The text for this lesson is 1 Samuel 18:1–5; 19:1–7
- God commands that we speak well of others. As Jonathan defended David before his father, King Saul, so Jesus defends us before our heavenly Father, covering those who believe in Him with His robe of righteousness.
- Law: God wants me to speak well of my neighbor and defend him just as Jonathan spoke well of David and tried to protect him from Saul’s anger. Because of my sinfulness, I often fail to do this.
- Gospel: Jesus always spoke the truth, even when doing so created inconvenience and danger in His life. He blessed people with the Good News of the kingdom of God, cast out demons with His powerful word, and having suffered and died for my sins, now advocates on my behalf in heaven.
- Israel experienced trouble after settling in Canaan, the land promised to them through Abraham. Disobeying God’s instructions, the armies of Israel neglected to eradicate the tribes of Canaan entirely, and the people adopted the false religions and gods of their vanquished enemies. This led to a cycle that lasted over three hundred years: Israel sinned, God sent a judge to correct and restore them, Israel enjoyed prosperity, and Israel sinned again. Finally, the people of Israel asked for a king. Disapproving, God granted their request in Saul. Then a young shepherd boy from Bethlehem enjoyed victory over the Philistine giant, Goliath, by the power of God. King Saul, threatened by David’s success and popularity, turned from the Lord. Fearful of Saul’s aggression, David fled for his life and hid.
God gave His created human beings the gift of speech in order that they would praise their Maker, bless others with words of encouragement and love, and enjoy conversation, singing, and the like. As we have with so many of God’s gifts, we sinners have managed to pervert speech into a tool for evil. Words can be incredibly destructive. Our daily misery and lack of peace is due in great part to negative talk inside our minds and our failure to hear God’s absolving Word and promise. We mentally cut ourselves down, rehearse hurtful encounters, and repeat cutting remarks others have inflicted upon us. We fail to turn to God with words of repentance and hear His words of grace. Words are often at the heart of interpersonal conflict and broken relationships. The world is full of conflicts that have their roots in a sharp tone, sarcastic remark, or unfair criticism. Family members become estranged and marriages end in divorce due in part to abusive language and malicious speech. Self-esteem and reputations are destroyed as a result of gossip, lies, secret meetings, and false accusations.
In the Eighth Commandment, God not only forbids sinful speech but also demands that we use His gift of speech to edify, encourage, and bless. If someone has erred, we are to establish the truth before making any accusations. If admonition is needed, we do so only with those who must hear it, sharing only the truth and expressing it in the most constructive manner possible.
Only One has ever done this without flaw. That is Jesus Christ. Jesus always used His words in obedience to the Father and for our benefit. From the moment He was able to speak, the child Jesus used His words in a manner that pleased His Father in heaven. He always spoke respectfully to His earthly parents. Even when He corrected the Pharisees, elders, and teachers of the law, Jesus did so in a manner that served His goal: to correct and lead to repentance, never to injure. Jesus also spoke of His coming work of redemption on the cross and the salvation He would bring through His death and resurrection. Even as He died on the Roman instrument of torture and death, Jesus spoke a prayer of forgiveness to His Father in heaven on behalf of those who were crucifying Him. Descended into hell, Jesus proclaimed victory over the devil and all his angels. And now, seated at the right hand of the Father, Jesus continues to plead for us with His heavenly Father.