Sticks & stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.

Not true.

Your words can hurt others. Your words can hurt you.

You might need a muzzle. 

I use words. Lots of words. I have conversations. Long conversations. I tell stories. Long stories. I preach sermons. Long... you get the picture. About the only thing I do with words that is short is tweet. 140 characters or less. There’s some economy for you.

So, the other day, reading in the midst of my Bible in a year plan a verse jumped off the page and smacked me on the mouth. Psalm 39:1 HCSB says: 

I said, "I will guard my ways so that I may not sin with my tongue; I will guard my mouth with a muzzle as long as the wicked are in my presence."

One proverb. Two statements. A couplet. It’s Hebrew parallelism. This type is progressive parallelism. Makes one statement, then the second statement of the couplet progresses beyond the first.

What do we learn from this proverb?

Guard our tongues lest we sin. Gotcha. It’s a needed aphorism. Many of us are good at getting ourselves into trouble by what we say.

Then the second half—the progressive part that moves beyond the first—tells us not only to guard our prone-to-sin-mouths, but to muzzle ourselves. When? When wicked folks are near.

What’s the point?

Our words can be sinful. They can hurt others. They can hurt us. And our own sinful words can be as fearsome as the bite of a vicious dog when uttered in the earshot of the wicked. The wicked take sin and make it worse. Scary worse. Call the pound worse. Put that animal down worse.

Watch your mouth, Friends.

Muzzle as needed.