What does Psalm 34:13 mean?
ESV: Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit.
NIV: keep your tongue from evil and your lips from telling lies.
NASB: Keep your tongue from evil And your lips from speaking deceit.
CSB: Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from deceitful speech.
NLT: Then keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies!
KJV: Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile.
NKJV: Keep your tongue from evil, And your lips from speaking deceit.
Verse Commentary:
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.
Verse Context:
Psalm 34:8–14 invites others to experience the Lord's goodness. David has just praised the Lord for delivering him from the Philistines at Gath (1 Samuel 21:10–15). Now, he celebrates what God does for those who fear Him: He gives His people happiness; He protects them; He provides bountifully for them; and He grants them long life.
Chapter Summary:
David praises the Lord for delivering him from the Philistines, and he invites others to join him in singing joyfully to the Lord. He extols the virtue of fearing the Lord and remembering His goodness. He encourages the Lord's people to respect God and offers wisdom leading to a long and blessed life. At the end of this psalm David emphasizes the distinction the Lord draws between the wicked and the righteous. He cares for the righteous and will not condemn them, but He condemns the wicked.
Chapter Context:
David composed this psalm after he escaped from the Philistines at Gath. He accomplished this by feigning insanity and later sheltered in the cave of Adullum. This experience is recorded in 1 Samuel 21:10—22:1. Like Psalm 25, this is an acrostic psalm. Every verse except the final one begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. First Peter 2:3 alludes to the psalm's eighth verse, and 1 Peter 3:10–12 quotes verses 12–16 of Psalm 34. John 19:36 refers to Psalm 34:20.
Book Summary:
The book of Psalms is composed of individual songs, hymns, or poems, each of which is a ''Psalm'' in and of itself. These works contain a wide variety of themes. Some Psalms focus on praising and worshipping God. Others cry out in anguish over the pain of life. Still other Psalms look forward to the coming of the Messiah. While some Psalms are related, each has its own historical and biblical context.
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