I have become like one who does not hear,
whose mouth can offer no reply. — Psalm 38:14
In honor of my father, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, and his lifework helping Christians understand the Jewish roots of their faith, I offer you one of his devotional teachings from the beloved Psalms.
What do you do when someone insults you?
If you’re like most of us, your instinct is probably to strike back with an equally, if not more stinging insult. However, as God-centered people, we need to live above our natural instincts. We must live on a higher plane. In Psalm 38 David reveals how he handled the numerous insults hurled upon him throughout his lifetime. He wrote, “I have become like one who does not hear, whose mouth can offer no reply.”
How did David handle when his enemies insulted him? He didn’t listen. He made no response, no matter how untrue or hurtful the insults. He made his ears deaf, his mouth mute.
Now, at first blush, it might seem like we are doing the wrongdoer a favor by letting him or her get away with hurtful behavior. However, the truth is that when we allow someone else’s insults to hurt us by making us angry, spiteful, or resentful, truly, we are only hurting ourselves. We lower ourselves to their level and give credibility to their words.
Don’t Listen to Insults
Several years ago, an ad ran during the Super Bowl that went viral. It featured then-Seattle Seahawks fullback Derrick Coleman, the third deaf player in the NFL. In the ad, Coleman related how he was told that he would never make it in professional sports due to his disability. As a child, he was picked on and called names. But, as the ad concludes, Coleman says, “I’ve been deaf since I was three, so I didn’t listen.”
Thankfully, most of us aren’t deaf. But sometimes we have to act as if we are and shut out the condescending voices that tell us that we aren’t good enough. God thinks that we are more than enough, and His opinion is all that matters.
It’s not easy to shut out the negative and hurtful voices around us, but it’s essential for our success. When David went to fight the giant Goliath, he was just a young boy. His big brother Eliab took a stab at him and said, “I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle” (1 Samuel 17:28). Ouch. However, David didn’t let those hurtful words stop him. He went out to fulfill his God-ordained destiny and brought down the threatening giant.
So how should we handle the insults of others? Instead of retaliating, try prayer. Pray that God will protect us from other people’s hurtful words. Then, once we are safe in God’s shelter, pray for those who hurt us. Only hurting people hurt others. Close your ears, silence your mouth, but open your heart and pray.
Celebrate this season of giving thanks with our complimentary devotional guide, “The Gift of Gratitude.” Download your copy today!