The War of Words
Father, may I trust that when I reach for strength, You’ll give it; when I ask for wisdom, You’ll provide it.
Read Psalm 12:1-8
 For the director of music. According to
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
To renew my deliberate trustfulness I say to myself several times, “When anxiety was great within me, Your consolation brought joy to my soul” (Psa. 94:19). Try it today.
Verses 1 and 8 remind me that prayer does not necessarily change my circumstances but, rather, renews my strength to pass through them. The beginning of this psalm is filled with chatter, tweets, lies, empty talk, the double tongue and bombast. At the end, the wicked are still strutting around and vileness (cheapness, excess) still achieves celebrity, despite the psalmist’s cry for God to intervene (3). So what does the prayer achieve? Verse 5 shows that the psalmist receives an assurance that the Lord does see the “comfortless troubles … of the needy”; he hears their groaning and he will “place them in the safety for which they pant” (5c, literally translated).
I join the psalmist in his delighted meditation in v. 6 on the words of the Lord, their purity, their value and their perfection. I think of the eighteenth-century prison reformer, John Howard, racked with fever in The Hague, surrounded by vileness, meditating on the psalms. James 3:1-12 reminds us that no one can tame the tongue: the only blunt instrument that grows sharper with constant use! Have I been a victim in a war of words? Have I been damaged by some cruel taunt or angry slur which has reverberated in my heart, perhaps for years?
Am I now troubled by lies, gossip or flattery? I turn into the pure light of the Lord’s promises, which exceed all that I can desire. I allow my heart to be warmed by words which bring light and peace to the heart: suffering, silence, prayer, love, adoration, death on the cross. It is by facing up to the devil’s lies that I grasp the truth more clearly. It is by feeling the lure of celebrity that my rejection of it becomes more clear-eyed and sober. I walk out into the world with my head held high.
Has anyone’s words hurt you? Ask God for healing. Have your words hurt others? Ask God for forgiveness.
Lord, put a guard on my lips so that I am careful with my words. I want to use words that build others up, not hurt and harm them.
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