Psalm 34:13
Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile.
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Psalm 34:13-14. Keep thy tongue from evil — From all manner of evil speaking, from all injurious, false, and deceitful speeches; and thy lips from speaking guile — Or, guileful words, contrary to truth and sincerity, and the real thoughts and intentions of thy heart, and used with a purpose of deceiving others by them. Depart from evil — From all sin, and especially from all wicked, and injurious acts and practices against thy neighbour. And do good — Be ready to perform all good and friendly offices to all men, as thou hast opportunity. Seek peace — Study, by all possible means, to live peaceably and quietly with all men, avoiding grudges, debates, dissensions, strifes, and enmities; and pursue it — Do not only embrace it gladly, when it is offered, but follow hard after it, when it seems to flee away from thee, and use all possible endeavours by fair and kind words, by condescensions, and by the mediation or assistance of others to recover it, and to compose all differences, which may arise between thee and others.

34:11-22 Let young persons set out in life with learning the fear of the Lord, if they desire true comfort here, and eternal happiness hereafter. Those will be most happy who begin the soonest to serve so good a Master. All aim to be happy. Surely this must look further than the present world; for man's life on earth consists but of few days, and those full of trouble. What man is he that would see the good of that where all bliss is perfect? Alas! few have this good in their thoughts. That religion promises best which creates watchfulness over the heart and over the tongue. It is not enough not to do hurt, we must study to be useful, and to live to some purpose; we must seek peace and pursue it; be willing to deny ourselves a great deal for peace' sake. It is the constant practice of real believers, when in distress, to cry unto God, and it is their constant comfort that he hears them. The righteous are humbled for sin, and are low in their own eyes. Nothing is more needful to true godliness than a contrite heart, broken off from every self-confidence. In this soil every grace will flourish, and nothing can encourage such a one but the free, rich grace of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The righteous are taken under the special protection of the Lord, yet they have their share of crosses in this world, and there are those that hate them. Both from the mercy of Heaven, and the malice of hell, the afflictions of the righteous must be many. But whatever troubles befal them, shall not hurt their souls, for God keeps them from sinning in troubles. No man is desolate, but he whom God has forsaken.Keep thy tongue from evil - From speaking wrong things. Always give utterance to truth, and truth alone. The meaning is, that this is one of the methods of lengthening out life. To love the truth; to speak the truth; to avoid all falsehood, slander, and deceit, will contribute to this, or will be a means which will tend to prolong life, and to make it happy.

And thy lips from speaking guile - Deceit. Do not "deceive" others by your words. Do not make any statements which are not true, or any promises which you cannot and will not keep. Do not flatter others; and do not give utterance to slander. Be a man characterized by the love of truth: and let all your words convey truth, and truth only. It cannot be doubted that this, like all other virtues, would tend to lengthen life, and to make it prosperous and peaceful. There is no vice which does not tend to abridge human life, as there is no virtue which does not tend to lengthen it. But probably the specific idea here is, that the way to avoid the hostility of other people, and to secure their favor and friendship, is to deal with them truly, and thus to live in peace with them. It is true, also, that God will bless a life of virtue and uprightness, and though there is no absolute certainty that anyone, however virtuous he may be, may not be cut off in early life, yet it is also true that, other things being equal, a man of truth and integrity will be more likely to live long - (as he will be more certain to make the most of life) - than one who is false and corrupt.

13, 14. Sins of thought included in those of speech (Lu 6:45), avoiding evil and doing good in our relations to men are based on a right relation to God. From evil; from all manner of evil-speaking, from all opprobrious, injurious, false, and deceitful speeches; which, though men commonly use to ease and gratify their own minds, or to compass their designs, do frequently fall upon their own heads, by provoking both God and men against them.

Guile; or guileful words, contrary to thy intentions, and with a purpose of deceiving men by them.

Keep thy tongue from evil,.... This, and what follows in this verse and Psalm 34:14, point at the things wherein the fear of God shows itself; and suggest, that those who have it, and which is known by these fruits, shall enjoy the desirable and good days before mentioned. The tongue is an instrument of much evil, an unruly member, and needs restraint; and it is from evil, and not from good, it is to be kept; from evil speaking of God, from cursing and swearing; from evil speaking of men, reproaching and reviling them; from filthy speaking, from all obscene and unchaste words, and from all lying ones; for where such evil speaking is indulged, the fear of God cannot be in that man;

and thy lips from speaking guile; hypocritical and deceitful words, speaking with flattering lips and a double heart: some speak bad words in common conversation, through an evil habit and custom; and some speak good words with an ill design; and in neither of them is the fear of God before their eyes, nor in their hearts.

Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile.
13. Keep] Guard. Cp. Proverbs 13:3 (R.V.); Proverbs 21:23; Psalm 39:1; James 3:2 ff.

guile] Deceit. Cp. Psalm 35:20; Psalm 36:3.

Verse 13. - Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile. If the end be happiness, the means will be right moral conduct; and, first of all, right government of the tongue. Sins of the tongue are numerous, and abundantly noted in the Psalms (Psalm 5:9; Psalm 10:7; Psalm 12:3; Psalm 15:3; Psalm 50:19; Psalm 57:4; Psalm 73:8, 9, etc.). They are more difficult to avoid than any others; they cling closer to us; they are scarcely ever wholly laid aside. "If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body" (James 3:2). The meek Moses "spake unadvisedly with his lips" (Psalm 106:33). Job "darkened counsel by words without knowledge "(Job 38:2). St. Peter's words on one occasion drew upon him the rebuke, "Get thee behind me, Satan" (Matthew 16:23). Psalm 34:13(Heb.: 34:12-15) The first main division of the Psalm is ended; the second (much the same as in Psalm 32:1-11) assumes more the tone of a didactic poem; although even Psalm 34:6, Psalm 34:9 have something of the didactic style about them. The poet first of all gives a direction for fearing God. We may compare Psalm 32:8; Psalm 51:15 - how thoroughly Davidic is the turn which the Psalm here takes! בּנים are not children in years or in understanding; but it is a tender form of address of a master experienced in the ways of God to each one and to all, as in Proverbs 1:8, and frequently. In Psalm 34:13 he throws out the question, which he himself answers in Psalm 34:14. This form of giving impressiveness to a truth by setting it forth as a solution of some question that has been propounded is a habit with David. Psalm 14:1; Psalm 24:8, Psalm 24:10; Psalm 25:12. In the use made of this passage from the Psalms in 1 Peter 3:10-12 ( equals Psalm 34:13 of the Psalm) this form of the question is lost sight of. To חפץ חיּים, as being just as exclusive in sense, corresponds אהב ימים, so that consequently לראות is a definition of the purpose. ימים signifies days in the mass, just as חיּים means long-enduring life. We see from James 3:2., where Psalm 34:13 also, in its form, calls to mind the Psalm before us, why the poet gives the pre-eminence to the avoiding of sins of the tongue. In Psalm 34:15, from among what is good peace is made prominent, - peace, which not only are we not to disturb, but which we are to seek, yea, pursue it like as the hunter pursues the finest of the herds. Let us follow, says the apostle Paul also, Romans 14:19 (cf. Hebrews 12:14), after those things which make for peace. שׁלום is a relationship, harmonious and free from trouble, that is well-pleasing to the God of love. The idea of the bond of fellowship is connected with the corresponding word eiree'nee, according to its radical notion.
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