It is not what enters the mouth that defiles the person, but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles the person.Matthew 15:11.
Do our words really matter?
Most people would answer yes. And to that end I completely agree.
There are many reasons and the most obvious is that our words and nonverbal actions hold a lot of power. We don’t always realize the power and the weight behind our words, no matter how light our conversations, but the impact is inevitable.
I’ve pondered on one-liners said by my husband or friends which completely altered my perspective or changed my attitude towards something. When I mentioned the impact to them later, they usually reply, “I forgot I even said that.”
Another reason our words are important is because they shape how you view yourself and others. In my post about the previous letter Ayin, we learned its definition (eye) which represents our sight and insight. This next letter in Psalm 119, Pe, means mouth, which is what gives our insight expression.
As we dive into the definition, I’d like to point out that the Hebrew alphabet was set up intentionally. Each letter’s form and its order is specific and purposeful. For example, Ayin sets up the letter Pe. Both its drawing formation and the meanings help build on life principles to apply to your life. Ayin suggests the priority of your eyes (having insight) before having something to say. But if we reverse the order and get hasty with our words, we become fools like Proverbs says (Proverbs 18:2, 29:30).
Definition of Pe
The word Peh means “mouth.” It also represents words, expressions, and speech. Like we often refer eyes as windows to the soul, the mouth is like the door. It reveals a majority of what we contain in our perception, motives, and attitudes (read this to learn more).
Throughout the Bible, we’re encouraged to be slow to speak, observe our words, and bring life and encouragement to ourselves and others (James 1:19, Ephesians 4:29). There is power behind what we choose to say and the way represent ourselves, for it always affects other people to some extent.
Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit. (Proverbs 18:21).
In this next section of Psalm 119, Pe and its meanings help us understand the psalm written to God. Through the psalmist’s perspective, we’ll learn how our words matter in different situations; how we can make God’s Word internal before it becomes verbal; how to make our walk louder than our talk; and how to think before we speak.
Through these mini-nuggets, we’ll also learn that no matter what we say, we can find redemption, forgiveness, and become better stewards of our words.
129 Your testimonies are wonderful; Therefore, my soul complies with them.
130 The unfolding of Your words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple.
131 I opened my mouth wide and panted, For I longed for Your commandments.
132 Turn to me and be gracious to me, As is right for those who love Your name.
133 Establish my footsteps in Your word, And do not let any wrongdoing have power over me.
134 Redeem me from oppression by man, So that I may keep Your precepts.
135 Make Your face shine upon Your servant, And teach me Your statutes.
136 My eyes shed streams of water, Because they do not keep Your Law.Psalm 119:129-136
Internal Before Verbal
Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you.Colossians 3:16
Because of Ayin’s insight, the psalmist recognizes that God’s testimonies are wonderful in the first verse. Therefore, his soul complies with them. Through this, we can note the importance of internalizing God’s Word so that we can live them out. What you internalize will eventually come out of your mouth.
For example, what you think about, watch, read, do, often reflects in your conversations. Someone who is really interested in football will resort to conversations about football. They will use terms, allegories, and metaphors while conversing (not all the time, but evidently enough). The more time you spend in the Word, the more you’ll talk about it. It becomes internal and then, verbal.
In the Jewish culture, it’s custom for young children to memorize the entire Torah, including Jesus. He had to study and memorize it just like the other kids. And when He was older and went into the wilderness to fast, He rebuked Satan’s temptations by quoting scripture. He internalized the Word as a youngster and verbalized it against temptation. This internalization prepared Him to proclaim the Good News as an adult thereafter.
Takeaway: Listen to yourself during conversations. What do you talk about more than anything else? What do you think about when you’re alone? What topics do you resort to? Based on your answer, take the psalmist’s approach and look at God’s wonderful Word to internalize and reflect it.
Walk Louder Than You Talk
When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that men may see them. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.Matthew 5:5
When we hear God’s voice, we want more of it.
One way to recognize His voice is by studying the Word. Like verse 130 says, God’s Word and His voice give light and understanding. It deepens our insight to live our life in wisdom and truth. It’s important to study the Bible, but it’s equally important to put His truth into practice. Mere knowledge is not enough.
We are often quick to speak and share opinions, but in verse 131, the psalmist gives a better example: open your mouth and pant/long for His Word first. Not just what’s written on the surface, but its context to know God better. By learning His Word and slowing down our speech, we show humility because our actions are now louder.
As of this writing, I’m reading through a fictional series called The Wakefield Dynasty: The Ramparts of Heaven by Gilbert Morris. There was an instance where the protagonist has a conversation with a Moravian settler about a renown scholar and preacher. The protagonist praised the preacher and said he doesn’t know anyone else who knows the scriptures better, to which the settler replies, “Ya, he knows the Scripture. But it is better, I tink, to know the God who wrote the Scripture.”
In Matthew 23, Jesus talks about the Pharisees and how they say things and do not do them. They talk about their good works more than actually doing them. Basically, their speech is faster than their actions. In order for our walk to be louder than our talk, we must pursue God and His Word so that we can reflect it.
Takeaway: It’s easy to give unsolicited advice, or speak your mind, and it’s actually popular to share your own opinion. But try going against the grain and holding off next time you feel the need to say something. Now, don’t stay quiet if God prompts you to speak, but pursue to reflect Jesus in all that you do.
Think Before You Speak
Like apples of gold in settings of silver, is a word spoken at the proper time.Proverbs 25:11
In the next four verses, the psalmist seeks to be established in God’s Word before speaking out of his emotions. Even though we know this common saying, think before you speak, we don’t always do it. We often try to speak fast to get our point across, but the verse from Proverbs helps remind us that it’s better to speak at the proper time.
To be established in God’s Word is to be familiar with the Truth. The psalmist asks God to turn and be gracious to him, and reminds him it’s part of God’s promise to do so: as is right for those who love your name (or Romans 8:28). Through Holy Spirit’s help, we can get established in our walk and internalize God’s wisdom. And when we ask God to make His face shine upon us, we actively seek His knowledge and truth instead of relying on ourselves.
I often get caught up in my own words and talk faster than I can think. Through the help of my husband and close friends, I learned that it’s wiser to pace myself when I talk and process each word before I say it. By slowing down, I can then carefully and confidently say what needs to be said at the proper time, instead of throwing worthless pebbles in conversations.
Colossians 4:6 says, your speech must always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person. This doesn’t mean we’re left alone determine if we’re doing this or not. God gave us the Holy Spirit to help assess our words and teach us to be quick to listen and slow to speak. Through His help, we can give timely words and careful advice or wisdom to others. Having slower speech saves us from any wrongdoing to have a power over us, and redeems us from any oppression (verse 133-134).
Takeaway: think before you speak 🙂
Sometimes it’s our best bet to let our lives speak louder than our mouths. There’s only so much you can say, because ultimately, you make your own decisions and answer for yourself like anyone else. Our hearts can break and grieve when we see others living outside of God, but again, that’s not in our control.
What is in our control is to be a source of encouragement, love, and truth no matter what. In verse 136, the psalmist ends on a sad note, but it’s ok because we’re not left there. Like the letter Ayin set up Pe, Pe sets up the next letter, Tsadhe.
As you continue studying God’s Word, I encourage you to internalize it so that it can affect your future conversations, to let your walk be louder than your talk, and to think before you speak. May your words be gentle, loving, and filled with power in all your conversations.
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