Death, Life, and the Power of the Tongue: 6 Verses on Speech
When Balaam set out to curse the Israelites, he had no idea what was in store. Not only did he encounter a talking donkey (say what?)–He came up against the incredible faithfulness of God to the Jews. How did all this happen? And what does this story have to teach us?
Balak, the king of Moab, was terrified of the nation of Israel. He knew he had no chance to defeat them. So he called upon Balaam, a sorcerer, to curse them, hoping his plan will lead to victory. Fortunately, what God intends to bless, no man can curse. Not even a king.
Balaam hops on his donkey and heads on his journey, ready to stand up against anyone who might make Moab look bad. En route, however, his donkey goes off the road, having seen an angel of the Lord. This is where things get even wilder. When Balaam beats his donkey for walking off the path, the donkey literally speaks up, asking why she’s being beaten. Finally, Balaam sees the angel, who tells the Lord will not allow him to curse the Jews.
To make a long (and fascinating) story short, every time Balaam tries to verbally curse the people of Israel, only words of blessing come out–much to Balak’s chagrin. Balaam ends up speaking beautiful blessings over God’s children three times and realizing that God’s desire to bless His people overshadows any attempts to curse them.
Scripture is clear that our words have power– the power to bless, give life, build-up, but also the power to tear down, defile, and bring death. God’s desire is that we would use our tongues to speak out His Word, to align with His purposes. When we speak out His will over ourselves, someone else, or a situation, we agree with His plan and activate His power in our lives.
Here are 6 empowering Bible verses you can study and meditate on about the power of the tongue.
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. – Ephesians 4:29
It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person. – Matthew 15:11
Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits. -Proverbs 18:21
There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. 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. -James 3:3-6
So faith comes from hearing and hearing through the word of Christ. -Romans 10:17