Read: Proverbs 18:21; 1 Samuel 25:2-35
Mocking and lashing out. It seems to be the order of the day. I know that harsh and cutting words have always been prevalent. If it were not so, the scriptures would not say that man's speech is like an open grave, dripping venom and prone to cursing and bitterness, Romans 3:13-14. It is true that those kinds of words do not fall from everyone's lips; however, even though we have the sweet restraining power of the Holy Spirit, we sometimes find ourselves speaking in an abrasive and careless way, Proverbs 12:18; Proverbs 16:27.
No wonder James challenges us in James 3:5-12 concerning the fact that our speech can easily change from being like sweet and refreshing water, only to morph into words that can't quench anyone's thirst. Even so, as we lean on the Lord and listen to His promptings, we can be like Abigail and La Vonda, speaking words that soothe and comfort others, Proverbs 16:24. Though the lives of these two women were separated by approximately three thousand years, the grace they dispensed through their words is timeless. Let's take a look at what a difference these two women made with their words that spoke life rather than death. One lady might be familiar to you, like an old friend, and the other most likely will be new to you.
Abigail, her words restrained David's fury. The man whom Samuel the prophet had anointed as the king-elect was still on the run. It had been years since that day when the oil was poured over David's head; years of Saul's relentless pursuing. As we begin reading in 1 Samuel 25, we learn that Samuel the prophet had died. David and his men have been surviving in the wilderness by helping tend Nabal's sheep, and it was time for the customary remuneration. And what did David's men receive? Not food and wool. No, they received insulting words and nothing else at all. David's reaction? He lost it, and all the men in Abigail's family were in danger of death. David was ready to pay them all back for his mistreatment. Abigail, the beautiful and sensible woman that she was came quickly to the rescue, bringing food and words of life, Proverbs 18:21. She reminded David that he had been called by God. He had God's promises that would be fulfilled, and she reiterated the truth that the king-elect was safely kept in the bundle of the Lord. I love how she boldly, yet humbly, challenged David. She reminded him that he wouldn't want to shed blood needlessly. No, he wouldn't want to become king with that stain upon his life. Talk about the right words at the appropriate time, Proverbs 25:11-12. The best part? David chose to take in Abigail's words, and he changed his mind concerning what he had planned to do.
La Vonda, her words lifted up the spirit of a weary child. The child's name was Johnny Cash. He lived with a sweet mother and a father who spoke cruel words to him. When Johnny's brother Jack was killed in a tragic accident, his father told Johnny that the wrong son had died. Words like that were a part of the singer's life, but there were other words. Praise the Lord for Le Vonda Mae Fielder and Johnny's mother who spoke words of life to him. One day when Johnny was young, he went with his sister and mother across the street to take a private voice lesson from Ms. Fielder. Upon hearing him, she told him to stop. He thought he was no good, but La Vonda said that he had a gift from God and that he should always sing "his way". When Cash was 16, his mother heard him sing. His tenor voice had changed into a rich baritone. Oh, how he sounded like her father, and she told him that God had His hand upon him, and that he shouldn't forget the gift. Those words lifted him up and gave him hope. He was able to believe that his life had purpose after all.
Once again, an example of the right words at the right time and a person who received them. Truth when received can truly change a life. Both David and Johnny Cash received blessings because they chose to reject words of death and instead, believed words that brought them life. If La Vonda and Abigail meet in heaven, they will be able to share the joy of knowing that God used each of them to encourage a weary one to trust Him and His plan.
What about us? We also have a choice. Will we choose to believe what God says about us, or will we let man's opinion trump God's promises? What about our words to others? With God's enabling, we can speak like Abigail and La Vonda. We can remind others of God's promises, God's gifting and God's power. What an antidote for the harsh words that we hear all around us.