By Debbie Christopher ~~I'm sure you have heard or seen the meme, “Lord, please keep your arm around my shoulder and your hand over my mouth.” The meme is often connected to Psalm 19:14, and although it makes us snicker, we also recognize the importance of this thought in our day to day lives. But, is this verse really saying, “Lord, please guard my mouth so nothing bad comes out"? I was planning on discussing this meme today...until...
As I prepared to carry this forward, I did my regular “digging in’ (See Digging for Nuggets) and studied the entire Psalm that contains this verse. Sure enough, the new information and insight changed my train of thought and moved my original train of thought to a Part Two to be posted in a couple of weeks.
As I began the ‘digging in’ process, I read the entire Psalm and pulled out two of my favorite commentaries---cited at the conclusion of this post. What I discovered was that Psalm 19 is a prayer of David, and verse 14 is the conclusion of his prayer.
After acknowledging the greatness of God (vss 1-6) and recognizing his own sinfulness, David prays for forgiveness and the strength to refrain from future sins that might overtake him (vss 7-13). He wraps up his heartfelt prayer by pleading that the words of his prayer be acceptable to his Redeemer... (The Treasury of David) Truly a prayer from the heart.
The Wiersbe Bible Commentary makes a very interesting---and challenging---point regarding verse 14. David wanted to present his words as a sacrifice of praise and forgiveness. Just as the Children of Israel wanted the sacrifices brought to the Tent of Worship to be acceptable to Yahweh, David wanted his words to be acceptable as well.
In this Psalm, David is not pleading that the words he speaks to others in his day-to-day grind be acceptable---although that is a Biblical principle taught in other passages---but that his heart---his prayer of repentance and commitment---be acceptable to his Redeemer.
This causes us to say, ‘ouch’, does it not!?
Before we move to passages that admonish us to guard our words to others, let’s consider the sincerity of the words we bring before God in prayer. I think that too often our prayers don’t ‘match up’ to the heart of David.
I encourage each of us to examine the words of our prayers. Do they acknowledge the greatness of God? Do they recognize our sinfulness and vulnerability? Are we truly offering up words that are acceptable as a sacrifice to the holy, merciful, creator of the universe?
Let the words of my prayer be acceptable to my Redeemer!
Be watching for ‘Part two: May my Words to Others’...
Charles Haddon Spurgeon (updated by Roy H. Clarke), The Treasury of David. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishing, 1997.
Warren W. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary (OT). Colorado Springs: David C. Cook Publishing, 2007.