The Strife of Tongues

By John Thiel

To provoke worship of our heavenly father, we consider Psalms.  Consider the person who wrote this Psalm.  You know all about him don’t you?  Notice what he says as he contemplates his Lord and Father in Heaven:


Psalm 31:19 [Oh] how great [is] thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; [which] thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men!

What was David so happy about?

Psalms 31:20 Thou shalt hide them in the secret of thy presence from the pride of man: thou shalt keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues.

Does anybody have to say that to God but David?  What is meant with the strife of tongues?  What does he mean?  What is he talking about that God is so wonderful in his life that God hides and protects him in a pavilion of the strife of tongues?

Psalms 31:9 Have mercy upon me, O LORD, for I am in trouble: mine eye is consumed with grief, [yea], my soul and my belly.

Have you ever been in deep grief or sorrow where you think I can’t live anymore where your belly melts inside of you?  Why? He is in trouble.  About what?

Psalms 31:10 For my life is spent with grief, and my years with sighing: my strength faileth because of mine iniquity, and my bones are consumed.

He doesn’t use the word sin or transgression.  He uses the word iniquity and that word is the extreme evil of sin.  He is conscious of the iniquity in his life, much more than simple transgression or sin.   It is an iniquitous activity that he has engaged in and now he is grief stricken and says Lord, I am in trouble.  Do you know what that experience is?

Psalms 31:11 I was a reproach among all mine enemies, but especially among my neighbours, and a fear to mine acquaintance: they that did see me without fled from me.`

When someone is engaged in iniquity, what do his acquaintances and his friends do?  I want to get away from you.

Psalms 31:12 I am forgotten as a dead man out of mind: I am like a broken vessel.

31:13 For I have heard the slander of many: fear [was] on every side: while they took counsel together against me, they devised to take away my life.

This is the person who wrote this Psalm.  In verse 16 he speaks to God.  Instead of running away he says;

Psalms 31:16 Make thy face to shine upon thy servant: save me for thy mercies’ sake. 17 Let me not be ashamed, O LORD; for I have called upon thee: let the wicked be ashamed, [and] let them be silent in the grave. 18 Let the lying lips be put to silence; which speak grievous things proudly and contemptuously against the righteous.

Here is a strange statement. Was David righteous? He had done iniquity and yet he said thy servant and the righteous.  Let the wicked be ashamed not me.  Why?  Because I’m calling upon you.  I’m throwing myself on your mercy, the multitude of your mercies, save me.  Can you see a difference here between the wicked and a person who’s done iniquity and yet a servant of God?  Can you identify those words?  That being the consideration and his words he says;

Psalms 31:19 [Oh] how great [is] thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; [which] thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men! 20 Thou shalt hide them in the secret of thy presence from the pride of man: thou shalt keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues.

Who are they?  People like David.  Can you see what the strife of tongues is now?

Psalms 31:13 For I have heard the slander of many: fear [was] on every side: while they took counsel together against me, they devised to take away my life.

They talk together about me.  I have heard what they say and I’m in trouble.  Slander and the strife of tongues and the counselling about the sins I’ve committed are so heavy upon me Lord help me, I am in trouble.  David has experienced how the Lord accepts him.  He has experienced how his repentance has been received and how the Lord hides him away from the strife of tongues.

Psalms 31:18 Let the lying lips be put to silence; which speak grievous things proudly and contemptuously against the righteous.

When you come to Jesus in all your sinfulness and you pour your heart out in true repentance, what do you become?  When you really come to him like that, he takes your place and you are as if you have never sinned. So what are you then?  Righteous.  That is the person whom God protects in secret from the strife of tongues clearly in reference to iniquity which the Psalmist himself was guilty of.

Psalms 31:9 Have mercy upon me, O LORD, for I am in trouble: mine eye is consumed with grief, [yea], my soul and my belly. 10 For my life is spent with grief, and my years with sighing: my strength faileth because of mine iniquity, and my bones are consumed.

Therefore reproach has come upon me not only from my enemies but by my neighbours.

Psalm 41:5 Mine enemies speak evil of me, When shall he die, and his name perish?

Let’s get rid of him we want him out of the way.

Psalms 41:6 And if he come to see [me], he speaketh vanity: his heart gathereth iniquity to itself; [when] he goeth abroad, he telleth [it]. 7 All that hate me whisper together against me: against me do they devise my hurt. 8 An evil disease, [say they], cleaveth fast unto him: and [now] that he lieth he shall rise up no more.

What’s their talk?  He is a sick sinner, he has an evil disease upon him, and careful you will get infected.  He is bound he will not rise again.

Psalms 41:9 Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up [his] heel against me.

Who?  Not only my enemies but my familiar friends.  Isn’t that what happens when a person has done iniquity even a friend turns against him?

