In John 10:10 Jesus promises His followers abundant life. This blog is about my life as His follower.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Not everything that you say can be taken back

I never cease to be amazed at the power of words.

I've been slowly working my way through the book of Genesis in my morning times with God, today I was looking at Genesis 21:1-40. That's the account of when Issac was getting old and wanted to give his oldest son, Esau, his blessing. But the younger son, Jacob, conspired with his mother, Rebekah, and stole the blessing.

Every single time I read this account I always wonder about what the big deal is. Why couldn't Issac just say something like: my bad, it was a mistake what I said was really meant for Esau so now I'll do it again for him and give him the blessing.

Verses 35-38 seem to indicate that oral statements are binding and irrevocable. But, why?

So I spent some time today finding out what other people have to say on this topic. Here's the two comments I found most interesting:

John Calvin - "Moses does not in vain pause over this narrative as a most serious matter, we must first observe, that when Jacob received the blessing from his father, this token confirmed to him the oracle by which the Lord had preferred him to his brother. For the benediction here spoken of was not a mere prayer but a legitimate sanction, divinely interposed, to make manifest the grace of election. God had promised to the holy fathers that he would be a God to their seed for ever. They, when at the point of death, in order that the succession might be secured to their posterity, put them in possession, as if they would deliver, from hand to hand, the favour which they had received from God. So Abraham, in blessing his son Isaac, constituted him the heir of spiritual life with a solemn rite. With the same design, Isaac now, being worn down with age, imagines himself to be shortly about to depart this life, and wishes to bless his firstborn son, in order that the everlasting covenant of God may remain in his own family. The Patriarchs did not take this upon themselves rashly, or on their own private account, but were public and divinely ordained witnesses."

I find these comments of Calvin interesting because he's one of the few I could find that explain why this blessing was irrevocable, what was it's origin and importance. The whole idea was that Issac learned from his dad, Abraham, that the blessing God had given Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3, Genesis 13:14-17, Genesis 15:1-6, Genesis 15:1-6) was both through Issac and to Issac (Genesis 17:19, Genesis 22:15-18) . Before his death Issac apparently wanted to pass on this blessing to his son.

Beth Moore - "I don't think we Gentiles have no clue what a true Hebrew blessing entailed. God's ancient people were taught by His Word and example to mean what they said and never to speak or take a blessing lightly. Words are powerful. If the ancients ever erred in assuming fraud wasn't ground for retraction, we moderns tend to err dramatically in the opposite extreme. We speak words hastily and think we can simply take them back at a moment's notice without consequences. Sometimes there are simply no "take backs"."

This all hit me today because sometimes I say things that would be better left unsaid. Words are important. I'm reminded of a favorite Bible verse in Psalm 141:3(NLT):

Take control of what I say, O Lord,
and guard my lips.

May this verse from Psalms be my prayer today and every day.

What about you, do you ever struggle with your words? Have you ever said things that you wish you could take back?


David-FireAndGrace said...

It's always a battle. According to James, the tongue is a fire.

I am fond of the illustration where the father has his son put a nail into the fence in the back yard each time he says something hurtful.

After a short period of time there are quite a few nails, and the father has his son ask forgiveness for those hurtful comments, after which; he allows the child to pull the nails from the fence.

The child seems relieved that the nails are now gone until his father points out that the nail holes cannot be removed.

Victor S E Moubarak said...

We all say things now and then we regret ... at times soon afterwards. Perhaps we need an "undo" button like on computers.

What if ... we pulled our ears outwards with both hands when we say something we regret and it means "I take it all back"?

Or how about saying "Sorry!" straightaway?

Now there's a thought!

God bless.

Michelle said...

I have thought the same things about this passage...I just can't understand why it was so binding.

I have been thinking about my words every single day lately. Every single day I have a mini-me named Lily that embodies my entire personality and it makes me want to CRY. Everything she says I can hear my own voice and my own words...and it's so rude sometimes. Instead of correction, I have to ask for forgiveness and God's guidance on how I can change what I say to her when guiding her. Instead of, "I SAID look here, RIGHT NOW!" Because it really doesn't sound very nice when she says it to her little brother. :( It must not sound very nice when I say it either.

RCUBEs said...

That's my prayer...for Him to guard my mouth, especially at my work place, when circumstances may drive me to an unexpected burst of hurtful words. Only by His grace...

Thank you sister Tracy for your encouragement always and the prayers. Feeling better. Still on and off pain but because of Him, I may be slow but still able to accomplish things, one thing at a time. So thanks be to God! May you have a wonderful week ahead and praying for the Lord to always keep you and bless you more!

江仁趙雲虹昆 said...

Pen and ink is wits plough...................................................................

于庭吳 said...


David-FireAndGrace said...

I didn't comment on the blessing, but I thought I would. Here are a couple of thoughts.

- The blessing was legal an binding action. As is our salvation.
- The blessing was God's creative word, creating a tangible destiny for the one that it was spoken over. Similar to creation.
- The blessing was "good" and that was God's part. The sin of deception was man's part. God doesn't "make" men do anything.
- Blessing is akin to prophecy and is inspired by God, and like prophecy, man can abuse it, but tha doesn't make prophecy bad.
- Jacob is a type: the Father of Israel - a sinner - one that God chose to redeem. It shows God's graciousness to the Gentiles in bringing every tribe and tongue the Gospel.

May said...

There have been times when I have said things that I wished I could take back. Unfortunately it is not that simple. Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.- Psalm 141:3

Deborah Ann said...

I so needed this today! I'm learning to control my mouth pretty good, but for some reason when I'm emailing, all bets are off. Think I'm gonna go on a fast...of my mouth.

JD Curtis said...

I know what you mean DA.

Think twice before you send/say anything.

If need be, sleep on it a night to mull it over. I try to anyway.

Tracy said...

Deborah Ann - My youngest son went on a words fast for 2 days because he said his mouth got him in "trouble" too often. He didn't tell anyone that he was on a fast because he didn't want to seem like he was bragging; I did figure it out and he managed to pull it off. He said later that it made him much more aware of his words.

Bomi Jolly - JollyNotes said...

I love reading your blog, you always discuss such great and thought provoking topics that I think about again and again.

I was reminded of this a few days ago - at an event I attended. One of the hosts said something to an entire crowd that was totally out of line... but too late, she couldn't take it back unfortunately. I'm still trying to figure out why she said was she said - I'm sure she wishes she could take it back now.

Words, words, words... ! I liked reading about your son's "fast" too=).

Have a blessed day!


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