Psalm 140:1-3 (ESV)

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.

Deliver me, O Lord, from evil men;

preserve me from violent men,

[2] who plan evil things in their heart

and stir up wars continually.

[3] They make their tongue sharp as a serpent’s,

and under their lips is the venom of asps. Selah

David calls out to God to be delivered from evil men who plan evil and stir up wars continually. What is it that they are doing? What war is David involved in? What plots have been hatched so that now he fears for his life? Is his cook poisoning the food? Is this written during Absalom’s rebellion? Verse 3 does not tell us the details but it does help us eliminate much from our consideration.

No one at this time, is trying to kill David. No terrorists planting explosive devices. They are using their tongues to destroy him. They are speaking evil against him. They are gossiping and slandering (verse 11) and ridiculing and generally speaking evil. The old adage, “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me”, is simply untrue.

Words can destroy and kill and ruin and incapacitate. They can cause wars to begin and wars to end (loose lips sink ships). David’s agony that we see in this Psalm is caused by the words that have been used against him and he is suffering much because of it. We do well to remember the power of words and develop habits that help us think before we speak. We should never underestimate the power of the tongue for good and for ill.

Read James 3 and pray to have the fruit of the Spirit that is self control in the area of the tongue. Here is one area where we see the need for the miraculous power of the indwelling Spirit of God. So many Christians proclaiming various signs and wonders as evidence of the work of the Spirit in their lives. You don’t need to chase after such things. Demonstrate the power of God by holding your tongue when there is opportunity to speak evil and let it wag when you can honour God with it.

James 3:5-12

5So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! 6And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. 7For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, 8but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. 11Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? 12Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.