“Though evil is sweet in his mouth and he hides it under his tongue…” (Job 20:12).
Ever try telling a three-year-old to “Look, but don’t touch!” the chocolate bunny in an Easter basket? If the tyke obeys that command, what are the chances he will continue to do so as soon as we leave the room? Does the little one love his mommy and daddy? Yes! Does that guarantee he will not pop that morsel into his mouth, even hide it under his tongue, and shake his head “No!” when we return to ask him about the half-empty basket saying, “Did you eat that candy?” The smear of chocolate on the face gives the honest answer. Busted!
The friend of Job was describing a godless person. He pointed out, “The mirth of the wicked is brief, the joy of the godless lasts but a moment.” Then, as if thinking of our little candy eater, he states that though he cannot bear to let the evil go, he will end up with a bellyache—or worse! “Yet, his food will turn sour in his stomach; it will become the venom of serpents within him (Job 20:14).
From the flavor of sweet candy to the vile venom of a snake—that’s quite a change! When that stage is reached, the person will not just spit out the bad, he will vomit it out. That’s a scary picture! That should be reason enough for a person to refuse evil. That should tell the person living in denial of God, “Wake up! Stop kidding yourself! Sin is poisonous.”
So, what’s the alternative to sin? Are we supposed to live a life of denial, a life without pleasure? Where’s the joy in that? Are the only words from God: “No! No! No!”? Is there never a “Yes!”? Do we ever have permission to eat the candy in life? Satan would say, “No!” He maintains that, just as he reported to Adam and Eve, God doesn’t tell the whole truth. “Sin isn’t so bad!” he asserts. “Taste it and see how good it is!” But he lies. He always lies. His words carry the venom of a snake.
The child of God learns that apart from God there is nothing good—no joy that lasts. The words of warning flow from love. They point towards words of blessing. That is good! We know that. In our worship of the holy, loving God we sing: “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good. Blessed are they who take refuge in him.” And we mean it. We agree with the psalmist who wrote: “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth” (Psalm 119:103)!
We will reach for the sweetness in life that the Savior God offers to us. We will hold it in our mouth. We will hide it under our tongue. We will savor it for time and eternity. We will never spit it out.
We pray: God in heaven, you alone are the source of true and lasting joy. Continue to warn us against the poison of sin. Create in us an appetite for your sweet words. Fill us with your goodness. Amen.
Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Cape Coral, Florida Provided by WELS Ministry to the Military