Welcome to SmithvilleChurch.org


      Nurturing people in the image of God since 1868.                                                                          POB 397/520 Dry Creek Rd./Smithville, TN


What Will the Little Birdie Tell?

Somebody warned, "Beware of a loose tongue. It may lead to loose teeth." Or worse. Consider this piece of inspired wisdom from Ecclesiastes 10:20 — "Do not curse the king, even in your thought; do not curse the rich, even in your bedroom; For a bird of the air may carry your voice, And a bird in flight may tell the matter." That directive is found in a section of Scripture contrasting the wise man's behavior with the fool's. Earlier Solomon had blunt and unflattering things to say about the fool and his mouth—"...the lips of a fool shall swallow him up; The words of his mouth begin with foolishness, And the end of his talk is raving madness. A fool also multiplies words" (10:12b-14a). One sure sign of a fool is a big, loud mouth. The fool blabbers on and on and on till your ears hurt and your head swims. You can't get a word in edgeways! The fool's sentences and subjects come fast and furious and leave you longing to escape. Blabbermouthed fools need the self-help group for compulsive talkers called "On and On Anon!"

Back to Solomon's bird in Ecclesiastes 10:20. If you "curse the king," Solomon warns that even from your bedroom "a bird of the air may carry your voice, and a bird in flight may tell the matter." The "bird" in Solomon's metaphor doesn't have feathers or a beak. It is rather a confidant turned informant. A casual and "off the wall" comment about a superior or someone in authority ("the king. . .the rich") is made by one person in what was thought to be a private conversation. That "curse" is then taken by the confidant — a family member, co-worker, friend, fellow-Christian, etc. — and repeated to someone else, maybe even getting back to the person who was "cursed." Solomon's explanation: "a bird of the air may carry your voice, and a bird in flight may tell the matter." Hence the phrase, "A little birdie told me." What was said in private and intended to stay private has been broadcast in public. And word travels as swiftly as a bird. If you've ever asked somebody, "Where did you hear that?" and they responded, "A little birdie told me," you have encountered the situation Solomon describes up close and personal!

I wonder about people who preface statements with, "Can you keep a secret?" or "Don't tell anybody what I'm about to tell you." They ask you to do what they obviously aren't willing to do! We all need to learn that words we say have a way of getting out and getting around, even when spoken in confidence in the most private of settings. Our's is a chatty world where people love to talk, making it difficult to keep a secret. David Carver relates that while watching a movie, he couldn't hear the dialogue over the chatter of two women sitting in front of him. Unable to bear it any longer, he tapped one of them on the shoulder and said, "Excuse me. I can't hear." The woman replied sharply, "I should hope not. This is a private conversation" (Reader's Digest, 1/06, p 135). What will the little birdie tell? The possibility always exists it will tell anything and everything it hears you say. The safest policy is "do not curse," in your thought or bedroom or livingroom or anywhere in the whole house. The little birdie can't tell what you don't say.

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