There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him:
- haughty eyes,
- a lying tongue, and
- hands that shed innocent blood,
- a heart that devises wicked plans,
- feet that make haste to run to evil,
- a false witness who breathes out lies, and
- one who sows discord among brothers.
A lying tongue is the second of the seven things here that God hates. This one is pretty straightforward, right? We all know what lying is, don’t we?
Let’s start with remembering what hating what God hates includes: loving what God loves. Those who want to follow God will be lovers of the truth. Because the lying tongue, lying dormant and silent, is still what it is: a lying tongue.
In contrast, listen to Psalm 15 (emphasis mine):
O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent?
Who shall dwell on your holy hill?
2 He who walks blamelessly and does what is right
and speaks truth in his heart;
3 who does not slander with his tongue
and does no evil to his neighbor,
nor takes up a reproach against his friend;
4 in whose eyes a vile person is despised,
but who honors those who fear the Lord;
who swears to his own hurt and does not change;
5 who does not put out his money at interest
and does not take a bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things shall never be moved.
The second bolded phrase, “does not slander with his tongue” is the obvious one, right? It uses the word “tongue” so it jumps out. It’s about the “do not” part of what God hates…but there’s always a “put on” to go with the “put off,” a “do” to go with the “do not.”
More than that even, it starts with what’s going on in your heart more than what’s on your lips. Putting off a lying tongue means speaking the truth, first and foremost, in your heart. This is the kind of person God invites over for tea (see Ps. 15:1 above)…one who speaks truth even in his heart. It’s easy to lie to yourself, or worse yet to rationalize what you’re saying as OK even when you know it’s not true. Or not quite true.
And that brings us to the last bolded phrase: “who swears to his own hurt and does not change.” Sometimes telling the truth will get you in trouble. It’ll make your life more difficult, at least in the short run. Hating the lying tongue means telling the truth even when it appears to be in your best interest (like avoiding pain) to lie. Doing what God wants, even when it looks uncomfortable in the near future, is the character He loves. If you’re going to hate the lying tongue, you need to tell the truth even when it’s going to make your life more difficult.
The truth, though, is a bedrock in your life. God says here “he who does these things shall never be moved” or as the NASB says, “can never be shaken.”
So hate the lying tongue. Even the silent one. And tell the truth even to your own hurt, and you will dwell in God’s tents and never be shaken.