The Tongue of ‘The Learned’
Words are cheap, we say; and so they are! They tumble from our lips like water gushing from a geyser, very often unsparingly; a relentless flow of expression, of sound and fury, of chatter; words that hurt and injure; words that provoke and subdue; foolish words, hasty words – “For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks” declares the scripture. The tongue of Jesus was a learned one, for His words were carefully measured in all that He needed to say, and an expression of all that the Father was feeling. No man had ever spoken with such wisdom, power and authority; the very officer of the high priest who was sent to arrest him acknowledged this and came away persuaded that this man was no ordinary man; “Never a man spoke like this man”, was his cry.
What kind of tongue do we possess? For the manner of our conversation will gauge the quality of our inner life and our words will reveal its source. The man who is destined to go far in spiritual learning is the one who withdraws himself from time to time from the many sounds and voices of modern life to immerse himself in the stillness and solitude of meditation in the Word, for unless we learn to cultivate the spiritual ear in private, we shall never gain the tongue of the learned. “Be still and know that I am God” declares the Psalmist. However difficult this drawing aside may be in today’s busy world, its regular practice would profit much. “He that has ears to hear, let him hear” spoke Jesus many times. “You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence” wrote David.
What quiet times of solitude Moses must have endured for 40 years in the waste lands of Midian – a place that was a far cry from the civilisation of Egypt; from the constant round of official engagements; from the intrigue of its courts and from his past military conquest – all these were now faded memories. Contact with that world had been severed long ago, for many years of minding sheep had dulled his senses, tarnished his self-image and stilled his tongue. During his long years in exile a crisis of confidence had arisen in Moses that had affected his power to act and to speak – God was soon to change all that, for this prince who was once schooled in all the wisdom of Egypt, was now being commissioned to speak for God. His desert experience now over, Moses was to be given the tongue of the learned.
“Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever” declared Daniel, ‘for wisdom and might are His, He gives wisdom unto the wise and knowledge to them that know understanding; He reveals the deep and secret things”. Yet the Tongue of the Learned is never reached other than through the way of the sanctified heart; its pathway is graced by humility; it is dependent on the right spirit within us; its spiritual knowledge is gained not by academic qualifications in themselves, but is born out of a heart that longs for a closer walk – a devotional relationship.
Also, the urge to speak rather than to listen is something that the aspiring Christian needs to reverse if he is ever to gain the tongue of the learned. The tongue of the learned, however, is not only effective in expression, but also in stillness, for there is a wisdom and power in stillness, along with self-control, that begins to work for us when we turn the other cheek to an unkind or judgemental remark.
As we therefore exercise the spiritual ear in our devotions, so as to gain more of the ‘Tongue of the Learned’ we may well become aware that there are some things that are too big for words; there are impressions that we should personally enjoy; experiences in His presence that we should savour, and meditations that are rich in spiritual nourishment.
Blessings to you all
Jack has been a faithful member of the Free Methodist Church for 34 years, spending many of those years in leadership. He lives in Lancashire, UK, and has recently celebrated 60 years as being a Christian! Find our more about Jack and the story behind Jack’s corner: Treasures of the Word here.