Goodly Words

21 “Naphtali is a hind released, he gives goodly words.”

In researching this verse, a variety of opinions were given for the meaning of this. The text itself even had unusual translations: For instance, the NIV translates it as “Naphtali is a doe set free that bears beautiful fawns,” which is very different than he gives goodly words. According to, “Some say it implied gentleness of character; others think it may have alluded to agility in battle or hastiness.”

According to Peter Pett’s Commentary on the Bible, “Naphtali has clearly been the surprise among the brothers. He is like a trapped hind which has been let loose, in that he has moved from being merely the quiet one to becoming a teacher of wisdom (see Proverbs 15:26; Proverbs 16:24). Wisdom teaching was well established in Egypt.

The beautiful song of Deborah in Judges 5:2-31 is attributed to Barak from Naphtali. Deborah called upon Barak to lead the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali against the Canaanite forces of Hazor (Judges 4-5).

So, how does all of this apply to us today? The tribe of Naphtali was small but agile, and they seemed to be good with words, whether in written or spoken form. In 1839, English author Edward Bulwer-Lytton wrote the famous adage, “The pen is mightier than the sword,” and he could very well have been thinking of passages such as this for reference.

Again, the Kingdom of God is made up of millions of different people who have gifts that others don’t have.

Writing and speaking are two such gifts, and two such gifts that we should use if we have them.

Some have neither of those gifts, and that’s fine too.

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