In my distress I cry to the Lord,
that he may answer me:
'Deliver me, O Lord,
from lying lips,
from a deceitful tongue.'
What shall be give to you?
And what more shall be done to you,
you deceitful tongue?
A warrior's sharp arrows,
with glowing coals of the broom tree!...
To long have I had my dwelling
among those who hate peace.
I am for peace.
(Church in Wales Lectionary, New Revised Standard Version)
Psalm 120 is called a Psalm of Ascent, and was a series of psalms that were sung by pilgrims or priests going to Jerusalem as they toiled up the steep hills to get to the Temple. Can we picture the background? The writer leaves his village with its backbiting, slander, gossip, and lies. He wants peace and he aims to get it on his journey to Jerusalem and in his worship of God.
Slander and lies are difficult things to handle, we feel angry at the injustice, and we are hurt and miserable, but we are helpless to deal with the problem. If someone was to attack us physically we could fight back, but the louder we object to lies others feel there must be some truth in what is being said about us. We have seen how lies have caused people to spend years in prison even though innocent, and when they are freed, people still feel uncertain about them.
Even worse though is when people around us smile and flatter, but behind our backs they malign us. Communities and church congregations can sometimes breed such horrible situations, and ultimately only prayer, and the refusal to listen to gossip will solve the problem.
So is there any good that comes out of such a situation? Well, it will probably drive us back to God, and He knows us through and through, and will hear our prayers.
when others tell lies about us;
when gossip affects us adversely;
and when we feel alone and unloved;
may we remember that You know the truth,
and turn to You for help.
Keep us from gossiping about others,
or listening to the lies that others tell.