Words are actions. Written, spoken or springing to our minds, they aren’t make-believe. They convey intentions. They can’t be taken back, whether delivered flawlessly, flippantly or in jest. The large or small grain of truth has already been fired from the well-aimed barrel of a well-oiled tongue.
This morning I read Psalm 12. It invited me to ponder not just my tongue and what it reveals about me, but the cacophony of words flying about us on any given day.
- Cutting. Slicing. Insinuating.
- Demolishing. Killing. Maiming.
- Flattering. Deceiving. Boasting.
- Lording it over others.
- Maligning the needy and the poor.
- Decrying the rich and the famous.
- Strutting. Preening.
- Poisoning the air with intent to kill, maim, prevail at any cost.
Truth is difficult. It takes an effort. A clear head and a clear heart. Self-knowledge. Honesty and humility.
Here’s the full text of Psalm 12. The psalmist speaks passionately, with hyperbole, so great is his despair as well as trust in the Lord. His despair is not an exaggeration. Neither is his faith.
Psalm 12 (New International Version)
Help, Lord, for no one is faithful anymore;
Those who are loyal have vanished from the human race.
Everyone lies to their neighbor;
They flatter with their lips
But harbor deception in their hearts.
May the Lord silence all flattering lips
And every boastful tongue—
Those who say
“By our tongues we will prevail;
Our own lips will defend us—who is lord over us?”
“Because the poor are plundered and the needy groan,
I will now arise,” says the Lord.
“I will protect them from those who malign them.”
And the words of the Lord are flawless,
Like silver purified in a crucible,
Like gold refined seven times.
You, Lord, will keep the needy safe
And will protect us forever from the wicked,
Who freely strut about
When what is vile is honored by the human race.
Tough words for tough times, yes. Though not without hope for all of us. The damage doesn’t fall simply on the poor and needy. It falls on all of us–those who use their tongues and pens as weapons of war, or those who prefer firing bullets in the privacy of their minds and hearts.
© Elouise Renich Fraser, 21 June 2017
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