“Furthermore, in your bedchamber do not curse a king, and in your sleeping rooms do not curse a rich man, for a bird of the heavens will carry the sound and the winged creature will make the matter known” (Ecclesiastes 10:20 NASU).
“A birdie told me” Mom said, when I asked her how she knew about what I had done as a kid. Solomon mentions something like this in our text. Solomon is using an ancient saying that is still popular today. In using this expression, he is revealing several important truths:
First, we must appreciate the speed of words. We often say “good news travels fast.” But in this modern age of technology, news (good and bad) travels at speeds never before imagined. Knowing, therefore, how quickly news gets out, we should choose our words carefully.
Second, we must appreciate the power of words. We can say things – even in “confidence” (like our bedroom) – that can negatively affect us and others. Words do hurt, offend and kindle hard feelings. Therefore, it is vital that we guard what we say at all times – even in situations where we believe no one will ever figure out what we say. Our speech should “always” be with grace (Colossians 4:6), and we should “let no unwholesome word proceed out of your mouth” (Ephesians 4:29).
Third, we must appreciate the appropriateness of words. Again, remember Paul’s admonition to “consider how we ought to respond to every person” (Colossians 4:6). In Solomon’s example, a person wants to “curse” both a king and a rich man. Even though they may deserve the curse, it still shouldn’t be given – even by one in private. We must never speak evil of anyone.
Fourth, we must appreciate the danger of words. Solomon warned that “the lips of the fool consume him” (10:12). What will happen if the king and rich man find out what was said? It will not be good for the one who uttered the foolish curse (Matthew 5:21-26).
We must learn to control our tongues! James spent considerable time making this very point in his epistle (James 3). May we always exercise wisdom with our words, not only in what we say but where we say them.