Date: Tuesday, May 20
Scripture: Psalm 19
Verse: Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to you, Lord, my rock and my redeemer. (Psalm 19:14)
Many years ago a student in about 4th grade approached me after a worship time during our children’s ministry. He told me he didn’t understand why we were singing “bad words” in church. Without ever saying the words, he was able to finally tell me he was troubled by one of the songs we had just done. It contained an emphatic praise which began with “O my God.” This 10-year-old had been taught never to say that, and he wondered why it was OK to sing it in church. I tried to convince him, and I’m not sure I was successful, that the song was using those words properly, but when they are said to anyone other than God, they are wrong.
You may know Psalm 19:14 well. Preachers, including me, often use a version of this verse before beginning their sermons. But this is so much more than a pre-sermon prayer. This entire psalm is about how “Heaven is declaring God’s glory,” although no words are used (verses 1-4). Then, in verses 7-13, we read how the word of God is perfect and right. Then verse 14 comes, and it expresses the psalmist’s desire for his speech and thought to be in alignment with the praises of creation, and the word of God.
Too often our focus on avoiding bad words causes us to miss other harmful speech. We can often speak evil without using any “bad words.” Whenever our speech tears down rather than builds up; whenever we lie to impress others, whenever we talk about someone behind their back, whenever we lash out in anger, in attack, in hate rather than love — we are out of sync with God’s word. So we pray for the right words every day, not just before a sermon.
Prayer: Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to you, Lord, my rock and my redeemer. Amen.
Action: Play a word game today — a crossword puzzle, the Jumble, a crypto quote, Scrabble, Words with Friends, etc.
Respond: Have you ever had to have a conversation like I did — convincing someone that “bad words” used that way aren’t bad? Or maybe the opposite conversation?
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