You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that takes his name in vain.
The Third Commandment shows man at the head of the material creation with the crowning glory of intelligent speech, and, as a social being, possessing the power of speech as the highest instrument of his social nature. God reveals Himself to him by word, by name, as to a speaking being, making language a bond of union between Him and man. God commands him to use this great gift in His worship, in honouring Him.
1. The tongue is the glory of man, and the glory of the tongue is to voice the praises of God. All nature praises God as it obeys His laws. Man stands at the head of creation to take up its many notes of praise and give them intelligent utterance. He stands thus not as a single individual, a great High Priest, but as a race whose myriad voices are to join and mingle in a vast chorus of intelligent and harmonious praise. We are to speak of Him, and to Him, with adoration. He is our Creator, Preserver, Governor, and Judge. We are to speak of Him, and to Him, with love and praise. Our lips should quiver with emotion when we speak of Him who is our Father and our Saviour. We are to speak to Him in His worship, and of Him to each other, only in such a way as shall promote His worship in our own hearts and in the hearts of others.
2. The command is in the prohibitory form. Man has broken this law, and is prone to break it. His voice is silent often when it should be praising God. A man uses the name of God as an exclamation of surprise at some trivial thing or assertion of another, or to sustain some unimportant statement of his own. Sometimes a story is dull, and the story-teller seasons it with a few oaths; or some joke is without point, and so a curse is used to awaken a laugh. Man calls God to make sport for him. A man has become accustomed to exaggerate or to speak falsely, and, conscious that others hesitate to believe him, he continually calls upon the truth-loving God to witness to his lies. Sometimes he becomes heated in argument, or angry under contradiction, or in a quarrel, and he calls upon God to curse him if he is not right, or in his anger he calls upon God to curse the one who irritates him. Sometimes he so loses control of himself that curses pour out of his lips as dense smoke out of a chimney.
(F. S. Schenck.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.