Friends, Neighbours and Enemies

If you have a friend like that, who wants to have enemies?  He is crying to God again.

Psalms 71:9 Cast me not off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength faileth. 10 For mine enemies speak against me; and they that lay wait for my soul take counsel together, 11 Saying, God hath forsaken him: persecute and take him; for [there is] none to deliver [him].

He is iniquitous, he is a sinner and they counsel together.

Psalms 71:12 O God, be not far from me: O my God, make haste for my help.

A person who has committed iniquity and who is bewildered by the slander and the strife of tongues cries to God.

Psalms 55:12 For [it was] not an enemy [that] reproached me; then I could have borne [it]: neither [was it] he that hated me [that] did magnify [himself] against me; then I would have hid myself from him: 13 But [it was] thou, a man mine equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance. 14 We took sweet counsel together, [and] walked unto the house of God in company.

This is the person who praised the Lord and said he hideth them in the pavilion from the strife of tongues.

Did David Provoke Gossip?

Did David not commit iniquity to provoke gossip?  Didn’t he? Oh yes, he did. He provoked slander and reproach. He is speaking like this in the Psalms but although he provoked slander, reproach and the strife of tongues, what did he do when he was convinced of sin? As for me, they are all talking about me, they are really ransacking me, but as for me, what am I going to do?

Psalms 55:16 As for me, I will call upon God; and the LORD shall save me. 17 Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.

That is what he was doing while the other ones were entering into counsel and condemnation against him.  Here is the true hearted Psalmist that had committed terrible iniquity.

Psalms 51:1 Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin [is] ever before me.

Isn’t that a reality when a person has done some grievous sins?  That reality is always there

Psalms 51:4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done [this] evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, [and] be clear when thou judgest.

He doesn’t excuse himself, he simply says I have really done your name damage.  What was this Psalm a reference to?  This is the Psalm of David the prophet when Nathan the prophet came unto him after he had gone to Bathsheba.  This was iniquity to the fullest degree.  Not only did he commit adultery but he murdered.  He has done this enormous iniquity and he pleads with the Lord like that. What is written in reference to God’s wonderful care in reference to this?

Psalms 51:15 O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall show forth thy praise. 16 For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give [it]: thou delightest not in burnt offering. 17 The sacrifices of God [are] a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

The Psalmist expresses his knowledge of God.  God I’m going to throw myself into your arms, I’m broken and contrite and I’m not even going to offer an animal for sacrifice because you don’t want that.  What do you really want?  A broken and a contrite heart.  I’m casting myself at your mercy and God will not despise this.  He knew it.

Psalms 51:9 Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. 11 Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. 12 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me [with thy] free spirit.

He is totally acknowledging his absolute iniquity and he is throwing himself at the mercy of God.  Then he says Lord I need to be renewed in heart, I need to get clean in heart that has caused me to do these things.  I desire to continue with you.

Psalms 51:13 [Then] will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.

It is to such a person and people that Psalms 31:20 applies to.  The one who desires the mercy and glory of God that he may be able to show among the people God’s wonderful glory.  What does the first angel’s message say?  Fear God and give him the glory.  It is the person who wants to do that and is committed to that although he falls into iniquity and says I’ve fallen into dire trouble, I’ve sinned against you and I didn’t want to, but he pleads with God.  This is the principle of whom God will hide from the pride of man whom God will tuck away in his pavilion from the strife of tongues.  They have something to talk about alright but as they do, what are they doing?

Lying Tongues

They said he was iniquitous. Weren’t they right?  You can be right, but you can be all wrong.  In Gods kingdom you can be so right and you can be totally wrong lying all the time.  Because you and I don’t know what that sinner is doing in regards to his relationship with God.  We might be dissecting another person’s character as he is doing something very wicked.  He is doing this and that and the talk goes on and on the slander of tongues.  As they talk they are lying because they don’t know the truth.  They don’t know the real issues relevant to that situation and so they are lying tongues.

What does this person who God protects because he is truly repentant protect them from?  What does this person want?  That I may go and share with the sinners around me the goodness and mercy of God. How can you assist sinners when they gossip about your sin?  How can you assist?  Is there anyone here who hasn’t sinned something badly in the past?  If they knew all of your sins, would they listen to you?  The person who is truly committed to the Lord in total confession and repentance is the person whom God hides so no one else knows the reality of the iniquity.  He hides them in his pavilion.  They can go out and proclaim Gods wonderful mercy to sinners out there.

