Do you rulers indeed speak justly?
Do you judge people with equity?
No, in your heart you devise injustice,
and your hands mete out violence on the earth.
Even from birth the wicked go astray;
from the womb they are wayward, spreading lies.
Their venom is like the venom of a snake,
like that of a cobra that has stopped its ears,
that will not heed the tune of the charmer,
however skillful the enchanter may be.
Break the teeth in their mouths, O God;
LORD, tear out the fangs of those lions!
Let them vanish like water that flows away;
when they draw the bow, let their arrows fall short.
May they be like a slug that melts away as it moves along,
like a stillborn child that never sees the sun.
Before your pots can feel the heat of the thorns —
whether they be green or dry—the wicked will be swept away.
The righteous will be glad when they are avenged,
when they dip their feet in the blood of the wicked.
Then people will say,
“Surely the righteous still are rewarded;
surely there is a God who judges the earth.”
Words hold immense power. God did not think the world into existence; he spoke it. And as people created in his image and likeness, our words have power too. They can build up or tear down, bring healing or inflict wounds. In this psalm, David addresses those who speak deceitfully and wickedly, describing their words as venomous and harmful. It is a reminder that our words have consequences, and how we use them can shape our relationships, communities, and even our hearts.
The power of words is not a concept limited to the Old Testament. James writes extensively about the impact of our words. He compares the tongue to a small spark that can set a forest on fire. He emphasizes the need for controlling our speech, saying that "the tongue is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body" (James 3:6). Proverbs 18:21 says, "The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit." It means those who love to talk can cause irreparable damage by what they say.
There was once a young boy who used to put down his classmates with harsh and unkind words. One day, his teacher wanted to teach him a lesson. So he gave him a bag filled with feathers and asked him to scatter them in the schoolyard. The boy did as he was told, releasing the feathers into the wind. When he was done, the teacher asked him to return the feathers to the bag. The boy told her it was impossible; the wind had blown the feathers far and wide. The teacher explained, "Your words are like those feathers. Once they leave your mouth, you cannot take them back."
So, let us be mindful of what we say and follow the example of Jesus, who always spoke with love, truth, and grace, warning against doing otherwise. "But I tell you," he said, "that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned" (Matthew 12:36-37).
As we sing this psalm, let us examine our speech and consider how our words impact others. Instead of using them to deceive or harm, we should encourage, uplift, and bring healing to those around us. So, hurt or heal? You choose.
God bless you.