To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.
Hear my voice, O God, in my prayer:
preserve my life from fear of the enemy.
Hide me from the secret counsel of the wicked,
from the insurrection of the workers of iniquity:
Who whet their tongue like a sword,
and bend their bows to shoot their arrows, even bitter words:
That they may shoot in secret at the perfect:
suddenly do they shoot at him, and fear not.
They encourage themselves in an evil matter:
they commune of laying snares secretly;
they say, “Who shall see them?”
They search out iniquities; they accomplish a diligent search:
both the inward thought of every one of them, and the heart, is deep.
But God shall shoot at them with an arrow;
suddenly shall they be wounded.
So they shall make their own tongue to fall upon themselves:
all that see them shall flee away.
And all men shall fear, and shall declare the work of God;
for they shall wisely consider of His doing.
The righteous shall be glad in the LORD, and shall trust in Him;
and all the upright in heart shall glory.
Who whet their tongue like a sword
I once saw a Peanuts comic strip in which Linus said to Lucy, “The pen is mightier than the sword,” and Lucy retorted, “But not the tongue.”
She was right. The apostle James hit the nail on the head with his discourse on the tongue.
James 3:2-10 For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, wherever the captain wishes. Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasts great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and has been tamed of mankind: But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.
Hide me from the secret counsel of the wicked
A man arrived at work one morning and noticed that the chatter suddenly stopped as soon as he entered the door. Those who dared to look at him at all gave him only sideways glances. Others excused themselves to the bathroom, or the copy room, or the break room, or simply turned and pretended to be busy. Puzzled, the man went to his desk, logged in to his computer, and prepared to work. Pretty soon the manager called him into the office. “Close the door,” the manager said, then he started in, “I have it from a reliable source that you have been taking private clients on the side, and thus undercutting our business. You know that not only is this unethical, but it is against the company policy that you signed when you were hired, so effective immediately, you’re fired.”
The man calmly absorbed the news, then said, “May I ask who my accusers are?”
His boss said, “They wish to remain anonymous so as to avoid reprisals. But I trust them, for they have no reason to tell me a lie, and they have been with the company a long time. I’m sorry to have to do this to you, for you have never before given me any reason do doubt your loyalty, but I cannot ignore what’s been said about you. In fact, I will have to report this to my superiors, and charges may be filed.”
None of it was true, but the man walked out quietly, collected his belongings, and left. It was not an easy thing for him to do, but he prayed that somehow the truth would come out. And eventually it did.
Several weeks passed, and he received a phone call from his former employer, asking him to come back into the office. He arrived and was ushered into the manager’s office. Again he shut the door. “I owe you an apology,” he started. “I did some digging and found out that the people who turned you in for unethical behavior were the ones who were taking clients on the side. You are innocent of all accusations, and charges have been filed against your accusers because they are the guilty ones.”
“Wow! Praise God,” the man said.
The boss looked puzzled. He asked, “Why didn’t you defend yourself? Why didn’t you tell me you were innocent?”
The man smiled and said, “I knew the truth would come out on its own. I gave the whole situation over to God and let Him handle it because He is much wiser than I am. And if I had tried to defend myself, it would have been my word against theirs. So it was best that I stay out of it and let God fight my battle.”
The manager shook his head and said, “Your faith in God is amazing. He took care of you for sure. Maybe you could tell me more about that later on.”
“I’d love to.”
“Oh, by the way,” the manager continued, “You can have your job back, if you want it—with a raise and a promotion.”
There is much symmetry in this psalm, as God responds to every one of the wicked men’s moves with one of His own.
Wicked’s move — They take secret counsel together (v.2).
God’s move — Their secret shall be made known (vv.8-9).
Wicked’s move — Their tongue is sharp like a sword (v.3).
God’s move — They will fall upon the sword of their own tongue (v.8)
Wicked’s move — They bend their bows & shoot suddenly (v.3).
God’s move — God will shoot at them suddenly (v.7)
Wicked’s move — They have no fear (v.4).
God’s move — All men shall fear and flee away (v.9).
Wicked’s move — The wicked encourage themselves in evil (v.5).
God’s move — The righteous shall encourage themselves in the Lord (v.10).
Wicked’s move — They search out iniquities diligently (v.6)
God’s move — They shall wisely consider the works of God (v.9).
Just like the wicked men David wrote about in Psalm 64, the men in my story worked in secret to devise a plan to bring down an innocent coworker. But their plan backfired, and they themselves were brought down instead. And just like David, this man put his trust in God alone as his defense. Have you been on the receiving end of such an attack? Don’t waste your time and energy defending yourself. Let God be your defense and the truth will come out. I’ve seen it happen firsthand.
And oh, my friend, do not let yourself be on the giving end.
❧ ❧ ❧
Photo taken along Skyline Drive in North Carolina, 2014.