This person knows so well the weakness of the human nature.  They have got no Pharisaical understanding about themselves at all. They have their sin ever before them and they know full when the meet another sinner, you poor soul I know exactly how you feel can I help you? There comes a helpless sinner who is craving for answers as a sinner knows they can’t see out of their problem. They don’t know where to go, they go nearly insane and they cover themselves with all sorts of things as a facade I’m alright thank you very much but inside they are hurting with deep guilt.  When someone comes to them who knows them and imparts to them the living healing rays of God in their life, won’t they be benefited?  Won’t they be healed and trust in the God who forgives sins? These are the people whom God will protect from the strife of tongues. The Spirit of Prophecy tells us that we have to be very careful not to expose my sins to the sinners that we are trying to help.

Confess your secret sins alone before your God.  {5T 649.1}

Just as David did.  That sin was not fully known by the people around.  It was well covered. There were only a few people that knew it.  There was the General of the Army, Bathsheba and then Nathan came along and said you are the man.  That is the other man who knew.  David didn’t go to the other people and said I’ve done this but we read it today.  At that time he didn’t show them.  It was for the next generations that it was written for.

The Explanation

I have been shown that many, many confessions should never be spoken in the hearing of mortals; for the result is that which the limited judgment of finite beings does not anticipate. Seeds of evil are scattered in the minds and hearts of those who hear, and when they are under temptation, these seeds will spring up and bear fruit, and the same sad experience will be repeated. For, think the tempted ones, these sins cannot be so very grievous; for did not those who have made confession, Christians of long standing, do these very things? Thus the open confession in the church of these secret sins will prove a savor of death rather than of life.  {5T 645.2}

Read the entire chapter. Its entitled erroneous ideas of confession.  God can use David’s and people like Saul who became Paul and if their evil deeds were scattered abroad in the generation in which they lived, do you think it would impact that generation of people who know them so well? Oh, I’ve had him in high esteem and he’s done this and that and he can still be saved?  Well that gives me a chance to go and do those things and I might be saved still too.  People like that are hidden from the strife of tongues by the Lord.  It is these sins that are confessed before God as David did that are contained in Psalms 31:20. Why do I or you or anyone have to confess to anyone else your secret sins?  Why should you?  It is not in God’s plan, it never is.


Don’t become like the Catholic Church to go along to the priest and confess the detail of your sins. That is not what God’s way is. We know so well what corruptions came out of the confession box that then the priests knew exactly what people did who then worked behind the scenes to develop all sorts of horrible things in the dark ages that you can study today.  This is evil, this is not God’s way.  You cannot help sinners by confessing your secret sins.  No way.  God will not expose the sins of his servants who love and depend on him.  God will not do that, so why should you?

Dealing With the Sins of Humanity

How do we deal with one another in reference to this subject?  Recall what David said, my friend, the one I went I went to church with, you have become my worst enemy.  You who are members of Gods church, you have cast me off.  That’s a hard one.  What are God’s children to do when they in the church meet iniquity with each other?  What are they to do?  They are to do the same thing as Nathan did.  Did Nathan enter into the slander and the strife of tongues?  You saw how he handled David. He gave him a tactful object lesson and carefully not to hurt David, he showed him after David exercised his mind, this big rich man with all the sheep who had stolen the sheep of a poor man who only had one sheep.  David said that is wicked, he deserves to go along and be destroyed.  Nathan said, you are that man. He was permitted to discover his own sin and Nathan kept it between him and God. That is the way he did it. That is the way Gods people do it.  Nothing else.

Proverbs 10:11 The mouth of a righteous [man is] a well of life: but violence covereth the mouth of the wicked. 12 Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.

Does love cover sins that will not be confessed?  Does love cover the sins that people are wickedly doing and do not repent of and do not give their heart to the Lord on?  No way.  The love that exists in Gods church and among one another and in the hearts of sinners because they love God as David did, those are covered by love as Nathan did.  He only showed it to the one person and that was it.

Proverbs 17:9 He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth [very] friends.

My very friends turned against me he said.  But it wasn’t in regards to Bathseba, he had done a lot of things in the past poor David, and he had those kinds of experiences.  If you are a real friend as Nathan was, you don’t scatter the info. You just come to that person and you let them deal with it and you step back as Nathan did.  This is now the approach to how God wants his people to follow his way.  In Gods church we seek to assist each other to deal with our sins by refusing to enter into the strife of tongues.  That is what happens in Gods true church.  Gods true church and true ministry does not expose the sins of individuals in the church.  Gods true minsters seek to work to restore the sinner that they know has sinned because it was pointed out to them by the Lord.

Anyone of us that has knowledge of a person’s guilty sins and that person may not know they are really falling, we must indeed come like Nathan to them but with the same attitude as Nathan and God.  Do you want to be a gospel worker in the church as a member of Gods church?  Here is the way.

