Sticks & Stones

“I will praise You forever, O God, for what You have done. I will trust in Your good name in the presence of Your faithful people.”
– Psalms 52:9

There’s a children’s rhyme that reads, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”   It is reported to have appeared in The Christian Recorder of March, 1862, a publication of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Some feel the application of this adage is effective, but that assumption may be in error.  Words do hurt and the impact can be long reaching.

Leaders are likely targets for the taunting of verbal terrorists.  The shepard-King was no stranger to destructive slander.  David recounts his outrage over Doeg’s report to Saul of David’s meeting with Ahimilech.  Doeg’s report was rooted in pride and wrought devastating damage, “Then King Saul said to Doeg, ‘You turn and strike the priests.’ And Doeg the Edomite turned and struck down the priests, and he killed on that day eighty-five persons who wore the linen ephod. And Nob, the city of the priests, he put to the sword; both man and woman, child and infant, ox, donkey and sheep, he put to the sword.” (1 Samuel 22:18-19). In Psalm 52, David pens his pain over this horrific act.

Destructive Words.  David declared God’s faithful justice through Doeg’s faulty justification.  David writes, “Why do you boast about your crimes, great warrior? Don’t you realize God’s justice continues forever? All day long you plot destruction. Your tongue cuts like a sharp razor; you’re an expert at telling lies.” (Ps 52:1-2).  Destructive words reveal a deception walk.  The psalmist continues, “You love to destroy others with your words, you liar!” (Ps 52:4)  Just as the father of lies comes to kill, steal and destroy, so does the one whose words are filled with prideful, slanderous life taking words.

Deceptive Trust.  Those ruled by malice rest in thier own wealth, accomplishments and recognition.  David gives a warning, “Look what happens to mighty warriors who do not trust in God. They trust their wealth instead and grow more and more bold in their wickedness.” (Ps 52:7). Spurgeon writes, “If riches increase, set not your heart upon them.” Now, what is the setting the heart upon riches but our rejoicing and trusting in them?The apostle is urgent with Timothy to persuade all rich men – not only mere worldly rich men, but godly rich men – against it; yea, he urgeth Timothy to persuade rich men against two sins – the usual attendants of riches – pride and confidence.”

Decisive Response. David responds with a declaration of his dependency. “But I am like an olive tree, thriving in the house of God. I will always trust in God’s unfailing love. I will praise you forever, O God, for what you have done. I will trust in your good name in the presence of your faithful people.” (Psalms 52:8-9). This is how we get through. We trust in His unfailing love. We believe that He is with us, He cares about us, and He will never abandon us.

We rarely escape from the tongues of terrorists or the slander of the self-serving.  When they come . . . thrive in the presence of His peace.  Trust in His unfailing love.  Praise Him in your pain.  Claim His good name.

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