April 24: Tongues, Flames, and Other Things That Devour
Joshua 12:1–13:32; 2 Corinthians 11:7–15; Psalm 52:1–53:6
I’d like to skip over the description of the “mighty man” in Psa 52. Of all of his destructive influences, the mighty man is most judged for his use of words. The psalmist’s words burn because I’ve set more than a few forests ablaze with careless words (Jas 3:5). So how should someone like me respond to the psalmist’s judgment?
“Why do you boast about evil, O mighty man? The loyal love of God endures continually. Your tongue plans destruction, like a sharp razor, working deceit. You love evil more than good, a lie more than speaking what is right. You love all devouring words, O deceitful tongue” (Psa 52:1–4).
Prideful self-reliance is at the root of the evil man’s devouring, razor-sharp tongue. He boasts to make himself appear mighty. He takes “refuge in his destructiveness” (Psa 52:7). In contrast, the psalmist finds refuge in God, in the sanctuary of His loyal love: “But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God. I trust in the loyal love of God forever and ever” (Psa 52:8).
On my own, I’m more like the mighty man than the stable and prosperous olive tree. I can try to manage my words, fabricating my sense of security on the basis of good behavior. But efforts born out of self-reliance—the root problem of my flippant speech—always fail me. Unless I recognize the foolishness of my pride, I cannot see my desperate need for God. Without hope in Jesus, who provided refuge through His sacrifice, I’ll never resemble the psalmist’s prosperous olive tree.
Oftentimes, the places where we fail so miserably, where we need the most grace, are also the places we see God’s work all the more. His Spirit changes us into people who bear the fruit of thankfulness. It makes us ever more eager to say with the psalmist: “I will give thanks to you forever, because of what you have done” (Psa 52:9).
Where do you see pride and self-reliance taking root in your life?
REBECCA VAN NOORD
- And these are the Kings of the land, which the children of Israel smote and possesed their land on the other side of Jordan toward the rising of the sun, from the river Arnon, unto mount Hermon, and all the plain Eastward. Sihon king of the Amorites, that dwelt in Heshbon, having dominion from Aroer, which is beside the river Arnon, and from the middle of the river, and from half Gilead unto the river of Jabbok, in the border of the children of Ammon. And from the plain unto the sea of Chinneroth Eastward, and unto the sea of the plain, even the salt sea Eastward, the way to Beth Jeshimoth, and from the South under the springs of Pisgah. They conquered also the coast of Og king of Bashan of the remnant of the giants, which dwelt at Ashtaroth, and at Edrei, And reigned in mount Hermon, and in Salcah, and in all Bashan, unto the border of the Geshurites, and the Maachathites, and half Gilead: even the border of Sihon king of Heshbon. Moses the servant of the Lord, and the children of Israel smote them: Moses also the servant of the Lord gave their land for a possession unto the Reubenites, and unto the Gadrites, and to half the tribe of Manasseh. These also are the kings of the country, which Joshua and the children of Israel smote on this side Jordan, Westward from Baal Gad in the valley of Lebanon, even unto the mount Halak that goeth up to Seir, and Joshua give it unto the tribes of Israel for a possession, according to their portions. The King of Jericho was one: the king of Ai, which is beside Bethel, one: The king of Jerusalem, one: the king of Hebron, one: The king of Jarmuth, one: the king of Lachish, one: The king of Eglon, one: the king of Gezer, one: The king of Debit, one: the king of Geder, one: The king of Hormah, one: the king of Arad, one: The king of Libnah, one: the king of Abdullam, one: The king of Makkedah, one: the king of Bethel, one: The king of Tappuah, one: the king of Hepher, one: The king of Aphek, one: the king of Lasharon, one: The king of Madon, one: the king of Hazor, one: The king of Shimron Meron, one: the king of Achshaph, one: The king of Taanach, one: the king of Megiddo, one: The king of Kedesh, one: the king of Jokneam of Carmel, one: The king of Dor, in the country of Dor, one: the king of the nations of Gilgal, one: The king of Tirzah, one. All the kings were thirty and one. Now when Joshua was old, and stricken in years, the Lord said unto him, Thou art old and grown in age, and there remaineth exceeding much land to be possessed: This is the land that remaineth, all the regions of the Philistines, and all Geshuri. From Nilus which is in Egypt, evenn unto the border of Ekron Northward: this is counted of the Canaanites, even five Lordships of the Philistines, the Gazites, and the Ashdodites, the Ashkelonites, the Gittites, and the Ekronites, and the Avites: From the South, all the land of the Canaanites, and the cave that is beside the Sidonians, unto Aphek, and to the borders of the Amorites: And the land of the Gebalites, and all Lebanon toward the Sun rising from Baal Gad under mount Hermon, until one come to Hamath. All the inhabitants of the mountains from Lebanon unto Misrephoth, and all the Sidonians, I will cast them out from before the children of Israel: only divide thou it by lot unto the Israelites, to inherit, as I have commanded thee. Now therefore divide this land to inherit, unto the nine tribes, and to the half tribe of Manasseh. For with half thereof the Reubenites and the Gadites have received their inheritance, which Moses gave them beyond Jordan Eastward, even as Moses the servant of the Lord had given them. From Aroer that is on the brink of the river Arnon, and from the city that is