Wednesday, 21 January 2015
Even things without life, whether flute or harp, when they make a sound, unless they make a distinction in the sounds, how will it be known what is piped or played? 1 Corinthians 14:7
In the previous verse, Paul intimated that there is no profit in speaking in a tongue if it contains nothing to edify those who hear the tongue spoken. To bolster this, he now shows that “even things without life” have the same effect on us. If this is so, then how much more living beings who need to be articulate in their utterances in order to benefit others!
And so he says, “whether flute or harp, when they make a sound…” The flute and the harp are inanimate objects. They need something external to produce sounds. If there is nothing external applied to them, then no sound will be made. Such is the case with the vocal chords too. They need to have the body initiate an action in order for them to resonate.
Continuing on he says, “unless they make a distinction in the sounds, how will it be known what is piped or played?” Again, the image he is making is obvious. When one plays a flute, they vary the amount of wind entering it. They also cover or uncover various holes in order to obtain differing notes, etc. The harp requires fingers or a hand utensil to be applied to it in varying amounts of pressure and at varying intervals. Different strings on the harp are also employed for differing sounds.
There must be a “distinction in the sounds” in order for there to be any type of music to be produced. In the Greek, three different words are used to describe the process – phóné, diastolé, phthoggos, or literally “voice,” “distinction,” and “sound.” And so we see that there is the “sound” which is like the voice. There are distinctions in that voice which provide proper modulation. And then there are the resulting sounds as they are modulated.
All of these combine to form that which is coherent and which results in something useful, be it a sweet song, a request for dinner, or a cry for help. Whatever the intent of the sounds is, they must go through a certain process which includes all three steps in order for others to hopefully comprehend what is being relayed.
Understanding these different words which Paul uses to describe what he intends, will lead us to a simple revelation concerning the false tongues which are so often used in churches. To assume that God would make a secret “prayer language” that we didn’t understand, or to assume that He would give an incoherent “tongue” that wasn’t a known language, is utterly ridiculous. God can’t produce a language which is unknown to Him, and He would not have us produce a language which is unknown to us that we would speak to Him for His benefit. That makes no sense at all. There would simply be no purpose in it.
Life application: If you have the ability to speak, why would you waste that ability on a showy demonstration of meaningless words rather than words which edify and build others up? Be wise; speak with purpose and sense!
Lord God, You have designed me with a brain that should engage when preparing to speak. You have given me vocal chords which can then make sounds. And You have given me experiences which I can relate to others. Having these things available still needs something else to make them work in a good way. Give me a heart, O Lord, which will use these things to help others and to build them up. Please assist me in keeping this heart from evil intent. Instead, let it be soft and receptive to those around me so that my other body parts will be used in a pleasing and helpful way. Thank You for this Lord. Amen.