Psalm 39

Scripture:  Psalm 39:5  You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand.

    My entire lifetime is just a moment to you; at best, each of us is but a breath.”

 

Observation-What does it say?  This psalm, written by David, is a reflection on the frailty of life.  In the first half of the psalm, he is reflecting on the futility of words and the importance of holding back the tongue.  The Matthew Henry commentary states, “When not able to separate from wicked men, we should remember they will watch our words, and turn them, if they can, to our disadvantage. Sometimes it may be necessary to keep silence, even from good words; but in general we are wrong when backward to engage in edifying discourse.”  Or in the words of Thumper, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.  Life is too short for our words to turn someone away from God’s love.  

 

Understanding-What does it mean?  Not too long ago, my older brother and his sons came to visit for about a week.  During his visit, we were having a conversation about how life has funny outcomes that we often don’t expect.  During the conversation, I made a comment about being more responsible than my brother.  As comments from brother to brother often do, there was some intention of bothering him.  But, what I thought was playful banter really hit him in a sensitive spot.  

 

Several days later, we were in Disneyland waiting in line for a ride and waiting far too long.  Tensions were beginning to rise and I decided I had waited long enough.  The whole thing fell apart.  At the next line, we got into a shoving match, which ended with him saying, “You’re not the boss of this family,” and me walking away.  Looking back at it, I could have bridled my tongue a little sooner.  I could have sought to lift him up instead of tearing him down.  And I wish I did.  

 

Sometimes, the greatest act of love to others and the best testimony we have for Jesus is to keep our mouths shut.  We are reminded by Paul in Romans 12, that love is an action, which includes our words.  “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves…Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another.” (Romans 12:9-10 & 14-16)


Life Application:  Jesus, in this tumultuous time, help me to be mindful of my tongue, which, like the rutter of a ship, has the ability to get me shipwrecked or take me to great places.  Help me to lift up, not tear down.  May the first words out of my mouth be ones that glorify you, not myself.  Most of all, help me learn when is a good time to be quiet.  For, “Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.” (Proverbs 17:28).

 
-Tyler Galloway