Taming Your Tongue

Have you ever lashed out at someone and regretted it as soon as the words left your mouth?  It happens too often in the middle of a bad day or struggling marriage or frustrations with your children when you just snap.  You feel like you’ve lost control and the energy is so intense that you can’t even manage the thoughts running through your head and it seems like words leave your mouth without permission.  We are guided in the bible to tame our tongues.

Ephesians 4:29
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

Proverbs 15:1

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

James 3:9-10
With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.

Almost every day I deal with a teenager and her untamed tongue.  She lashes out at her little sister and calls her stupid or adds the flare of attitude to every word she says when she talks to me.  It drives me nuts.  I can’t seem to tame her tongue but instead it unleashes a cycle that spirals down and crashes with her slamming her door or me walking away after grounding her.  She doesn’t understand the consequences of her words.

Neither did Nabal in 1 Samuel 25:1-13.

I can just hear the attitude in Nabal’s voice when he speaks to David’s men.  David, who has a history of being rejected, doesn’t take this well.

How would you have reacted if you were David?  How would you have reacted if you were Nabal?  What do we know about David?  What do we know about Nabal?

We know more about David in the Bible because he’s a more prominent and important person and played a significant role slaying Goliath and becoming King.  We know that David never loses his love for God. According to Psalm 51:5 he was sinful from the time his mother conceived him.  In Psalm 69:8 he says “I am a foreigner to my own family, a stranger to my own mother’s children.”  When his father, Jesse, is asked to present all of his sons to be chosen as the anointed one, he purposefully leaves out David and has him attending sheep in the fields.  Most other prophets, leaders, and patriarchs have their mothers mentioned in the bible and David’s mother is not, except in these few words.  She is believed to have been a prostitute and David was conceived in sin.  His brothers were mean to him.  Psalm 69:21 says they put gall in his food and gave him vinegar for his thirst.  Read Psalm 69:1-3-4.  After he is anointed and taken to be with Saul, he soothes the demons in Saul’s mind and serves him and works hard to please him.  He, again, is rejected and chased by him across the country because Saul becomes jealous from his acts and valor. Can you imagine how David would feel after all that he has been through?  Can you relate to him personally?

When he is being chased by King Saul he writes Psalm 57:1-3,7 and Psalm 59:14-16. When you are amidst the storm are you saying prayers like this?

Who or what do you turn to as a refuge before turning to God? What does it look like to take refuge in God when someone else hurts or attacks you?

Nabal rejected David. Saul threatened David. But what had David done?  He had humbly served the king and protected Nabal’s men-and this is how he was repaid?

So this leads us to Abigail and the purpose of our woman study.  Abigail is one woman people are less likely to know from the Bible.  She is described as smart and wise and beautiful but has the bad luck of being married to a fool, Nabal.  Remember back then that a lot of marriages were arranged and Nabal had money. His name meant “stupid” though which was a perfect description for some of his choices.

One thing we learn from this story is about consequences of blurting out harsh words before thinking it through. The opposite party has their button of rejection pushed and retaliates with attempts and threats of murdering hundreds.  Now Abigail brings peace to the situation.

In 1 Samuel 25:23-31, what is Abigail’s demeanor as she delivers her message?  How does this demonstrate her wisdom?

The Bible says that to be wise, we must “fear the Lord” (Deuteronomy 10:12) and respect Him and submit to Him.  The Bible says a lot about fearing God.  What does it look like to fear the Lord in your life?

Abigail didn’t fear her husband or the 400-600 men that were waiting to slaughter her family and friends.  She feared the Lord. Because she feared God, when tempers were raging, she found peace in God.  When damaging words were spoken, she spoke in the grace of God.  If we struggle with a similar situation, we should reflect on James 1:5 that says “if any of you lack wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”

Reading 1 Samuel 25:32-33, how does David react?  He melts.  He accepts Abigail and her gifts and shows her people mercy.

Abigail returns to Nabal and he’s drunk and feasting on his wealth.  She tells him the next day of the situation and how she saved the day.  He died 10 days later.

In what situations have you had to be a peacemaker?

So David hears about Abigail’s approach to Nabal and his death.  She is still in his thoughts and he was amazed by her.  He proposes to her and takes her with him as his wife.  Beauty overcomes barbarism.

Abigail’s willingness to serve and humble herself reversed the anger David had.  We are called daily to do the same.  We should seek to be humble and be peacemakers in the world.  What ways can we make a difference and shed the light on all of the darkness?

Pay it forward?  Tame your tongue?  Walk away from disputes and battles as the victor?

Max Lucado describes Abigail’s situation as this:
“We live in a world where we all are little kings of our own kingdoms.  We want our way and we want it now.  Humility looks like a foreigner in our selfish society.  It stands out, goes against, and contrasts the norm just like Abigail.  Abigail goes against the selfish hostility surrounding her.  When Abigail opens her mouth in this story, the tone shifts from dark to light.  She understands the power of humility, because behind that humility is the power of God.  Only when we allow the grace of God to shift our eyes off our own kingdoms and onto the real kingdom can true humility begin to grow.”

Max also adds, “to discover grace is to discover God’s utter devotion to you, his stubborn resolve to give you a cleansing, healing, purging love that lifts the wounded back to their feet. Does he stand high on a hill and bid you climb out of the valley? No. He bungees down and carries you out. Does he build a bridge and command you to cross it? No. He crosses the bridge and shoulders you over. “You did not save yourselves; it was a gift from God” (Ephesians 2: 8 NCV). The story of Abigail and David shows us that when we allow God’s grace to seep into the crusty cracks of our lives, it softens hearts and changes lives. So let God’s grace bubble to the surface of your heart like a spring in the Sahara—in words of kindness and deeds of generosity. As you do, you will find that it changes not only other lives but your life as well.”

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