in the midst of the river, and all the plain of Medeba unto Dibon, And all the cities of Sihon king of the Amorites, which reigned in Heshbon, unto the borders of the children or Ammon, And Gilead, and the borders of the Geshurites and of the Maachathites, and all mount Hermon, with all Bashan unto Salcah: All the kingdom of Og of Bashan, which reigned in Ashtaroth and in Edrei: (who remained of the rest of the giants) for these did Moses smite, and cast them out: But the children of Israel expelled not the Geshurites not the Maachathites: but the Gershurites and the Maachathites dwell among the Israelites even unto this day. Only unto the tribe of Levi he gave none inheritance, but the sacrifices of the Lord God of Israel are his inheritance, as he said unto him. Moses then gave unto the tribe of the children of Reuben inheritance, according to their families. And their coast was from Aroer, that is on the brink of the river Arnon, and from the city that is in the midst of the river, and all the plain which is by Medeba: Heshbon with all the cities thereof, that are in the plain: Dibon and Bamoth Baal, and Beth Baal Meon: And Jahaza, and Kedemoth, and Mephaath: Kirjathaim also, and Sibmah, and Zereth Shahar in the mount of Emek: And Beth Peor, and Ashdoth Pisgah, and Beth Jeshimoth: And all the cities of the plain, and all the kingdom of Sihon king of the Amorites, which reigned in Heshbon, whom Moses smote with the Princes of Midian, Evi and Rekem, and Zur, and Hur, and Reba, the dukes of Sihon, dwelling in the country. And Balaam son of Beor the soothsayer did the children of Israel slay with the sword, among them that were slain. And the border of the children of Reuben was Jordan with the coasts. This was the inheritance of the children of Reuben according to their families, with the cities and their villages. Also Moses gave inheritance unto the tribe of Gad, even unto the children of Gad according to their families. And their coasts were Jazer, and all the cities of Gilead, and half the land of the children of Ammon unto Aroer, which is before Rabbah: And from Heshbon unto Ramath, Mizpah, and Betonim: and from Mahanaim unto the borders of Debir: And in the valley of Beth Haram, and Beth Nimrah, and Succoth, and Zaphon, the rest of the kingdom of Sihon king of Heshbon unto Jordan and the borders even unto the sea coast of Chinnereth, beyond Jordan Eastward. This is the inheritance of the children of Gad after their families, with the cities and their villages. Also Moses gave inheritance unto the half tribe of Manasseh: and this belonged to the half tribe of the children of Manasseh according to their families. And their border was from Mahanaim, even all Bashan, and all the towns of Jair which are in Bashan, threescore cities, And half Gilead, and Ashtaroth, and Edrei, cities of the kingdom of Og in Bashan, were given unto the children of Machir the son of Manasseh to half of the children of Machir after their families. These are the heritages, which Moses did distribute in the plain of Moab beyond Jordan toward Jericho Eastward. But unto the tribe of Levi Moses gave none inheritance: for the Lord God of Israel is their inheritance, as he said unto them. Joshua 12:1–13:32
- Have I committed an offence, because I abased myself, that ye might be exaltd, because I preached to you the Gospel of God freely? I robbed other Churches, and too wages of them to do you service. And when I was present with you, and had need, I was not slothful to the hindrance of any man: for that which was lacking unto me, the brethren which I kept, and will keep myself, that I should not be grievous unto you. The truth of Christ is in me, that this rejoicing shall not be shut up against me in the regions of Achaia. Wherefore? because I love you not? God knoweth But what I do, that will I do, that I may cut away occasion from them which desire occasion, that they might be found like unto us in that wherein they rejoice. For such false apostles are deceitful workers, and transform themselves into the Apostles of Christ. And no marvel: for Satan himself is transformed into an Angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing, though his ministers transform themselves, as though they were the ministers of righteousness, whose end shall be according to their works. 2 Corinthians 11:7–15
- Have mercy upon me, God, according to thy loving-kindness: according to the multitude of thy compassions put away mine iniquities. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from mine sin. For I know the iniquities, and my sin is ever before me. Agaisnt thee, against thee only have I sinned, and done evil in thy sight, that thou mayest be just when thou speakest, and pure when thou judgest. Behold, I was born in iniquity, and in sin hath my mother conceived me. Behold, thou lovest truth in the inward affections: therefore hast thou taught me wisdom in the secret of mine heart. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness, that the bones, which thou hast broken, may rejoice. Hide thy face from my sins, and put away all mine iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, which art the God of my salvation, and my tongue shall sing joyfully of thy righteousness. Open thou my lips, O Lord, and my mouth shall show forth thy praise. For thou desirest no sacrifice, though I would give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a contrite spirit: a contrite and broken hearted, O God, thou wilt not despise. Be favorable unto Zion for thy good pleasure: build the walls of Jericho. Then shalt thou accept the sacrifices of righteousness, even the burnt offering and oblation: then shall they offer calves upon thine altar. Psalm 52:1–53:6