Romans 3:13


Tuesday, 5 March 2013

“Their throat is an open tomb; With their tongues they have practiced deceit”; Romans 3:13

In this verse and the next two verses come quotes from the One who created the human body. As the designer of man, God understands the intended use of the parts of the body and He also understands both what they can represent metaphorically and also how they can be misused.

In these three verses, the throat, the tongue, the lips, and the mouth are noted in order and then the feet are mentioned. The order starts with the internal most part and works outward – throat, tongue, and lips. It then is summed up in the visible notation of the three combined – the mouth. It is as if we are visibly watching a person vomiting out wickedness.

After this will be noted the feet. Once the heart’s wickedness is expelled from the mouth, the feet are used to carry it everywhere they go. The imagery is shocking when considered as intended. Verse 13 is a quote from the 5th Psalm, and is taken more specifically from the Greek translation of that Psalm known as the Septuagint. Noted below are the Hebrew (NKJV) and Greek (LXX) translations:

For there is no faithfulness in their mouth; Their inward part is destruction; Their throat is an open tomb; They flatter with their tongue. (NKJV)

For there is no truth in their mouth;
their heart is vain;
their throat is an open sepulchre;
with their tongues they have used deceit. (LXX)

As with any quote from the Old Testament, the context needs to be considered. The quote is specifically speaking about “boasters” and “workers of iniquity” (v5) and “those who speak falsehood” and “the bloodthirsty and deceitful man” (v6). Therefore, this verse, as with the previous verses, is not intended as an all-encompassing indictment, but is directed to those who practice such ways.

The throat of these people is compared to an open grave. The grave is the repository for the dead. If the grave is left open, the stench of the decaying body is left uncovered and it affects everything around it. The words which proceed from such a person are intended to reduce anyone around to a nauseas state, even to despair.

At the same time as being a place from which stench and putridity arises, the grave is open to receive more corpses – even until it is filled. The mouth which speaks such abominations not only offends, it destroys and consumes. Because it does it will continue to put out a vile odor as those it receives begin to rot. This is the state of mind we are intended to see. Those who speak falsehood and who are bloodthirsty reek with wickedness, destroy others, and cause them to reek with their decay. It is a repetitious and increasing cycle which is never satisfied.

All of this proceeds from the heart, through the open throat, and then off the tongue. The symbolism of these body parts is so vivid and correct because God who designed them knows how easily they can be misused.

Life application: Our words have consequences. When they are used properly, they are edifying of others, honoring to ourselves, and glorifying of God. When they are used in a wrong manner, they cause harm to those who receive them and they will be used as a tool of judgment against us (Matthew 12:36). Let us determine in our hearts to use our words carefully and in a manner which is good and right, not in evil and wickedness.

Jesus, may You be with me and remind me that the words I speak have power to help or to harm, to glorify or demean, to build up or to tear down. May the words of my lips only be used in a positive and honoring way. I know that what they ultimately reflect is the state of my heart, so change my heart to be pure, noble, and right. This I pray to Your glory. Amen.

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