Saturday, July 08, 2006

The power of words; finding and living with a spouse

Today's reading is from the book of the Proverbs.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue
And those who love it will eat its fruit.
He who finds a wife finds a good thing
And receives favor from the Lord
Proverbs 18.21-22
I'm not sure if the author had something in mind in putting these two together, but this juxtaposition seems just too juicy to be an accident.

So, the first one talks about the astonishing power of words. The Bible says that God created the heavens and the earth by speaking. We humans, made in the image of God, have power in our mouths to kill and to give life. But what does it mean, "those who love it will eat its fruit"? Here's my take.

Here, "it" means the power of the tongue. The "fruit" are the results -- the power of death and life. If I love to build others up with my words, I will reap the consequences of that. If I love to tear others down with my words, I'll get those results too.

Which I take to be both a promise and a warning.

And finding a wife -- now there's a result of the power of words. This point was a major assumption of E.B. White's memorable The Trumpet of the Swan. Louis the swan was mute, and his father, the old cob, was worried about him: How could Louis find a wife, he wondered, without the power of words to woo her?

And it doesn't stop with finding a wife; when husband and wife live together, the fruit of the power of words... comes all the time, as the lovely Carol shows in this entry in her blog

And that brings something concrete to the abstract concept...

Update 7/9:
Just before 18.21 comes this:
From the fruit of his mouth a man's stomach is filled;
with the harvest from his lips he is satisfied.
Proverbs 18.20
which drives home the power of words. Our words can bring us sustenance or starvation... and then the next verse talks about death and life itself in the power of the tongue.

No comments: