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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | Psalm 19:7–14

The law of the Lord is perfect,
   reviving the soul;
the decrees of the Lord are sure,
   making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right,
   rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is clear,
   enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is pure,
   enduring forever;
the ordinances of the Lord are true
   and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
   even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey,
   and drippings of the honeycomb.

Moreover by them is your servant warned;
   in keeping them there is great reward.
But who can detect their errors?
   Clear me from hidden faults.
Keep back your servant also from the insolent;
   do not let them have dominion over me.
Then I shall be blameless,
   and innocent of great transgression.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
   be acceptable to you,
   O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. (NRSV)

Although there are many aspects of Psalm 19 that are powerful and beautiful, the last verse—verse 14—immediately transports me to the time when the pastors, lay liturgist, and Chancel or Morning Choirs gather before worship each Sunday. After lifting up a prayer for ourselves as worship leaders and a prayer for all those will who come through our doors that day, we all recite a slightly paraphrased version of Psalm 19:14 together: “May the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, our strength and our redeemer. Amen.” It took me several rounds of leading it to get the wording right, but I have now come to value this ritual for the hidden depths behind those simple words.

In Psalm 19, the author lifts up creation and God’s law as telling the glory of God, and in the verses we read today, we hear the author calling people to model their lives according to God’s word. This is—we hope!—a part of what is going on every time that we worship: that in the midst of our praise and our thanksgiving we are being shaped ever closer into the people that God has called us to be. This shaping is not a linear process, nor is it guaranteed: we must always test our words and lives against God’s word and Christ’s example. To me, Psalm 19:14 has become a reminder of that process of refinement that we all go through—continually praying that our words and lives are indeed acceptable in God’s sight.

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, for you are my strength and my redeemer—this day and all days. Amen.

Written by Matt Helms, Associate Pastor for Children and Family Ministry

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