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13 “Their throat is an open tomb; With their tongues they have practiced deceit”; “The poison of asps is under their lips”;


Verses 13 to 18 describe the sinfulness of man by several parts of the human speech mechanism (throat, tongue, lips, and mouths) showing that he is thoroughly depraved in what he espouses. This section moves from the general description of the universal sin of man to the particular, portraying of the sin in man. It exposes the conduct and depravity of mankind.

Non-Christians betray their status with God when they open their mouths (3:13-14). Paul takes these sins of speech and pools quotations from three passages from the Old Testament demonstrating mankind’s sins of speech.

The seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth indictments are against God’s standards in communication systems.

“Their throat [larynx] is an open [standing open] tomb;

This phrase is a quotation from Psalm 5:9.

This is the seventh indictment against the sinfulness of mankind.

In the Old Testament Psalm 5:9 portrays flatterers who serve themselves rather than those they flatter. For their own selfish ends, they flatter in order to devour those they soft-soap.

Mankind’s speech is as corrupt as an open grave. The words “is open” mean stands open—they are graves permanently open, displaying the corruption of death. An open grave carries a horrible stench. Non-Christians are spiritually dead. The idea of the openness of this grave is that it is prepared to consume those who come to it.


A foul heart produces profane speech.


If we open a grave, it reveals the corruption of death. If we look at human speech, we see the corruption of the heart. The smell of a dead human corpse is awful, yet that is what we smell like to God. Character manifests itself in speech. Those spiritually dead to God produce spiritually dead thoughts, such as praising others to serve themselves. David said that sin can lead to self-deceit and self-flattery (Ps 36:1-3). This is an appeal to the dark side of human nature.

Prov 10:32, The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable, But the mouth of the wicked what is perverse.

Prov 15:2, 28, 2 The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, But the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness. 28 The heart of the righteous studies how to answer, But the mouth of the wicked pours forth evil.

Mt 12:34-35, 34 Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.

Mt 15:18, But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man.

Jas 3:6, And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell.

The state of the throat and tongue can reveal much about our physical health. The state of our speech reveals much about our spirituality.