Curse not the king, no not in thy thought; and curse not the rich in thy bedchamber: for a bird of the air shall carry the voice, and that which hath wings shall tell the matter. (Ecclesiastes 10:20)
The words/text have given rise to the little phrase which you sometimes hear when the question is asked: How do you know I said this/that? Who told you?
The answer is sometimes given, complete with a little smile:
A little bird told me!
Here is the source of that rather secretive reply
Another case of where the Bible has influenced the everyday language of the people
It was considered treason to curse the King
Whatever your thoughts might be…it were better that you kept them to yourself
The modern idea of freedom/speech and liberty to express contrary opinions were hardly even thought of then
You kept your mouth shut and you kept your head down
There was nowhere safe
Even the bedchamber - that most private of places - could not be considered safe
Many a man has been trapped by his own pillow talk
There is an incident in the life/Elisha where the King/Syria was told that Elisha was able to repeat the very words he spoke/his bedroom
The law/God forbade the cursing of the Ruler - here Solomon goes further and chains the very thoughts
Once an idea is born in the mind…it can grow and will soon escape the lips and the damage is done
The reference to the bird is the very opposite of secrecy.
It is a bird of the air
It can fly where it wants and you are helpless to stop it or plan its flight
The whispered words, designed for absolute secrecy, are soon spread abroad/common knowledge
Listen to the words of another:
It is dangerous to speak, where secrecy is required. The thought is thine own, while you keep it to yourself; but once the cage is opened, and the bird let loose, who knows how far its flight may bear it? You tell it to a single friend. He tells it to another, who mentions it to a chosen few. The cord is loosened; then it is slipped, your bird will no more roost in secrecy. Learn to keep your secret to yourself. It is snug to know that the bird is in the cage, securely fastened. And though it flutter against the bars, desiring its liberty, still keep it close. No harm it will do while there. What mischief it might do if let loose, you know not.
We want to think (today) about this bird/air that carries the conversation
Solomon reminds us: the tongue, though a little member, can do great harm
It doesn't take much…for the bird cannot carry much in its little beak
James said that the tongue, although a little member, can boast great things.: Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth.
But the Christian is not commanded to be dumb
James also spoke of the tongue blessing God.
Surely the little bird that can carry the words/rebellion can just as easily carry the words/loyalty also?
It is on this more positive note that we desire to speak
What communication should the bird/air be carrying from our thought life/bed chamber to listening ears/others?
A/ A more glorious subject/conversation cannot be found
Other subjects are glorious
We may speak of great heroics whether on battle field/sports field/personal lives which serve to spur us on to greater heights
Well/good (as far as it goes) but we cannot equal/surpass the glory of the Lord Jesus
The record God gave/His Son makes all others pale/insignificance
 Let’s talk of the glory which He had before the world began
No time/no universe
Three Persons in One Godhead fellowshipping supremely and happily one with another
God /Son one of the Glorious Three
Supremely honoured by the Father
Then the world is created
Angels come on the scene & they worship Him
Man falls and the Son is revealed as Promised Saviour
Although imperfectly…yet He is adored/looked for by the OT Church: Abraham rejoiced/see His day – saw it & was glad (John 8:56)
 Let’s talk of His incarnation (Galatians 4:4)
But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,
Weak (Though sinless) human flesh
Born into a manger to poor parents
Are these not glorious subjects?
 Let’s talk of His great ministry
Healings/Miracles & above all His teachings:
Never man spake like this man (John 7:46)
Is the message/grace not a marvellous thing?
 Let’s talk of His atoning death: As worded by Charles Wesley:
Tis mystery all! The Immortal dies! - Who can explore His strange design?
In vain the first born seraph tries - To sound the depths of Love divine
That He should die at all is a great mystery…
that He should purposely die for His worst/enemies is wonder/wonders
 Let’s talk of His resurrection from the dead
His Ascension/Present ministry. His return etc.,
 let’s talk of he message/gospel of full salvation by grave through faith alone: Marvellous beyond any compare
B/ The early Christians so centred their speech on these things.
