Archive for the ‘Bible Study’ Category

Powers of the Tongue

February 6, 2009

Well, I was reading my Bible, one night, and one story just inspired me to make this blog. Of course, many of us know the story of Balaam and his donkey. Well, that is not the story I want to focus on. As a matter of fact, I am focusing on what Balaam does after the whole talking donkey scenario, because, to me, this is just too awesome not to be talked about.

First of all, allow me to give you the location of the story: Numbers 23-24. In this story, Balak fears the army of Israel and commands Balaam to speak curses over them, so that he may be able to defeat them and expel them from his land. Ok, skipping the donkey scenario, Balaam is with Balak, and they are up on this high cliff overlooking a portion of the army of Israel. Now, Balaam’s job may have been a priest, because Balak acknowledges Balaam’s power to speak blessings and curses. From reading the story, however, Balak doesn’t seem to know that Balaam is the servant of the Lord. So, after the preparation of the seven altars and their sacrifices, he says his first oracle. However, this not a curse he spoke. Rather, it was a blessing. Balak is obviously not pleased with this oracle, so he leads Balaam to a second spot. Balaam does his preparations, he speaks the second oracle, again a blessing. Balak is pretty annoyed at this point, so he wants Balaam to stop speaking blessings, since it has dawned on him that he’s not getting his curses. So, Balaam and Barak went to a third location. Balaam did his preparations again, except for one thing. He did not meet with the Lord prior to the oracle, because he knew the Lord was pleased with the blessings. So, Balaam does another oracle, again blessing them. Now, Balak has pretty much lost his temper, and he wants Balaam to leave, because he isn’t getting those curses he wants. Well, Balaam delivers a final oracle. This time, it was not just another blessing to Israel, but a curse to the kingdom of Moab, itself. Today, Moab no longer exists as a country, but is now part of the country of Jordan. It is not mentioned in the Bible how the Moabites lost their country and their identity at the hands of prophecy, but it can be assumed that they were conquered and then dispersed by another country. This webpage has more info on Moab and its history.

Anyway, back to the focus of the blog. The tongue has the power to bless and the power to curse. You may have heard the phrase: “loose lips sink ships.” Although the phrase meant making sure not to say anything that may be used as information for enemy spies during World War II, the same phrase may be spoken, though in slightly different context, about the power to bless and the power to curse. Let’s take a look at one of the more immediate effects of curses. Let’s read Mark 11:12-14 and 20-25. Jesus leaves Bethany and, like all of us, gets hungry. He goes to a fig tree to look for figs. Now, take note: the fig tree is not in its season for bearing fruit. Jesus, having seen that there are no figs on that tree, curses the tree. Now, I bet you are wondering: “Well, it’s not in season. Why curse the fig tree?” According to this webpage, the fig tree’s leaves grow after the figs. So, since it produced no figs, yet, it produced leaves, Jesus cursed the fig tree. Anyway, getting back on track, the apostles later find the fig tree withered from its roots. Jesus then mentions the power of the tongue through faith in God.

James understood the power of the tongue when he wrote his letter. He gives us a warning of the consequences of an untamed tongue. He calls the untamed tongue a “restless evil, full of deadly poison.” With this in mind, we should train ourselves to speak good things to ourselves and to others. We should also learn to keep our cool, whenever we are in a situation that gives us a lot of stress, or else we may say things that we will later regret saying. Two proverbs also mention the power of the tongue. Proverbs 12:18 not only mentions the sword-like feature of the cursing tongue, but also notes the healing powers of the tongue that blesses. Proverbs 18:21 says that the tongue even has powers of life and death. It also gives a warning in the second line: “those who love it will eat of its fruit.” Basically, this is an instance of reaping what we sow. If we sow seeds of curses, we reap the fruit of that curse. On the flip side, if we sow seeds of blessings, we reap blessings in return. Let’s not waste an opportunity to bless others, for we may be rewarded with blessings in the future.