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Context and Psalm 19:14

April 11, 2012

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight,
O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.
(Psalm 19:14 ESV)

This is a common prayer for preachers to pray before the congregation and privately before they preach. I remember hearing it in the United Methodist Church I was first saved in and in many PCA churches I have been in. I have heard it at conferences, in Baptist and Catholic churches alike, and in many college ministry contexts. The verse is everywhere…and for good reason. And, it should not just be a “preacher’s verse.”

Whenever you read scripture, especially common scripture memory verses like this, you will almost always gain a fuller sense of the verse when you see it in context (the larger portion of Scripture the verse finds itself in). This verse happens to come at the end of a Psalm. So, immediately we know it is important. Psalms often end with a summation verse or a verse that reflects the meaning and emotion of the Psalm. So, in this case we have 13 verses to reflect on.

Many may view verse 14 as not having many hooks to hang on. How do we know if words and meditations are actually acceptable? The Psalm gives us a simple rubric: are they founded on the Scriptures alone and to they flow from a deep saturation in them?

Some examples:

  • Verse 1 talks about how the heavens declare the glory of God and the sky his handiwork. Does the work of God in creation compel your meditations on his nature?
  • Verse 7 says the law of the Lord is perfect and revives the soul. It has the power to save people and renew people who are downcast.
  • Verse 8 says the commandments are pure and enlightens our eyes. The word of God literally gives us new eyes to see the world through.
  • Verse 10 speaks of how valuable the Scriptures are. They are more valuable than gold and sweeter than honey. The word of God has within it the power to rearrange our priorities of what is important in this life.

So, the next time you hear this prayer or pray it yourself ask…do I understand the context? Do I really understand that the word of God is to drive my speech and meditations? God has given us his word for a reason…to compel us to love, obedience, good works, and a deep and abiding sense of his gladness over us.

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