Let's do away with thought that this is fanaticism
Christians: are free to discuss other things e.g. politics/sport etc.,
We are not hermits living on some remote island in the middle/nowhere
We ought to be capable of contributing to every day conversation
But what a man truly loves will soon come to the fore
We all return to favourite subjects
Totally committed politicians will return to the various debates
Economists will discuss the latest figures and forecasts
Christians therefore will speak oft about Christ
We sometimes sing, do we not?
I sing, for I cannot be silent – His love is the theme of my song
If Christians are always harping on a worldly thing - then it is evident that Christ is taking second place
We have gone beyond ordinary speech – the politics/sport has taken over
We are betraying the bias of our hearts towards the world
It may be a struggle – but at least, let there be a struggle
Let it not be that we fail to mention Christ from one Sabbath/next
The early Christians are good examples to us
Key verse: Acts 8:4 gossiping/word.
These aren't the apostles (8:1) Just the ordinary 5/8ths Xians
So natural to them to spread the gospel
Evident it was no put on nor was it superficial
People detect/hate such
Even if disagree…know when genuine
C/ Speak about the Lord Jesus
Think of the two on Rd/Emmaus
Much we can criticise - but not this:
The conversation turned immediately to Christ:
And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad? And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days? And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people: (Luke 24:17-19)
Immediate because it was natural.
They did not make use of the supposed Stranger to relieve themselves of their burden for spiritual things
Such is the thought in our text
Words do not die
Words get recorded/repeated
Words become famous
Words become (like text) proverbial & live for ever
A/ Solomon taught this elsewhere:
Word fitly spoken…apples/gold in pictures/silver.
Again: 15:23 Word spoken/due season…how good is it
Why? Because it lives on - Has a good effect
B/ As Christians we have begun to make sure the birds fly with message. Employed (successfully) those modern means of mass communication
Printing press/radio/TV/www. etc.,
Good. But there is something better (quality wise) i.e. by word/mouth
Somebody repeating what you said in your enthusiasm as a Christian
Hard to beat the personal word!
Puts flesh on doctrine
Personalises impersonal words from a distant land in an distant age
Makes it real
C/ Think of influence you can have
The little bird carries your speech
Into home/friends/work mates/customers/school among teachers/pupils &c,
Even people unsympathetic (context) can carry your speech for you
Do you hear what that nutter outside said…?
God works in mysterious ways
Text again shows that.: twittering bird carrying words
God uses despised means
Sparrow was used by Jesus to denote most common thing
God can work unknown to us
Little bird was unsuspected
D/ It is exciting isn't it!
What power lies in your tongue. But you must use it
If you keep the bird caged…no good can be done
It must be loosed and let go
Don't be a dumb Christian
A/ Which, followed after by our enjoyment, is the chief end of man
If your speech is Christ centred/Christ uplifting…then God will be glorified
B/ Seen (dramatically) when Angels announced Birth/Christ to Shepherds - What happened?
The Shepherds responded most positively and they themselves repeated what they heard: Luke 2:17-18/20
And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.
God was glorified.
C/ God is never more glorified in salvation/lost soul
Angels in Heaven rejoice (Luke 15:7)
Great cry of the Redeemed is the song/Moses & Lamb
In no Christian testimony…should man ever get the glory
It is all God: none seen but Jesus only
A/ Cannot if for God's glory
In text, speaker brought upon himself more than mere shame
Endangered his liberties/life
Possibly implicated others (listeners)
Affected his family etc.
B/ Speak God glorifying words (e.g. gospel) & although you might be unpopular (in that sense shamed) yet your shame is not shame
Paul was often humiliated by men, yet he could say:
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. (Romans 1:16)
For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. (2 Timothy 2:12)
If your speech is seasoned with grace/salt…hold your head high
If God commends it & does not condemn it
(Sound speech which cannot be condemned: Titus 2:8)
then what are men's sneers?
Not against you…but against Christ (Acts 9:5)
Words (text) against the King
C/ Word to unsaved…Curse not the King
Do not refuse Christ's offer/salvation
Such refusal effectively says: We will not have this [King] to reign over us
God sees that type of talk simply as rebellion
You are already his by creation and providence
You are happy to take all the benefits but you do not yield your heart
Let me show you a better way:
Embrace the gospel of free grace now and you will experience reality/God's wonderful salvation from sin