Friday, December 7, 2018

The Mouth of the Righteous

Remarks given at a prayer service for the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh.

The mouth of the righteous
is a fountain of life,
but the mouth of the wicked
conceals violence. (Proverbs 10:11)
Hebrew poetry, especially in the Book of Proverbs, is quite fond of parallels.  In Proverbs, the mouth of the righteous is many things, good things.  Here, it is a fountain of life, and there are three others – the teaching of the wise; revering the Lord; and big-W Wisdom.
I wondered what the mouth of righteousness as a fountain of life might be like and I finally settled on it being the sound of our daughter’s voice when she sings.  Elsewhere in Proverbs (10:20), “the tongue of the righteous is choice silver,” which reminds me of her voice when she merely speaks.
But the mouth of the wicked…
That could be anything from a sinister whisper to an uncontrolled bellow.  What unthinking and unexpected violence do the wicked unleash when they merely speak?
Words are powerful; we know this from reading Scripture.  But they can also be hurtful; and when they are used to conceal the violence behind them, they can kill, provoking a moment of anger that cannot ever be taken back once released. 
The mouth of the wicked speaks to the weak, the flawed, the damaged but not broken, whose actions then reveal the violence.  We gather to pray for their victims, but pray also for them, that someday they may ask for forgiveness, from our Creator God in heaven and from those whose lives they have destroyed.
I know the Lord forgives and pours out grace upon grace on us all.  I pray that God’s loving grace can remove our demons and heal all wounds and comfort the grieving.  And I remember the words of Ecclesiastes, who said:
For God will bring every deed into judgement, including every secret thing, whether good or evil. (Ecclesiastes 12:14)