To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David. Do not keep silent, O God of my praise! 2 For the mouth of the wicked and the mouth of the deceitful Have opened against me; They have spoken against me with a lying tongue. 3 They have also surrounded me with words of hatred, And fought against me without a cause. 4 In return for my love they are my accusers, But I [give myself to] prayer. 5 Thus they have rewarded me evil for good, And hatred for my love.PSALM 109:1-5
I GIVE MYSELF TO PRAYER
I was taught a lie when I was younger. Someone taught me to say, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” But sometimes words do hurt and to be honest the impact of words can last longer than mere physical bruises or even broken bones. As a pastor I’ve dealt with many folks who faced challenges in life precisely because of something that someone else said to them or about them. Words like gossip and insults can do real damage.
James reminds us that, “Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue [is] a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell” (James 3:5-6).
So where do we go when someone uses their tongue against us? What do we do when we receive insults or others gossip about us? Sometimes our reaction can be to hurl back insults or to gossip about the gossipers. We want some sort of retribution. We want them to feel what we feel… but that’s not what David does. David talks to God about those who are talking about him. Like Nehemiah he turns insults into intercession. Indeed this is what Jesus commands us to do in the gospel of Matthew, “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,” (Matthew 5:44).
What grace and comfort there is to talk to the Lord about those who have been talking about us. He knows what we endure. To confess to our Lord the feelings we have and ask for grace to minister to those who have been so mean to us is a healing balm for our soul. Words do hurt, and there are few things that can render their intended poison ineffective. Prayer and forgiveness for our enemies go a long way towards doing that.
There was a church who really hurt my family growing up. They said things about my dad in ignorance that lead to his resignation as their pastor. I hated church and church people for a long time and I knew they were all hypocrites. But when I took seriously the word of God about forgiveness and Matthew 5:44 God did something wonderful in my life and the life of that church. You can read a bit about that story here.
Father, Thank you for hearing my prayers. I am reminded that while I was still your enemy Christ died for me. Sometimes it seems like people make themselves our enemies by the words they say. Gossip and insults surely don’t win us friends. You know how I’ve been hurt by words of others. I thank you for the grace of taking my hurts to you. I thank you for the privilege of praying for others. I thank you that by merely praying my perspective on those who offer slander and malicious gossip changes from a position of defense to a posture of grace. I want everyone to experience the same grace that I have experienced from you. I know that while there are times I’ve been abused by others words, certainly there were times where I abused others with my words as well. I thank you for your grace and forgiveness. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
I’m reading and blogging the Psalms Through The Summer. I’d love for you to join me. You can find out a little more here.