What does Psalm 34:13 mean?In the prior verse, David asked a rhetorical question: who wants to live a good life? Here, he provides an answer, flowing from his promise to teach about "the fear of the LORD." Those who sincerely obey God, seeking His will and respecting His commands, have the best chance at happiness and success. Even more importantly, they care for their eternal soul (Matthew 16:26).
A life which properly respects God involves appropriate use of our tongue and lips. The apostle James described the tongue as a fire (James 3:6). In the wrong circumstances, the tiniest flame fire can reduce a house to rubble and a forest to ashes. The uncontrolled tongue can leave a devastating mark on a person's life. James also described the tongue as "evil, full of deadly poison" (James 3:8).
Proverbs 21:23 offers this wise counsel: "Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble." In Psalm 34:13 David urges us to avoid lying. Proverbs 6:16–19 lists six things the Lord hates—a lying tongue and a false witness are two of the six. Instead of lying, God's people are supposed to put away deceit and hypocrisy (1 Peter 2:1) and speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).
In this context, David is speaking of deliberately corrupted speech, especially that which is deceitful. However, this idea also includes "bad language," or profanity, something common in modern culture. Uncontrolled or vulgar speech should be noticeably absent from the lips of God's people.