Charles Wesley had a good sense of humor.
He wrote lots of hymns, but my favorite is “O, For A Thousand Tongues To Sing”. It’s the first song in the red Methodist hymnal I grew up with and it’s full of rich phrases that I have grown to appreciate more and more. I used to think Mr. Wesley was dreaming of a Sunday attendance of 1,000 people who would all praise God together. But now I think Charles had something else in mind.
My paraphrase: “If only I had one thousand tongues in my mouth! I would use each and every one to sing of my great Redeemer’s praise! I would wag all those tongues and declare the glory of my God and King! Just think how much talking I could do about the triumphs of His grace with 1,000 tongues!”
But I see a problem here. I have enough trouble with the one tongue I have. Controlling my only tongue is often more than I can handle. How would I ever get one thousand tongues to unite in praise when I can’t even seem to get my one tongue to consistently speak of God’s glory and grace?
The Psalms are full of references to the mouth, lips and tongue and most of them are negative.
- “Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from telling lies.” Ps. 34:13
- “His mouth is full of lies and threats; trouble and evil are under his tongue.” Ps. 10:7
Psalm 71 is different. The writer resolves to use those muscles in a positive way.
- “My mouth will tell of your righteousness.”
- “My lips will shout for joy.”
- “My tongue will tell of your righteous acts all day long.”
Sometimes I have to show my tongue who’s boss and resolve to use it for the good stuff. All day long.