sympathy, ‘weeping with people who weep.’—Rom. 12:15.
However, in view of the weakening effect of mourning and grief (Ps. 6:6, 7; Luke 22:45; Acts 21:13; 2 Cor. 2:6, 7), Christian sorrow is shown always to be tempered, balanced, and even overshadowed by hope and strength-giving joy. (Matt. 5:4; 1 Cor. 7:29, 30; 2 Cor. 6:10; compare Nehemiah 8:9-12.) Even in his day King David manifested a balanced, sensible and principled viewpoint as to mourning, so that, while the child conceived through his adulterous relationship with Bath-sheba was ill, David fasted and lay on the earth, seeking the true God in the child’s behalf. But, learning of the child’s death, David thereupon got up, washed, rubbed himself with oil, changed clothes, prayed to Jehovah, and then requested food and began to eat. In explaining his acts to his surprised attendants, he stated: “Now that he has died, why is it I am fasting? Am I able to bring him back again? I am going to him, but, as for him, he will not return to me.” (2 Sam. 12:16, 19-23) Later, however, he needed help from straight-speaking Joab to pull out of his state of deep grief over his son Absalom’s death.—2 Sam. 18:33; 19:1-8.
Though “all creation keeps on groaning,” the sufferings of the Christian are minor compared to the glorious hope ahead (Rom. 8:18-22; 1 Pet. 1:3-7), and the promise of the resurrection enables him not to “sorrow just as the rest also do who have no hope.”—1 Thess. 4:13, 14.
Mourning and fasting without obedience to Jehovah’s word are insincere and of no benefit. (Zech. 7:2-7) However, “sadness in a godly way makes for repentance to salvation.” Such sadness is the result of a person’s seeing a wrongdoing as a sin against God. It moves him to seek God’s forgiveness and to turn around from his wrong course. “But the sadness of the world produces death.” Although a person may be sad that his wrong was exposed and that this has meant loss to him, he has no desire to gain God’s forgiveness. (2 Cor. 7:10, 11) For example, Esau’s tears shed selfishly in hope of regaining his forfeited birthright had no effect on Isaac nor on God.—Heb. 12:16, 17.
FIGURATIVE AND PROPHETIC USE
Figuratively, even the land is represented as mourning due to devastations caused by invading armies or by a plague. (Jer. 4:27, 28; Joel 1:10-12; contrast Psalm 96:11-13.) In its desolation, the land would grow up in weeds and develop a neglected, uncared-for appearance, like that of a person who has not attended to his face, hair or clothing while in mourning. Similarly, land devastated by a plague upon the crops presents a mournful sight.
The “sign of the Son of man” and Christ’s revelation are to cause all the tribes of the earth to “beat themselves in lamentation,” or “in grief.” (Matt. 24:30; Rev. 1:7) Upon symbolical “Babylon the great” plagues—death, mourning and famine—are foretold to come “in one day,” causing those who have benefited from her to weep and mourn. (Rev. 18:2, 7-11, 17-19) By contrast, the New Jerusalem brings in conditions upon earth in which tears, death, mourning, outcry and pain pass away for all time.—Rev. 21:2-4.
While God designed this organ to receive and prepare food for the stomach, he created the human mouth for speaking also. All such speech should result in praise to Him. (Ps. 34:1; 51:15; 71:8; 145:21) The psalmist has declared that everything that has breath will praise Jehovah; therefore humans must use their mouths to do this if they desire to live. The apostle Paul explains that belief in God and his Son, even believing with the heart, is not enough. It has to be accompanied by public declaration in order to bring salvation.—Ps. 150:6; Rom. 10:10.
JEHOVAH PROVIDES MOUTH WITH WORDS
In harmony with his purpose and his right and power as Creator, Jehovah can put the proper words into the mouth of his servant. In the case of his prophets, he did so miraculously, by inspiration. (Ex. 4:11, 12, 15; Jer. 1:9) In one instance he caused even a dumb animal, an ass, to speak. (Num. 22:28, 30; 2 Pet. 2:15, 16) Today God’s servants can have his words in their mouths, not by inspiration, but from his inspired written Word, which equips them completely for every good work. (2 Tim. 3:16, 17) They no longer have to wait for Christ to come to provide the good news, nor do they need to go to some other source for what they preach. They have it right before them, ready to speak, as they are told: “The word is near you, in your own mouth and in your own heart.”—Rom. 10:6-9; Deut. 30:11-14.
CAN BRING LIFE OR DEATH
It follows that the proper use of the mouth is vital, and so Jehovah declares it to be. His Word says: “The mouth of the righteous one is a source of life.” (Prov. 10:11) The mouth, therefore, has to be guarded most carefully (Ps. 141:3; Prov. 13:3; 21:23), for stupid misuse of it can bring its owner to ruin. (Prov. 10:14; 18:7) God holds a person accountable for what that one brings forth from his mouth. (Matt. 12:36, 37) One may speak hastily, making a rash vow. (Eccl. 5:4-6) He may flatter another, to that person’s overthrow and his own condemnation. (Prov. 26:28) It is especially important to guard one’s mouth when before the wicked, because a slight deviation from what God’s wisdom directs his servant to say can bring reproach on God’s name and may cause that one’s death. (Ps. 39:1) Jesus gave a fine example of submissiveness to God’s will without complaint or any reviling of his wicked opposers.—Isa. 53:7; Acts 8:32; 1 Pet. 2:23.
The Christian must exercise constant vigilance, for he is imperfect; therefore he needs to watch his heart. Jesus said that it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a man, but what comes forth from the mouth, for “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Matt. 12:34; 15:11) The mind can help the heart and preserve the soul by not letting everything come forth from the mouth without thought, without considering the consequences. This requires the person to use his mind to apply the good things learned from God’s Word.—Prov. 13:3; 21:23.
A POWERFUL INSTRUMENT
Since the power of the mouth is great for good or bad, when Jehovah guides the mouth, great results are attained. He made Isaiah’s mouth “like a sharp sword,” and the words in Jeremiah’s mouth “a fire.” Jehovah backed up their prophetic words by his power and they came true. (Isa. 49:2; Jer. 5:14) On the other hand, it is dangerous to listen to anything that comes out of the mouth of a person known to be an apostate; it can bring a person to ruin.—Prov. 11:9.
God represents himself symbolically as having a mouth. None of his pronouncements are uttered to no purpose, in vain; they will be fulfilled to the smallest detail. (Isa. 55:10, 11) Therefore, those who desire life must live by every word proceeding from his mouth. (Deut. 8:3; Matt. 4:4) When on earth his Son Jesus Christ conformed his whole life to his Father’s words and now has universal authority granted him. As Jehovah’s king, he will strike the earth with “the rod of his mouth.” (Isa. 11:4) The vision of Revelation shows him smiting the nations with a long sword proceeding out of his mouth. (Rev. 19:15, 21) This figure of speech evidently represents the authority he will exercise in command of all Jehovah’s heavenly armies in ordering and supervising the warfare that results in the execution of God’s enemies.
“Mouth” is often used synonymously for speech or