Save me, LORD, from lying lips and from deceitful tongues. (Psalm 120:2, NIV)
I wonder if this is a prayer you and I often pray?
The unknown writer of this Psalm prays that he would be delivered from lying lips and deceitful tongues. In the Hebrew original, lips and tongues are singular, leaving open the possibility that he might be praying that he doesn’t tell lies himself: “Save me… from a lying tongue”. But the rest of the psalm is about the people he’s surrounded with, and so almost certainly he’s asking God to prevent him from being taken in by lies.
For lies are enormously powerful. If we believe a falsehood, we are bound to make poor decisions, because we are not acting in accord with reality. It is surely significant that the first temptation, in Genesis 3, came in the context of lies about God and the way He deals with the world. Even though God had forbidden eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the serpent used lies to make this seem an entirely reasonable course of action. Temptation often works like that.
It is also significant that Jesus calls the devil the father of lies (John 8:44). It seems that this is the main way he does his work: not via witches and ouija boards and all that (wicked though those are), but just through plain, unspectacular untruth. It is via the spread of lies that Christians are often persecuted (Matthew 5:11-12). And don’t you find that when we talk to our non-Christian friends about Jesus, we find they believe lots of things that turn out not to be true - “Christianity’s about pleasing God by being a good person”, or “Weren’t the gospels written centuries after Jesus?” Lies about God, promoted by every non-Christian religion, keep millions in bondage, basing their lives on falsehood.
We need, then, to pray this prayer for ourselves, and for others. And I think we need to pray it more often than we might think! A while ago I read Andrew Marr’s interesting history of journalism, My Trade, and an abiding message of that was “Don’t believe everything you read in the papers”. I think I knew that anyway, but here was a professional confirming it (and I believe he’s telling us the truth!). In our absorption of the media, as well as what others close to us say, we may need to remember the Bible’s standard that everything must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. (2 Corinthians 13:1)
Paul explains that when a person becomes a Christian, they come into the knowledge of the truth. It’s interesting, then, that the first application he makes is that we must put off falsehood in our conversation with each other (Ephesians 4:17-25). The church, he tells Timothy, is the pillar and foundation of the truth (1 Timothy 3:15). That’s why it’s such a disaster when false teaching creeps in to the church itself.
Lest all the above seem rather defensive, remember that in Christ and His gospel we have the ultimate answer to lies: Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. (John 8:32). Once I became a Christian then I started to see the world as it really is.
Day by day, then, let’s be careful how we process the information we receive. Let’s check it out. Let’s pray this prayer. And let’s keep on with sharing the truth of Christ.
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