Anything that would encourage ungenerous criticism, a disposition to notice and expose every defect or error, is wrong. It fosters distrust and suspicion, which are contrary to the character of Christ, and detrimental to the mind thus exercised..  {GW 334.1}

What is the exposing of another person’s errors and sins?  It fosters distrust and suspicion and this is contrary to the character of Christ.  Are you part of Christ?  Then here is our counsel.  Who is this mind is detrimental to?  The person who actually exposes the error and the sin. That persons own mind is destroyed by doing so.

Those who are engaged in this work, gradually depart from the true spirit of Christianity.  {GW 334.1}

Isn’t that what the Pharisees did?  They were expositors of the law.  They taught the truth of the law and then they scrutinised the people.  What did they then do?  They all lost the right spirit of Christ and they crucified him as well because it had an effect on their own mind.  They gradually departed from the true spirit of Christianity.  This is what every Christian will do if they enter into the strife of tongues.  It will destroy their own spiritually.

Think No Evil of Anyone

The most essential, enduring education is that which will develop the nobler qualities, which will encourage a spirit of universal kindliness, leading the youth (EVERYBODY) to think no evil of any one, lest they misjudge motives and misinterpret words and actions. {GW 334.2}

What is the education that we need to engage in as a church?  THINK NO EVIL OF ANYONE.  How clearly do we want of it?  Let alone talk of it.  Lest they misjudge motives and misinterpret words. This is why they become lying lips because they are looking at a thing and they are thinking oh and begin to become suspicious.  Look what happened here and there and they think oh that is evil.  They will then misjudge words and actions. They become lying lips. What are we to be educated in?  Kindliness, think no evil of anyone.

The time devoted to this kind of instruction will yield fruit to everlasting life.   {GW 334.2}

What is Gods church involved in?  It is involved in giving instruction of thinking evil of no body to not misjudge or criticise anyone or anything you see.  If you are afraid something is leading somewhere, you don’t go to the person and say you are doing this, you put God’s Word in front of them and let them find their way through God’s Word.  They are all intelligent enough to know here is God’s Word identifying something for me. The kind of careful work is to enter not into the strife of tongues.

The Nasty Little Streak

There will be plenty of people out there who enter into the strife of tongues but Gods people do not. If you are a natural human being with a natural fleshy nature, I don’t know if you are like me, if there is a juicy story going on, you think, oh and you pick up juicy bits and you think that is a real serious thing happening in our church, you are fulfilling the natural trait of the flesh.  It will come to you, you will be tested as we all have our sinful flesh. It is a hard thing and we have a nasty streak in our human nature.  When we talk about the nature of the spirit and the flesh this is one of the battles we will have to fight in God’s church.

There is in humanity a tendency to suspicious imagining, which circumstances quicken into lively growth.  {FLB 140.4}

There is in our nature a tendency.  We speak about tendency and propensities to sin that people keep saying weren’t in the flesh of Jesus Christ?  There is in our flesh in our humanity, a tendency to suspicion and imaginings which circumstances quicken lively grow That particular characteristic of the flesh is ever watching. Oh I saw someone doing such and such and oh, there is  suspicion and you then watch for the next circumstance and you say look at that.

This is how we enter into the strife of tongues. That is exercising what?  Our sinful flesh.  That is exercising sinful flesh and we will lose the spirit of Christianity if we exercise that.  That is the Word of God. We have a contrast.  We have the exercise of the true God.  His exercise is to receive the confessions and repentance of his servants who are all sinners.  What does it say in Romans?

Romans 3:10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:

How about waking up to that?  How can we enter into the strife of tongues when we know we all have things behind us and we have been graciously dealt with that we can even be in God’s church in the first place?  There is none righteous no not one.  Every member in this church has sins which God has revealing to us but is he is hiding from others.  God is trying so hard to hide our sins while he is trying to lead us to repentance.  What are you going to do?  Are you going to try and penetrate and reveal it when God is trying so hard to hide it?

What a character our God is.  He is trying to protect the repentant sinner from the strife of tongues.  If God is doing that for us then our joy and fellowship will continue if we do the same for one another. May this study add importance to this kind of church fellowship so that in this church, the joy and the love that Jesus has prayed for will continue to germinate and every evil trait and tendency of our sinful flesh will be studiously repressed including the strife of tongues.


Further reading:

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Posted on 28/06/2010, in Divine Service Sermons, Gossip and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Pastor E.G. Du Plessis

    Now I think you are getting to a point where God wants you to be. The majority of the articles coming from Sabbath Sermons are caustic against ministers in the church, and the church itself as a whole. While they are bashing them, they forget to put the full armor on, especially their feet which is to spread the Gospel. They are under the impression that it is a mental thing only, providing juicy news about the church’s wrongdoing. Are they also engaged in benevolent work: feeding, clothing and empowering the needy. Christ will say “I was in prison…”. Unless they take care of their feet, it will become sick (gangrene of the soul) and will succumb with the rest of the unsaved.

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