“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me.”
While we may appreciate this children’s rhyme and its intent, we all know it is patently untrue. Who has never been hurt by the words of another? Husbands and wives destroy their marriages with thoughtless and hurtful words. Children are verbally beaten into the dust by a parent who is never satisfied with the child’s work or effort. Entire congregations of God’s people leave their assemblies week after week, licking their collective wounds from the pulpit’s nattering nabobs of negativism.
The wise man wrote many things about the tongue and its use. Among my favorites are these: “Life and death are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit” (Prov 18:21). Also, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver” (Prov 25:11). Consider an Old Testament account where graceful speech would have made all the difference in the world.
In 2 Samuel 6, David has the ark brought to Jerusalem. In his jubilation, David “danced before the Lord with all his might, and David was wearing a linen ephod” (v 14). Seeing David’s display, Michal “despised him in her heart” (v 16).
At her first opportunity, Michal sarcastically mocked David and brutally criticized him for his public display (v 20). In response, David did not consider his wife’s feelings, neither did he weigh his words in retort. Instead, he lashed back at Michal, reminding her that God has chosen him over her father to rule over Israel. Then he fired this shot, “Therefore I will play music before the Lord” (v 21). In other words, ‘I’m the king, and I will do as I please.’ Finally, he said, “And I will be even more undignified than this,” i.e., ‘You think this is bad? You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.’
What began as a story of love (1 Sam 18:20) went up in flames, as the text appears to indicate that David deposed Michal, forcing her to live in childless solitude all of her days.
O how different things could have been, if they had let their speech be with grace! Let your speech be with grace today!