“They speak vanity every one with his neighbor: with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak. The Lord shall cut off all flattering lips and the tongue that speaketh proud things:” (Psalm 12:2-3)
This twelfth psalm presents a real war of words. The opening statement is a cry for help from the author, describing a desperate situation. As he looked at the culture around him it appeared that true believers were rapidly becoming extinct. Godly people were harder and harder to find, and the company of faithful men was simply disappearing.
David chose to describe the conflict in the colorful arena of speech.
The early verses set the stage and define the two sides. The first protagonists were “every neighbor,” and their weapons, the flexible members inside and outside their mouths. Lips and tongue, each so vital to physical health and intelligent communication, were their supposed instruments of victory. With them they yelled, “Who is lord over us?”
In blatant provocation towards God, they proceeded in jesting, in boasting, and in flattering one another. As often happens, those who had the position and opportunity to do so, ultimately turned their tongues on the poor and needy. Society became one chaotic competition of proud human beings, venting their frustrations at one another and towards heaven.
Does this sound uncomfortably familiar? It is at that point in the song where the Lord breaks in with the words, “Now will I arise.” Then comes a beautiful definition of the other side. God’s words are pure, like the purest silver man can produce.
At first it may sound like odd language to bring into a battle scene, but the logic is as solid as it is eternal. This universe was brought into being and is maintained by the pristine Word of its Creator. There is nothing dirty about it nor does it ever lose control. The Word of God has always been and always will be characterized by beauty and almighty power.
We should not be surprised then, to see that when the incarnation happened the war reached a climactic level. As the Lord moved among enemies, bystanders, and followers, the battle raged with ferocious intensity. And yet, under a depth of pressures we cannot fathom, His speech was always the perfect mix of authority and grace.
What does all this mean for us? As tiny warriors in this same battle, our weapons are of the same nature. The words that shoot out through our lips should be like silver arrows as well. They should reflect the character of our Captain.
Most likely, you and I will converse with someone today. What we say and how we say it will come together to create a message. Every conversation will be part of this age old war between truth and error, a war that first started for us about the time Eve talked with the Snake.
So when we speak, what side of this conflict will we appear to be on?
Dear Father, thank you for making clear the nature of your Word. Thank you for the perfect consistency of your Son when He spoke among men. Help me keep a close watch on my speech today, so I can honor you like I want to, with pure and gracious words.