2002-01-08 - Naphtali: Beautiful Words
Psalm 19:14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.
Now you might think that Naphtali is some clever Latin or Greek phrase upon which I hope to edify you today and if you do, well, you would be wrong. Naphtali is the sixth son of the 12 sons of Jacob and the father of the tribe of Naphtali, one of the 12 tribes of Israel. We basically know nothing about him personally. There is only one verse that really tells us anything about him. Genesis 49:21 says, "Naphtali a hind let loose, he gives beautiful words." That is really just about all we know about him. Another translation in that verse for "beautiful" would be "goodly" and thus the connotation is that his words were timely and appropriate, and his speech was pleasing and good.
At first glance, the fact that someone speaks wise words is not the most resounding affirmation of personal character that we can find in the Bible. However, when we consider how some others in Scripture have been remembered, we know it could be a lot worse. But let us think about such a statement of character in light of our own culture today. There are so few who speak wisely. There are so few who are careful not to use inappropriate speech. There are so few who honor the name of the Lord and avoid using it in vain. We really are a culture that does not speak beautiful words. "Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth..." Ephesians 4:29
"For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well," James 3:2. Did you catch the significance that is placed here on what we say? If we can avoid stumbling in what we say, we are perfect. So maybe what was said of Naphtali in Genesis 49 is something that should perk our attention. As I thought about this phrase spoken of Naphtali, I came to the conclusion that it is not such a small thing to be remembered as he was.
It is not easy to strive to be known for having beautiful words. It is so much easier to get a jab in or to speak flippantly from time to time. It is easy to "get the last word in." It is easy to use words that build ourselves up unfairly while putting someone down. It is easy to hold back the kind or thoughtful word. Christians don't take the easy way out. While we may need to grow in this area we all need to be seeking to speak beautiful words.
I will leave you with one example. I remember several years ago I was in a bank parking lot and there was a guy there whose car battery had gone dead. He asked me for a jump and I said sure and we set about the task. He told me he had asked several people who had said no and kept telling me how thankful he was that I said yes. He kept trying to pay me. I finally turned to him and said, "Hey, I'm a Christian, this is the sort of stuff Christians gladly do." He seemed interested and asked where I went to church. I said where and he said that he had gone there several times but that no one had talked to him even when he stood around after the service. He felt really awkward as a result and stopped going.
I bet people like him come to churches like yours. My application to you would be that when you see someone like him standing around: be bold, approach, stretch out your hand and say, "Hi, glad you are here, what is your name?" It is that simple to start using beautiful words. Those are beautiful words.
Soli Deo Gloria,