Psalm 19:14 May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight,
O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.
It is very difficult to choose just one part of this Psalm to write on, because it is so loaded with glorious truth. The first verse is justly famous, and it would be a fitting label for the images that are coming from the James Webb Space Telescope, or even for some of the sky and cloud pictures I take. Then there’s the section from verse seven and following that has been well set to music, to engrain the truth expressed into people’s hearts and minds. Then the last three verses of the Psalm deal with sin and our capacity for deceiving ourselves into ignoring it. That’s why I finally settled on this last verse, because it is an appropriate prayer not only when reading this Psalm but at all times in every situation. As Jesus pointed out, it’s not what we put into our bodies so much as it is what comes out of them that defiles us – and He wasn’t talking about digestive elimination. (Matthew 15:10-20) David is here talking about words and the thoughts that generate them. Just as God spoke the universe into existence, (Genesis 1) our words have tremendous potential, both for good and for evil. Jesus famously said, “I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:36-37) That doesn’t mean never to speak; language is an essential part of our humanity. It does however mean that we are to submit our words to God even before they come out of our mouth, just as David prays here. Words are a powerful gift from God, and we are to be faithful stewards of them just as we are of all His other gifts.
This is particularly appropriate to me since I am a man of words. I sometimes say that I make my living with words, as a school teacher and as a pastor. I haven’t consciously prayed this verse daily up until now, but I’m feeling it would be a good idea to do so. I’ve just finished a book that popped some bubbles about some well-known saints of the past century whom I had admired – and still admire – greatly. None of us are perfect! When words are such a big part of my life, I have all the more reason to focus on keeping my words submitted to my Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. I have quite a track record of hurting people with words carelessly spoken, and as Jesus said, I will have to answer for that. I am seen as an oddity because I preach in Japanese and English together, but that linguistic ability means nothing if the content isn’t from God. I am certainly careful what I say from the pulpit, but I must be more careful what I say in my daily interactions, because they form the vast majority of my influence on other people, and I want to represent Christ and nothing less. My wife Cathy takes the brunt of my careless words, and I need to do better about that. I have shown myself to be very capable of wounding others with my words, and I cannot depend on myself not to do it again. I need to keep growing as an accurate conduit for what God wants to say, so that His perfect will may be accomplished through me for His glory.
Father, thank You for this reminder. It has certainly focused and put a point on what You were already indicating that I was to speak on this coming Sunday. I ask for clear guidance and anointing as I prepare the notes for that message, but more than that I ask for You to enable me to put this truth into consistent practice, not deceiving myself but applying Your truth for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!