I like words. All kinds of words.
Silly words… like chicken. Did you ever stop to think how goofy a word that is. And just take a moment to reflect on the sound of words like ostrich, elephant, avocado, buzzard, gizzard, orangutan. The words themselves sound ridiculous. (Any chickens, ostriches, et alia who may be reading this… please do not take offense. I don’t mean to take away from your dignity as a species. I am just commenting on the name you have been tagged with by us human types.)
Some words are graceful, dancing through our lips like ballerinas—consider these: lithe, smooth, elegant, svelte, savannah, supple, lissome, lathe, soothe, forsooth, smile, and simile.
Some words explode, powerful in both pronunciation and meaning. Words like megalomania, magnanimous, doom, damn, condemn, judge, conquer, triumph.
Some words are powerful in meaning, but not in their timbre in the ear—for instance, puissant. Interesting word. If you are not familiar with it, it means “powerful.” But it doesn’t sound powerful. It sounds like a description of a mouse, not a monarch.
Words can stand up by themselves, like soldiers at attention, staid and stately in their own right: sovereign, dignity, statesman, senator, senatorial, judicious, sententious, patrician, patriarch, matriarch, reign, throne, and steed.
Steed? Yep. Think about it. A steed is a loyal, dependable, disciplined creature. “Nag” doesn’t quite capture the same image. A stallion is strong, dominating, masculine—while filly sounds feminine, with perhaps a touch of rambunctious spirit. “Pony” conjures images of gentle animals that are docile and lovable—equine creatures which kindly allow children to sit on their backs. Yet, they are horses one and all.
(Although, truth be told, the sentiment that the word invokes in my mind can belie the truth regarding the animal. I was once bitten by a pony, and my arm still bears the scar to prove it. The pony happened to belong to my brother, and was indeed a kind, docile and gentle animal—that is, as long as you were standing there feeding it sugar or carrots. The minute you ran out of the sweet stuff and started to step away, it became aggressive. Nipped me right on my upper arm! Terrifying experience—having the open mouth of a lunging horse coming right at you.)
I like onomatopoetic words. Grunt! Moan. Buzz. Hack. Zoom. Hisssssssssssssssssssssss.
There are words that seem to live—moving of their own accord. They whirl, twirl, oscillate, pulsate, undulate, gyrate, pirouette, swirl, swoon, sweep, seep, spin, ascend, and soar all on their own volition. Just watch them!
Some words make me smile just by hearing them. Ones like supercilious, serendipity, superfluous, ostentatious, oxymoron.
Suppose you had never heard the word “oxymoron” before (ever play Balderdash?). What would you think this strange word means? Could it be a really stupid bovine animal? How about an idiot’s inhalations?
Some words are harsh and mean. If you were totally unfamiliar with these words, their very tones would still make you wince. They are cruel, grim, inexorable, bitter, fiendish, diabolical words. Even if you didn’t know what it was, would you want to eat gruel?
I guess you could say that I am a logophile. I love words. They are such powerful things. While only breathed or written symbols of greater realities, they are still mighty forces. They can hurt, or heal. They bespeak care, or contempt. They reveal scorn, or respect. They lift us to heights of ecstasy, or dash us on the stones of despondency.
The Bible has a lot to say about words, and speaking. For example, Jesus said, “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” This means that what comes out of our mouths is simply a revelation of what is already in our hearts. (Then how vile and cruel and petty our hearts can be!) Our words are far too often unkind and selfish—because our hearts are far too often unkind and selfish.
But isn’t it interesting that the Bible teaches us that the Lord Jesus is Himself the very WORD of God! Applying the teaching of Jesus Himself to this revelation, we understand that by looking at Jesus we can see into the very heart of God! Want to know what God is like? —Look at Jesus.
And what do we see when we look at Jesus? A flood of words rushes to my mind: love, gentleness, goodness, compassion, unselfishness, care, firmness, solidity, loyalty, truth, reality, holiness, peace, justice… and the list could go on and on. Our words fail to adequately describe the beauty and the glory and the attractiveness of the Logos, the very living Word of God.
“Oh for a thousand tongues to sing my great Redeemer’s praise!”