Reflections on Scripture

by Wayne Bandy

Get Adobe Flash player

Find Reflection with Scripture Search

Old Testament     New Testament     Chapter   

Scripture Passage

      Psalm - Chapter 120 (Contemporary English Version)
    1. (A song for worship.) When I am in trouble, I pray,
    2. "Come and save me, LORD, from deceitful liars!"
    3. What punishment is fitting for you deceitful liars?
    4. Your reward should be sharp and flaming arrows!
    5. But I must live as a foreigner among the people of Meshech and in the tents of Kedar.
    6. I have spent too much time living among people who hate peace.
    7. I am in favor of peace, but when I speak of it, all they want is war.

Psalms - Chapter 120

Entered: April 05, 2009
Slander is the topic of this 120th Psalm. The psalmist was under attack by a slanderer and sought the Lord's help. He was apparently greatly distressed by the attacks, as any of us who has ever been attack by slander could understand. He asks the Lord to deliver him and then suggests that the Lord might strike the attacker with sharp arrows and cauterize his tongue with burning charcoal, which seems a fitting remedy. In the concluding verses the psalmist bemoans that he has stayed so long among the tribes of Meshech and Kedar who were known as an uncivilized and cruel people. While he sought peace, they hated it, wanting war instead. It may have been due to this difference that these people fought him with slander.

Slander is a particularly malicious practice which has potential to destroy a person's reputation, even causing them to lose their livelihood. Yet there is often little defense against it regardless of the source or the accusation. No matter what evidence is presented against the slander, public opinion often retains doubt about the person. Once the seed of slander is planted its roots are difficult to irradicate. Not only is slander malicious because of the damage it can do and because there is little defense against it, it is malicious because the victim is always innocent. By definition that is the very nature of slander. It is, "words falsely spoken that damage the reputation of another." The sin of slander is strongly spoken against in the New Testament. Christians are not to be guilty of this sin. We might unthinkingly slip into gossip, for instance, but cannot unthinkingly slip into slander. It involves forethought and intent. It requires planning to determine the accusation and give a modicum of truth to the charge.

Reputation is the target of slander making those of good reputation most susceptible to attack, and those of low reputation invulnerable. This weapon carries little or no threat to them. These realities add to the maliciousness of this practice. It is a sin that should not cross the mind of a Christian to be used against another, and if the Christian finds himself/herself a victim of attack, the primary resort is to do as this psalmist and turn to the Lord for help. He can help better than anything else we could attempt.

Entered: May 27, 2014

The psalmist was up against an enemy whose weapon was slander. It is an effective weapon against which there is little defense. Like an arrow that has been shot from a bow, once it leaves the bow there is little means of stopping it from striking its target. Those who do not know or do not like the one slandered are quick to accept it, and for those who are his or her friends doubts are raised.

What options do the one slandered have for their defense? Retaliation is likely the first to come to mind, but though it may hurt the offender, it does little to remove the harm done. The psalmist chose the best option by turning to the Lord, asking Him to "deliver me from lying lips and a deceitful tongue." (120:2) How will the Lord deal with the deceitful tongue? The psalmist tells us that He will send to the offender "A warrior's sharp arrows, with burning charcoal!" (120:4) What does this do for the offended? Besides providing retaliation on his behalf, it discredits the offender. He is harmed without the one he offended lifting a hand against him. It must be at God's hand.

The psalm closes with the psalmist's lament of his enforced stay among the tribes of Mesheck and Kedar who were noted as savage and uncivilized people. While he spoke of peace, they spoke of war as if they enjoyed inflicting pain on others. But the Lord obviously delivered him from this experience and he lived to write the psalm.