Psalm 64. The Evil Potential of the Human Tongue.

Today’s Lectio Divina: Excerpts from Psalm 64. (MsgB)

Don’t let them find me— the conspirators out to get me,
Using their tongues as weapons, flinging poison words, poison-tipped arrow-words.
They shoot from ambush, shoot without warning, not caring who they hit.
They keep fit doing calisthenics of evil purpose,
They keep lists of the traps they’ve secretly set.
They say to each other, “No one can catch us, no one can detect our perfect crime.”
The Detective detects the mystery in the dark of the cellar heart.

I wonder who first came up with this little children’s rhyme?

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.

You know, I understand the premise of this old rhyme, but to this little ditty, may I politely say, “Hogwash.”

As I see it, the evilness of a tongue gone sour has few equals on planet earth. For when it comes to the destructive nature of Satan, few things common to man have the unbelievable power to plunder and destroy like the human tongue that speaks without thinking.

Jesus’ earthly brother, James, wrote very clearly to the first century church about the horrendous dangers surrounding a human tongue left uncontrolled. In the third chapter of his letter, James writes this:

A bit in the mouth of a horse controls the whole horse. A small rudder on a huge ship in the hands of a skilled captain sets a course in the face of the strongest winds. A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything—or destroy it! It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell. This is scary: You can tame a tiger, but you can’t tame a tongue—it’s never been done. The tongue runs wild, a wanton killer. With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women He made in His image. Curses and blessings out of the same mouth!

And as I read Psalm 64, I see that King David must have had a similar view of this perilous enemy that sits so innocently inside the cavity of our mouth. A weapon so powerful, it can destroy a human being in seconds. A sword so sharp that it can slice a person to bits in mere moments. A poison so lethal its victim has no hope of survival.

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.


I’ve met people living lives that were devastated by unkind words spoken again and again by people who were supposed to be supportive of that person. Parents. Teachers. Pastors. Spouses. Men and women, who without thinking, joined forces with the enemy himself, destroying another person’s dignity or worth by simply repeating the lies given to them straight from the pit of hell.

Oh, my friends, how the human tongue has destroyed so much of God’s good here on the planet. Without thinking, we ravage one another with our opinions of people and our careless comments on life. So much evil done without thinking.

But then there is the hideous aspect of those of us who consciously choose to destroy others by the use of our words. Apparently this is the case for King David in Psalm 64. Here David’s enemies are on a smear campaign, doing their best to spew their poisonous arrows about King David in any direction they can.

And through it all, we have a loving Father who sees how destructive we humans can be when we fail to bring our tongues back to Him, allowing the Holy to sanctify, purify, and tame these wild horses we have inside our mouths.

O Father, forgive us. We know not what we do.

My prayer: Father God, You gave me a wonderful gift when You placed a tongue inside my mouth. When well-connected to my brain and brought under the full submission to Your will, this amazing muscle of flesh can become life-giving to others, bring hope where there is despair, peace where there is war, and love where there is hate. But when left to my own devices, this tongue of mine can become a bitter pill to both myself and others. An agent of war that needs to be destroyed. Sanctify my tongue, O God. For Your name’s sake. Amen.

My questions to ponder: How have I ignored James’ wisdom written in his New Testament letter and allowed my tongue to run wild with no control over it? Is my tongue sparking a fire of goodness in others or is it setting destructive forest fires that kill and destroy?

So what is God speaking to you today as you ponder the Psalms?

Over a 50-week period, you and I will take a deeper look at The Psalms: God’s Songbook of Prayers. In order to keep all the blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Contemplating the Psalms home page for ease of use. Keep in mind that one of the best ways to explore the on-going applications of this blog series is to walk alongside a biblically-based, Christ-centered spiritual director who is familiar with how to make material like this part of your overall spiritual formation in God. Many of our directors in our Sustainable Faith-Heartland network are available to companion you in your journey with Jesus. Click here for more info.

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