nob, the city of the priests, he put to the sword; both man and woman, child and infant…” (1 Samuel 22:19).
All of this, David discerns, came about through the tongue. “Why do you boast of evil, O mighty man? … Your tongue plots destruction, like a sharp razor, you worker of deceit” (52:1-2). It reminds us of the Book of James: “So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!” (James 3:5). Have you been wounded by other people’s words? Perhaps you know the power of the tongue to maim. On the other hand, perhaps you are yourself tempted to use your tongue to hurt? It can feel momentarily satisfying to fire off an irascible email. But the damage done by a hasty or vicious word can be incalculable!
Which is why verse 5 is encouraging: “But God…” What follows is a description of judgment. All sin must be judged one of two places: either for eternity in hell or in the infinite Son of God who died on the cross. God intervenes and rescues us from the dark paths of sin. This section comes as a warning. Do not be the person who attempts to live by deceit or lies or vicious words. At some point they will say, “See the man who would not make God his refuge, but trusted in the abundance of his riches and sought refuge in his own destruction!” (52:7). Biting words will come back to bite you! Pray that God gives you the Spirit whose fruit includes self-control!
Instead, reflect on the blessed state of the person who trusts in the “steadfast love of God” (52:8). He is like a “green olive tree”: healthy, vibrant, sound, living. He has hope not just for now, but “forever and ever.” He has many reasons to “thank” God forever (52:9). Be like this! Trust in God’s love. And when you are tempted to slander others, or even when people slander you, remember: biting words can come back to bite. Instead, speak the truth in love!