“Be as much troubled by unjust praises, as by unjust slanders.” –Philip Henry
Can Christ be in the heart when the devil is in the tongue? This is the question you are left to ponder after reading the twelfth psalm. The answer is easy, no. When Christ, by sovereign initiative and human invitation enters the life of a person he becomes Lord of their life, Captain of their soul. The tongue is little better than a deck hand who may attempt a mutinous grab at the rudder. For the Christian, there may be an occasional lapse (i.e., an unkind word) but our divine Pilot never gives up the helm. (see James 3)
In this psalm, David is concerned not only that, “everyone utters lies to his neighbor…” but that, “with flattering lips and a double heart they speak.” (v. 2) Most of us are able to recognize a lie, a little more difficult is to discern the lie that cloaks itself in flattery. This form of lying is just as pernicious and ultimately damages the person upon whom it is lavished. Thus, Solomon writes, “A lying tongue hates its victims, and a flattering mouth works ruin.” (Prov. 26:28) Those persons who engage in the lie of flattery are persons who are not surrendering to the lordship of Christ. They make the blasphemous claim, “With our tongue we will prevail, our lips are with us; who is master over us?” (v. 4) John Howe describes their claim and insidious question, “Wicked men might as well as say the same thing of their whole selves; our bodies, strength, time, etc., are our own, and who is Lord over us?” [Treasury of David, 147] So be careful not to receive unjust praise or flattery. It is a pill sweet to swallow but embittering to the life.
In contrast to this, David writes that, “The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times.” (Psalm 12:6) The way of honor is not found in the flatter’s fold but on the road to rebuke. Proverbial wisdom tells us, “Whoever rebukes a man will afterward find more favor than he who flatters with his tongue.” (Proverbs 28:23) A rebuke when based on God’s word and done in God’s way (drenched in love) may accomplish great good. Remember that rebuke is a pill bitter to swallow but sweetening to the life. Today ask God to make you honest and loving in both heart and tongue.
Have a blessed week and we will see you this Sunday at The Cotillion or via Facebook (livestreaming).
Love in Christ,