Psalm 64: 1 Hear my voice, O God, in my complaint; preserve my life from the dread enemy. 2 Hide me from the secret plots of the wicked, from the scheming of evildoers, 3 who whet their tongues like swords, who aim bitter words like arrows, 4 shooting from ambush at the blameless; they shoot suddenly and without fear. 5 They hold fast to their evil purpose; they talk of laying snares secretly, thinking, “Who can see us?6 Who can search out our crimes?We have thought out a cunningly conceived plot.” For the human heart and mind are deep. 7 But God will shoot his arrow at them; they will be wounded suddenly. 8 Because of their tongue he will bring them to ruin; all who see them will shake with horror. 9 Then everyone will fear; they will tell what God has brought about, and ponder what he has done.
Again, David is under attack by people seeking to betray him, undermine him, do damage behind his back. V.3-4 tell us the form of this betrayal – words. I love the image “who whet their tongues like swords, who aim bitter words like arrows, shooting from ambush at the blameless”. Such wonderfully graphic language to communicate the fact that words can be deadly things.
But David believes the Lord will answer his prayers and deal with his enemies. Just as they use words as arrows, v.7 tells us that God will use arrows/words to defeat them. V.8 says “Because of their tongue he will bring them to ruin”. I think this means God will turn their own words against them. Their deceptions will be revealed. The truth will come out and they will be put to shame. I imagine the hard part for David was watching the lies do damage while waiting for the Lord to act.
I’m reminded how powerful words can be, particularly when we are in positions of leadership or authority. First, being a leader means people will use words in ways that seek to undermine us or diminish our effectiveness. Sometimes this is unintentional, but sometimes it is intentional. Much easier to use words to sow discord or mistrust than to confront a leader directly.
Secondly, being a leader means we need be careful with the words we use. As a younger man and an extrovert, I used to use words rather indiscriminately. I’d say this or that and not consider the consequences. Not good. Words have consequences, especially words directed at people for whom we are responsible or whom we supervise.
Finally, I’m reminded the power of words directed at people whom we love. In this sense, describing words as “arrows” is spot on. Words can build people up, but can also build walls that can last a lifetime.
Heavenly Father, you are a God of truth. It can be incredibly frustrating and difficult to be patient while lies and deceptions run rampant. Help us to wait upon you to expose the lies for what they are. And teach us to be responsible for our own words. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.