Guarding with Our Lips

If I’m picking up what the king is laying down, then, if you can articulate truth, truth can protect you. For, if you can guard it with your lips, it will guard you from her lips.

My son, be attentive to my wisdom; incline your ear to my understanding, that you may keep discretion, and your lips may guard knowledge. For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil . . .

(Proverbs 5:1-3 ESV)

The king’s been exhorting his son to pursue lady wisdom. To seek her as silver and gold. To esteem her more precious than jewels. To know that long life is in her right hand. Riches and honor, in her left. And the ways in which she leads are pleasant. Her paths bring peace. For she is a tree of life and holds the key to unlocking eternal blessing (Prov. 3:13-18). But she’s not the only one calling out, presenting a way of life.

There’s another woman, warns the king. Another voice, a seductive voice offering an alternative path, calling out, “Follow me.” While her words are sweet, and her invitation is alluring, her ways are destruction. Her paths lead only and always to utter ruin. She is a siren of sin.

And saying no to her honey-dripping lips is dependent on what your lips are able to guard.

That your lips may guard knowledge. The phrase struck me as kind of odd this morning. I don’t normally think of guarding something with my lips.

Very aware of the need to guard my lips and to protect them (Ps. 39:1, Ps. 141:3, James 1:26). But guarding knowledge with my lips? Hmmm. Had to chew on that for a bit.

The son is exhorted by his dad to be attentive to wisdom and incline his heart to understanding. In so doing, it will build muscle for discerning the difference between the voices of the two women calling to him and the very, very different paths they offer. And evidence of how deep it has sunk in, becoming part of mind and heart, will be manifest in his speech, his ability to articulate what is good and true. To defend it. To guard it. And when it has sunk so deeply he is able to speak of it freely, then it becomes his greatest defense against counterfeit voices and paths of folly.

Kind of makes sense. Things that you know well are things you can speak of well. If you can’t really say it, you probably don’t really get it. And so, says the king, attend to lady wisdom so intently, listen so carefully, internalize so diligently, that you can defend the truth articulately. For when you can guard it with your lips, it will protect from the forbidden woman’s lips.

Kind of a simple way to evaluate my own level of protection against the sultry, deceptive, alluring voice of the world. How well can I speak of Wisdom’s ways? How well can I articulate the gospel — the full gospel, from creation through fall through redemption through resurrection? Can I share the ways of the kingdom of heaven? Can I speak of the dynamics of the daily struggle between Spirit and flesh? Can I noodle my way through principles that apply to given situations? Am I familiar enough with the things of God, the ways of man, and the keys for reconciliation, to be able to explain them to someone else? If I can talk of such things, having internalized such knowledge, then I can guard it. And then, it’s able to guard me.

Make sense?

The lips of the wise spread knowledge; not so the hearts of fools.

(Proverbs 15:7 ESV)

There is gold and abundance of costly stones, but the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel.

(Proverbs 20:15 ESV)

O for a heart to pursue Wisdom, so that I might know her well enough to talk of her capably. For a continued desire to so internalize His Word that I am able to verbalize His Word. So that His Word might guard my ways.

By His grace. For His glory.

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