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January 19th, 2009 at 9:35 am

Psalm 119:13: With My Lips I Declare

One of my favorite verses in the Bible is found in Paul’s letter to the Colossians, chapter 3, verse 16, where he says:

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Colossians 3:16).

Due to some vagueness in the grammar of the verse it is not certain whether “singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” stands alone or whether it modifies “teaching and admonishing;” that is, whether the singing is the means by which the teaching and admonishing take place, or whether the two phrases represent two separate ideas.

In either case it is clear that we are to teach and admonish each other, and this teaching and admonishing comes about by letting the word of Christ dwell in us richly. My point? When the Word of Christ dwells in us we have an obligation to “let it out.” Yes, we are to “store it up” and “treasure it” it. The Word only ever comes to make sense as we do that. But we do not store it up merely that we may bask in it. We are to share what we know. As God illuminates our hearts to the truth and meaning of His Word we are then to become His instruments in bringing that Word to others.

It is spiritually dangerous to hoard the Word of God. When we do that we train our conscience to be immune to its demands. We become numb to that very Word which brought us life. We get spiritually fat and lazy. We become useless.

In Psalm 119:13 it says “With my lips I declare all the rules of your mouth.” Let’s put verse 13 into the flow of the “beth” stanza in this acrostic psalm:

(9) How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.
(10) With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments!
(11) I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
(12) Blessed are you, O Lord; teach me your statutes!
(13) With my lips I declare all the rules of your mouth.

When we have stored up the Word of God in our hearts and when He has illuminated it within, the right and natural thing to do is to “declare it” with our lips. It is selfish not to. It is presuming upon the mercy of God not to. We must.

In Psalm 40 David says a similar thing (verses 8-10):

(8)I delight to do your will; O my God your law is within my heart.”
(9)I have told the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation;
behold, I have not restrained my lips, as you know, O Lord.
(10) I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart;
I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation;
I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation.

In our worship yesterday (January 18, 2009) we were talking about the image of shepherding, and about Jesus as the Good Shepherd, exploring how the shepherd knows, feeds, protects, cares for and guides his sheep. How does he do this? Directly as he makes his word and will clear to us? Yes. Indirectly as ordained shepherds open up the word of God? Yes, that too. Through each and every one of us as we teach and admonish one another, as we instruct and encourage one another? Yes, by all means, that too.

Each and every one of us have a responsibility to know and understand the Scripture not only that we may grow in it but that we may help others grow in it too. We never know when and how we may be called upon to share of the good deposit stored up within.

We must not fail to declare with our lips the good things God has done, the truth of His person, the truth of His work through His Son and our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Back in the letter of Colossians again we find the Apostle Paul encouraging the Colossian Church to pray for him that God would open a door to the word and when He does that Paul would be able to make it clear. Then he asks the Colossians to be ready and waiting themselves to whatever opportunity to speak about the message of Christ to others. As he says:

Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person (Colossians 4:5-6).

May we be ready and willing.

“With my lips I declare all the rules of your mouth.”


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