Today’s Text of Encouragement:
The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in Him. The Lord is good unto them that wait for Him, to the soul that seeketh Him.”
Lamentations 3: 24, 25
King James Version
Today’s Text for Study:
“O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall show forth Your praise.”
Psalm 51: 15
“Why God Loved David” – Part XXIII
“Words set things in motion. I’ve seen them doing it. Words set up atmosphere, electrical fields, charges.”
Toni Cade Barnbara
The Writer on Her Work (1980)
How do I use the words I speak or write to uplift those in my life?
“God wove a web of loveliness,
Of clouds and stars and birds,
But made not anything at all
So beautiful as words.”
“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my firm impenetrable Rock and my Redeemer.”
Psalm 19: 14
I love our study text for today. In The Message Bible, Psalm 51: 15 reads, “Unbutton my lips, dear God, I’ll let loose with Your praise.” This brings to my mind such a fascinating visual image. I don’t know if this ever happened to you when younger, but I distinctly remember my mother, who was an accomplished seamstress, using several sewing references when asking me to be careful with what came out of my mouth. Here are just two phrases I heard more than once as a young girl, “Zip your lip” and “button your mouth.” You can count on the fact that this instruction was given to me when my mother was very desirous that I kept my big mouth shut.
Interestingly, in our study text today, David asked God for a favor and then he made a promise. David told God to be the person to open his mouth. David wanted to speak when God wanted him to speak. What’s more, as noted in Psalm 19: 14, David wanted God to provide heavenly censorship of what he spoke and what he meditated or thought about.
This passage in Psalm 19 got me to thinking about what David’s son, Solomon, penned in Proverbs 4: 23 -24 (K.J.V.), “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Put away from thee a forward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee.” I’d like to share the way Proverbs 4: 24 reads in the Amplified Bible, “Put away from you false and dishonest speech, and willful and contrary talk put far from you.” The Message Bible, this same passage reads, “Don’t talk out of both sides of your mouth, avoid careless banter, white lies, and gossip.” WOW!
Now, I’d like to dig deeper, as we frequently do here in the Garden, and look at two words. One which I used -- “censorship”. In the days of the Roman Empire, there was a Roman censor, authorized to examine material in literature or plays, who was given permission to remove or suppress anything they considered to be objectionable. It is quite easy to see that if the person in this position were a power-monger or could be bought off or was easily swayed by one opinion or another, their act of censorship could certainly be called into question.
With this background, I want to look at a word found in Proverbs 4: 23, where Solomon, the wise man, is giving very prudent advice regarding the words we speak. The word Solomon uses in Proverbs 4: 23, when he tells us we should guard what is in our heart is the word “issues.” It is from our core area in our being where Solomon says the “issues” flow out. I went to the Hebrew translation of “issues” and found an even more enlightening glimpse into what the Bible tells us. The normal way I might define the word “issue” is something that, “goes forth from, comes out of, or is delivered from,” and while this is true, the Hebrew offers a much more expansive view of the word “issues.” I found this word also means, “boundary,” as in a geographical boundary.
So let’s take a moment to combine all the knowledge we have gained from God’s Word regarding David’s request for his words to be God’s Words. Beginning with our study text in Psalm 51: 15, David asks God to be the censor, the button on his lips. Then he tells God, only unbutton or unzip my lips when You want me to speak. But David goes a step further. After all God has done for David, after all he has been pardoned for, after all the grace and mercy God has bestowed on David, and finally after the righteousness of God that has replaced the filthy rags on David, this promise is made by David, “What comes out of my mouth will do one thing – it will show forth Your praise!”
Here’s the interesting thing, while we often think of the suppression of free speech when we hear the word censorship, David’s growing relationship with his Father, inspired him to ask God to put a heavenly censor on his words and to keep him, in all he spoke or wrote, within the boundary of praise – a boundary David was grateful had become the guiding fence around his life.
I want to tell you why I love today’s text so much and why it hit home with me. Several weeks ago, I read a very nice article about some well-known individuals in popular society. I thought this was a delightful story. When I finished, I scrolled down on my computer and I must tell you, I could not continue reading. The comments people had written were so vile, so caustic, so cruel – I found the verbiage horrid – something I can assure you I didn’t desire to fill my mind or heart with. People will say, “Well, we live in a new day of the internet where people can write ‘Anonymously’, so they just say anything they want.” Well, according to the Bible, “anonymous” trash is still trash. “Anonymous” words of cruelty are still cruel. “Anonymous” words of toxin still poison the heart. From the issues of our hearts, if not censored by heaven, boundaries are broken and what was once only a thought becomes words and turns into actions.
If you don’t believe me, ask David, for in the Bible, he makes it clear, as does his son Solomon, that what was once only a thought, can become expressed in words and then carried out in actions. The lustful “thoughts” of David toward Bathsheba, became “words” of order to Joab the king’s battle general, and the order turned into “action” when the opposing army murdered Uriah, on behalf of David, I might add! Thoughts. Words. Actions.
This is why David asked God to censor his words. And I asked myself, “What if I did the same?” What if every word you and I spoke, what if every word we wrote, had only one purpose – to praise our Father and to be grateful for all He does for us? Wouldn’t we live in a different world!
“A word spoken in due season, how good is it.”
Proverbs 15: 23
“Words which do not give the light of Christ increase the darkness.”
Praise and Thanksgiving
“O Lord, thou hast me searched and known:
Thou know’st my sitting down
And rising up. Yea all my thoughts
Afar to thee are known.
My soul, praise, praise the Lord!
O God, thou art great:
In fathomless works
Thyself thou dost hide.
Before thy dark wisdom
And power uncreate,
Man’s mind, that dare praise thee,
In fear must abide.
(Based on Psalm 139)
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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