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Pastoral 2013

Wise Speech - Part I

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Pleasant Words

Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones” (Proverbs 16:24). The Hebrew word translated as “pleasant” (nō’am) occurs about seven times; and the King James Bible translated it as “beauty” four times, “pleasant” twice and “pleasantness” once. The root form of this word is even used to refer to the beauty of the LORD (cf. Psalm 27:4; 90:17a).

Here, pleasant words are compared to the sweet and healthy honeycomb. This comparison is meant to show us that pleasant words sweeten fellowship and restore troubled relationships.

Besides Proverbs 16:24, there are other passages in Proverbs that speak of pleasant words. Proverbs 16:21 says, “The wise in heart shall be called prudent: and the sweetness of the lips increaseth learning.” Sweet words, which are the result of prudence, promote instruction in the sense that they make learning desirable. There must be much forethought concerning the attitude and choice of words before one opens his mouth to speak. This is further emphasized in Proverbs 16:23 – “The heart of the wise teacheth his mouth, and addeth learning to his lips.” Prudence of heart is essential in developing pleasant speech.

Proverbs 27:9 also provides a similar instruction: “Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so doth the sweetness of a man’s friend by hearty counsel.” According to this verse, it is the “hearty counsel” that adds sweetness to one’s speech. But what is hearty counsel? It is sincere and passionate advice given without any hidden agenda or deceit.

This thought is repeated in Proverbs 15:4 which says, “A wholesome tongue is a tree of life.” The words “wholesome” (Proverbs 15:4) and “health” (Proverbs 16:24) are from the same Hebrew word (marpē’). A wholesome tongue is a healing tongue, i.e. a conciliatory or appeasing tongue. This is compared to a “tree of life”, an emblem of a blessed and meaningful life.

Soft Answer

Proverbs 15:1 regards “a soft answer” as wise speech because it “turneth away wrath”. The Hebrew word for “soft” (rak) appears about 16 times in the Old Testament; and it is translated by the King James Bible as “tender” (9 times), “soft” (3 times) and also “fainthearted”, “weak” and “tenderhearted”. In the context of this verse, it points to gentle, conciliatory words.

We must be careful to avoid provocative words at all times. Especially in tense situations, gentle and non-provocative words will help to calm those who are agitated and wrathful. So our words must be chosen with much self-control, forethought, love and patience. Words spoken in haste will aggravate a heated conversation even further. Speak to pacify – that is wise speech!

So Proverbs 25:15 says, “A soft tongue breaketh the bone.” It is yet another maxim that drives home the truth that gentle and amiable words will make tender those who have been most difficult and inflexible. A modern Greek proverb says, “The tongue has no bones, yet it breaks bones!”

Words of Kindness

Wise speech is always characterised by virtues like love, grace and kindness. Wise speech is not harsh, discourteous or rude.

Proverbs 22:11 provides instruction on the graciousness of wise speech – “He that loveth pureness of heart, for the grace of his lips the king shall be his friend.” The Hebrew word for “grace” (ḥēn) is often translated as “grace” and “favour”. So the phrase “grace of his lips” suggests gracious speech or expressions of kind and favourable words. This verse also tells us that a man who loves purity will be gracious.

Purity of heart and graciousness of speech make a man worthy of notice and reward from his king. Though many kings would care nothing about righteousness and graciousness, yet several of the Old Testament characters were promoted by their kings because of their purity and graciousness. Joseph (cf. Genesis 41:37-45), Daniel (Daniel 6:1-3, 28) and Ezra (Ezra 7:21-25) are truly examples of those who had lived out the instruction and promise of this verse. “Righteous lips are the delight of kings; and they love him that speaketh right” (Proverbs 16:13). If God, the King of kings, were to bring any promotion to us at all, He will be looking for purity and graciousness in our hearts, words and actions.

Concerning the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31, it is written that “in her tongue is the law of kindness” (Proverbs 31:26). “The law of kindness” is a very necessary rule for every tongue if the words it utters are to be wise.

 

 

 

Daily Vacation Bible School (DVBS) 2013 – Testimonies

 

Grace Ho: Although this year’s DVBS lasted for only 2 days, I thank God for a fruitful time at the Aloha Changi Cottage, thanks to all the efforts of many uncles and aunties from Pr Kelvin Lim & his GCM committee to the teachers, games organisers, and of course, the food coordinators and helpers! Thank God for the opportunity to learn 4 lessons concerning “Redeeming the Time”, namely “Remember Thy Creator” (Ecclesiastes 12:1), “Live Godly in an Ungodly World” (Ephesians 5:16), “Walk Carefully” (Psalm 1:1; 1 Corinthians 15:33) and “Delight in God’s Law” (Psalm 1:2-3).

Titus Ho: This year’s DVBS has been exceptionally memorable for me, not only because this is the last year of participation for me (I being in Primary 6), but also because of the wonderful teaching of God’s Word and the godly fellowship among my friends.

In particular, I like to mention two important lessons that I have learnt. The first is to redeem the time, especially in these “evil” days of widespread wickedness and immorality. The second is that I must mix with good company so as to learn their godly ways instead of being influenced by the evil ways of bad company. As the proverb goes, “Evil communications corrupt good manners”.

Last but not least, I would like to say a big thank you to all the uncles and aunties who had put in much effort to organise this year’s DVBS.