1 Rescue me, O LORD, from evil men; protect me from men of violence, 2 who devise evil plans in their hearts and stir up war every day. 3 They make their tongues as sharp as a serpent’s; the poison of vipers is on their lips. (Psalm 140:1-3 NIV)
It is almost depressing to watch the local or national news or to spend any amount of time reading the “news” section of the newspaper. Bad news dominates. There is bloodshed and mayhem spanning the globe, crimes in our neighborhoods that are almost incomprehensible, and it is persists from day-to-day. It is enough to almost convince me to lock the doors and pull the blinds.
The battles that most of us face each day are less dramatic, but devastating nonetheless. I’m an optimist, but I’m enough of a realist to recognize that there are people around me each and every day who are mean and nasty. They don’t stir things up on as broad of a scale as some of the diabolical national leaders who grab headlines, but they place “land mines” in office work spaces, school cafeterias, neighborhoods, and Sunday school classrooms on a regular basis. David says, “They make their tongues as sharp as a serpent’s; the poison of vipers is on their lips.” The kind of people that David pleaded with God to rescue him from didn’t carry guns or knives, but their tongues inflicted incredible pain.
Those that David sought protection from are still with us today. A rumor is started in an office that spreads like wildfire, a boss demeans and belittles those who work for him, lie is told about a young girl at her school that forever damages her reputation, a neighbor walks across the street to plant a seed of suspicion about a family, or a good, church-going “lady” asks someone to pray for sister so-in-so who has “backslidden.” I was taught as a kid that “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words may never harm me.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Sometimes the pain inflicted by words lasts much longer than a broken bone.
James said, “The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.” (James 3:6 NIV) I know that I will never stop rumors, innuendo, slander, and the harm inflicted by words, but I can pray with David that I might be protected from them. I have learned that one way God can protect me is to give me the strength to resist retaliating when these kinds of words are aimed at me.
My prayer today, Lord, is that You will fill my mouth with words that will bless all of those I interact with today regardless of how they speak to me or about me.