Psalm 19: Words and Thoughts

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Psalm 19

The heavens declare the glory of God,
    and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
    and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words,
    whose voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out through all the earth,
    and their words to the end of the world.
In them he has set a tent for the sun,
    which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber,
    and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.
Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
    and its circuit to the end of them,
    and there is nothing hidden from its heat.

The law of the Lord is perfect,
    reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure,
    making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right,
    rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure,
    enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is clean,
    enduring forever;
the rules of the Lord are true,
    and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold,
    even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
    and drippings of the honeycomb.
11 Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
    in keeping them there is great reward.

12 Who can discern his errors?
    Declare me innocent from hidden faults.
13 Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins;
    let them not have dominion over me!
Then I shall be blameless,
    and innocent of great transgression.

14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
    be acceptable in your sight,
    Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

Still Standing – A Study of a Roadside Tree #4 | Outside Elgin, TX | January 2023

We’ve been looking at how little things can have a big impact at St. John, where I used to serve as senior pastor and now attend as a happy member. Pastor Mark Wuggazer has opened our eyes to some important realities: Our thoughts inform our words. Our words impact our actions. And our actions become habits. The key thought is that thoughts and words matter. That’s sometimes less obvious than the idea that our actions matter.

People like to claim that they cannot control their thoughts. But we must let go of that excuse. For that is what it is: an excuse to indulge our flesh in sinful imaginations, schemes, and fantasies. Scripture tells us to take every thought captive to Christ. (cf. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5) Romans 12:1-2 states,

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Then come the words. Carole Mayhall wrote a book, Words that Hurt, Words that Heal. In it she makes the point that words can have profound impact for good or ill. God calls us to speak words that are fountains of life. (cf. Proverbs 10:11) That is at the root of this prayer.

What better example do we have than Jesus as one who spoke words of life.

“Neither do I condemn you. Go, and sin no more,” he says to the woman caught in adultery. (John 8:11)

“What do you want me to do for you?” he asks the blind man. (Mark 10:51)

“If you would ask, I would give you living water,” he says to the woman at the well. (John 4:10)

“And surely, I will be with you always, even to the end of the age,” he promises his followers. (Matthew 28:20)

St. Paul urges us: “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8)

Not long ago a friend offered this suggestion to overcome insomnia. I had shared that I will pray the Lord’s prayer again and again, or sing/pray the Agnus Dei, or a favorite hymn. His suggestion: When you wake up in the middle of the night think of all the things for which you’re thankful, things that bring you true joy. I wonder now if the glory of the heavenly witness, the beautiful truth of God’s word, the blessed promises of Scripture, and the gift of God’s forgiveness and redemption should fill my mind, not only when I cannot sleep, but throughout the day. And then, my words would surely be gracious and full of life as well.

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