Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer. Psalms 19:14 (NASB)
I have spent most of my life doing public speaking of one kind or another. Early on I came across today’s verse and it became the short prayer I pray before I take the stage. Over the years I had forgotten that the verse comes at the end of Psalm 19. You have probably heard or read this Psalm. Here it is:
Psalms 19 (NIV)
1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
3 They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
4 Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
5 It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
6 It rises at one end of the heavens
and makes its circuit to the other;
nothing is deprived of its warmth.
7 The law of the Lord is perfect,
refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
8 The precepts of the Lord are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.
9 The fear of the Lord is pure,
The decrees of the Lord are firm,
and all of them are righteous.
10 They are more precious than gold,
than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
than honey from the honeycomb.
11 By them your servant is warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.
12 But who can discern their own errors?
Forgive my hidden faults.
13 Keep your servant also from willful sins;
may they not rule over me.
Then I will be blameless,
innocent of great transgression.
14 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight,
Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.
This Psalm tracks the path of faith that many of us have traveled. I grew up in a place where you can see the stars at night. Oh, I see stars now. But, it they are the handful of really bright ones that can punch through the background light produced by a city of a million people. As a boy, I remember seeing the Milky Way stretch into the night sky and meteors flash in a brilliant ending as they entered the atmosphere. I remember thinking about the size of the universe and how majestic it appeared. I can imagine the effect was even greater for the person who wrote this Psalm living in the desert with no artificial light to mask the view of the night sky. But, as the Psalmist tells us, we can see the majestic display and the clockwork that allowed the writer to time the days, months, seasons and years. We can admire the creation, but we cannot know the creator simply by looking at the night sky.
The psalmist goes on to remind that the God who made the magnificent universe and set it into order has also made us and gave us the potential for order in our lives. One big difference is, unlike the stars and planets, people have a free will. The sun can’t decide not to rise (or as the science-minded person would remind me, the earth can’t decide to stop turning and stop revolving around the sun). The sun didn’t learn about light and the earth didn’t learn about gravity. They just do what they were made to do.
We, on the other hand, can choose to follow the path created for us. That isn’t a mistake or a flaw in God’s creation, it is His intent. That’s where God’s word come in. We see in verses 7 through 11 that’s God’s law is good for refreshing our soul and making us wise. God’s word endures forever. It is sweet to us when we follow it and warns us when we don’t. We are wired to respond to the Bible, to hear God’s wisdom and respond to His teaching. If we take the time to read His word, God will use it to change our lives.
The psalmist doesn’t stop there. We see the universe and it gives us an idea of the greatness of the God who created it. In the same way, I might see a painting or a piece of art or grand architecture and have an appreciation for the brilliance of the one who made it. God’s word will tell me what He has done and what he expects. In the same way, I might read about the one who painted the masterpiece or built the monument. That would give me insight into who they are and what they know about art or architecture. It might even help be become a better artist or architect. But, I would only know about the person, I wouldn’t know the person.
That leads us to the final section of this Psalm. The writer recognizes the same problem. We can see God’s greatness in His creation and we can see his standards and expectations in his word. But, to be the people God made us to be, we must go even further. We must know God. The creator of the universe. The one who set everything in order also wants to us to know Him and allow Him to set our lives in order. But, unlike the stars and planets, we need to exercise our free will and ask God to keep us spinning, to check our orbit, and to teach us about the gravity that holds us to Him. If we do, we will become blameless and innocent of great transgression.
What began as a simple prayer before I speak is really the conclusion of this short psalm telling us how to live in a way that pleases God. The challenge for me, as I begin each day and each encounter, is to ask God to make the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart acceptable in His sight. Make that your conscious effort this week too.