The Power of the Spoken Word

Last week I spoke about words, wonderful words that amused, particularly because they were so delightfully confused.

Words are mysterious and powerful. How many words spoken way back in history still resonate today: Winston Churchill’s many exhortations come to mind; John F. Kennedy is another great political orator; then there are the numerous poets and philosophers, authors and writers whose words are loved and oft repeated.

Words can and do confuse, but they also clarify, educate, inform, edify, they can paint pictures and arouse emotions. Sometimes the actual words are hidden in the mists of memory, but the emotion they evoke remains and we touch the covers of those books with careful respect.

And then there are Words of Destruction, which have a power and a life that is insidious as they silently poison, bringing slow, painful death in the dark and secret places of innermost being. Cruel words for whose cuts and wounds no simple remedy is available.

My son, Dwayne, was visiting recently. He is a good amateur photographer and we were playing around with various shots. He was explaining depth of field to me, taking a picture of an aloe on the perimeter of my garden.

“I can’t get it without the fence.”

“Hhmmm, pity”, I commiserated.

A moment of silence.

“But the fence is there.” Matter of fact, my son is.

“Yes, you’re right. The fence is there. That is the story – beauty behind an ugly fence. Protecting wounds, or inflicting punishment?”

We saw it as the beauty of a soul trapped, unable to escape the barbs of words spoken, opinions formed, fear birthed, defenses raisedBeautiful Aloe, Ugly Fence.


The power of words can never be under-estimated. In the book of Genesis, we read that the Lord God spoke creation into being: God said “Let there be light …”, “Let there be a firmament … “ and so on until creation was complete. Those were words of life-giving power, creative and triumphant.

Compare these to those hissed by the cunning serpent, the great lie that was to echo down through the ages, bringing the pain and humility that has characterised human life since the injudicious bite of that apple: “You will not surely die.”

Oh yes we will! And the chances are it will take a lifetime to do so! And the quality of that life will be formed and defined by the words spoken into it.



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