The Expository Files

Truth From The Mouths of Babes

In the eighth Psalm David speaks of the great love and goodness that God makes known throughout all the earth. In a few short poetic words, David takes our minds to the highest thought to which the mind of man can go: God. Echoing the same thought as his most famous statement on God's creation - "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork" (Ps. 19:1) - he states that His splendor and majestic name is known to all.

1 O LORD, our Lord, How majestic is Thy name in all the earth, Who hast displayed Thy splendor above the heavens!
2 From the mouth of infants and nursing babes Thou hast established strength, Because of Thine adversaries, To make the enemy and the revengeful cease.

The greatness of God is known to all, from the greatest to the least. It is known in all the earth and above the heavens, but is also made known in the mouths' of babes. This is true because they are unfettered from calculating minds that sometimes consider the implications so as to look out for self-interest before they confess the obvious truth. So children will often apply and state the truth that they have learned from their parents or other teachers in a much more ready and direct way than is comfortable for us.

This is exactly how Jesus Himself used this passage to rebuke the Pharisees. "But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that He had done, and the children who were crying out in the temple and saying, "Hosanna to the Son of David," they became indignant, and said to Him, "Do You hear what these are saying?" And Jesus said to them, "Yes; have you never read, 'OUT OF THE MOUTH OF INFANTS AND NURSING BABES THOU HAST PREPARED PRAISE FOR THYSELF'?" (Matt. 21:15,16)

The Pharisees were offended by the children's words. They got mad about it and asked Jesus if He knew what they were saying. Obviously they didn't think that Jesus' hearing was bad, but they are incredulous that He would actually accept the meaning of what the children were saying. Yes, Jesus would accept it because they clearly stated what was obvious and then sang it out - without thought of who would or would not like it.

Would this have been adults who did this, it would have been after a conscience decision to be bold. The children simply did it by nature. The ready acceptance and proclamation of truth is one of the qualities of children we must emulate. "And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, "Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matt 18:2,3)

We may not always like the directness that children exhibit, but we have certainly all experienced it. We shield ourselves from it by social convention or self interest. We rightly learn to hold our tongues, but some times we hold them too much. There are times when we do not speak the truth because we do not want to come near the rebuke that the truth automatically gives.

Paul had to deal with this when he wrote the Galatians a letter of rebuke. Was Paul getting on to them just to get on to them, or from some other low motive? They might have thought it, but we understand that Paul would speak only from the highest motives: love of God, love of truth, and enough love for them to bring them back to God and the truth. The Galatians would not automatically see it in this way. So Paul asked, "Have I therefore become your enemy by telling you the truth?" (Gal. 4:16) Paul had to conscientiously decide to speak the truth to them knowing that it might cause friction. But children often speak truth without a second thought.

We need to recognize truth from whatever mouth it comes, and also have the heart to speak it with a simple, childlike and trusting faith.

By Jay Horsley
From Expository Files 8.7; July 2001