THE TRIPLE FENCE

An Extraordinary Benefit To Having My Jaw Wired Shut

One week down. Two to go. Robojaw 2 left me Meatless in Miami–a major upside to the whole jaw-wired-shut deal recorded in that post. Today another half-glass-full look at things from Revheff Smoothie Town.

Zipped mouth

It came to me during my morning reading in the Scriptures. Psalm 141:3 stopped me cold:

Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!

King David prays. His sense of urgency in approaching I AM is palpable in the first two verses. Need drives him. Concern grips him. Several items make up his list of petitions.

Note the starting place. Of all the things I’ve ever prayed for to get help, I don’t think this particular issue ever made priority one: post a sentry over my speech. The Hebrew word for “guard” is closely related to the cognate “eyelid.”

David asks the Lord to keep a close eye on the gate separating his tongue from communication with others. Essentially he asks God to exercise great care over that strategic location.

Puritan Thomas Watson made this observation about how God has provided for this very protection by the wonders of creation:

God has given us two ears, but one tongue, to show that we should be swift to hear, but slow to speak. God has set a double fence before the tongue, the teeth and the lips, to teach us to be wary that we offend not with our tongue.

A double fence. What a word picture! For me He has ordained an additional barrier–a wired shut jaw. Amazing the economy of words one settles for when speaking so as to be understood requires so much effort at articulation.

The triple fencing of my tongue has led to three insights as to why we would all do well to take our cue from David and regularly pray the same prayer.

One, no one can tame the tongue in his/her own strength. James 5:8 settles this issue: But no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. Think of your tongue as a venomous viper ready to strike at the slightest provocation. Only one handler can tame it, but we must ask for His help.

Two, prayer on this score can spare us a world of difficulty. Prov. 21:23 advises: Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble. I shudder to think how often ill advised words have gotten me into hot water. I posted about this quite recently here. James gets even more vivid with metaphors on this score in James 3:5-6.

So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.

That which has the power of life and death at its command needs all the fencing it can get (Prov. 18:21).

Three, fenced tongues matter greatly to a church’s peace. Among the things God hates we find these in Prov. 6:19: a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers. Few things disrupt unity in God’s church like runaway tongues.

May we follow the example of the One who when reviled opened not His mouth (Isa. 53:7).

That starts by making the tongue a high priority matter in our praying.

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