Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Psalm 39

Ezekiel 17:1-10

Romans 2:12-16

I said, “I will guard my ways

    that I may not sin with my tongue;

I will keep a muzzle on my mouth

    as long as the wicked are in my presence.”

[Psalm 39:1 New Revised Standard Version]

Yes, I skipped Monday, February 29. You could say, I “leaped” over the day. There was no other reason than the fact that after a very active weekend my brain was not firing on all cylinders. But I made this commitment to myself to pursue this effort of writing a reflection each day during Lent and as we go further into the season, I am finding the challenge at times grueling. So I skip a day here and there, not because I want to, but because I need to.

I can console myself with two thoughts:

(1)  Even God rested on the seventh day, so as God’s creature, so can I.

(2)  I do serve a God of grace and grace gives me the permission to take the break.

I pray that those of you who have come to expect a daily offering will also not judge me harshly, but exercise the same forgiveness that I trust God has given me. There will, I’m sure, be a few more lapses down the road and I don’t intend to apologize for each one. Know, however, that I am committed to this endeavor, and with God’s help I commit to forging ahead with a minimum of interruptions.

Also, by way of explanation, I am switching back to the New Revised Standard Version for a while. I am a creature of habit, and reading paraphrased accounts such as The Message, while a welcome distraction, takes me out of my comfort zone a little more often than I care to be. And my wife and I both agree, that when it comes to the Psalms (my selected reflection reading for today), we can’t appreciate the beauty of theirr poetic and lyric expression in any other form but the NRSV. 

If you’ve read this far you’re wondering by now whether I’m just stalling for time and when am I going to get to the actual heart of my reflection. I will, but I thought all this prologue was important to give you an occasional glimpse into how my mind works.

So here is the essence of my meditation for today.

I will guard my ways

                                  that I may not sin with my tongue

I came across this quote from Augustine in his exposition of this psalm: For it is not without reason that the tongue is set in a moist place, but because it is so prone to slip. 


The author of the letter of James in the New Testament spent nearly an entire chapter reflecting on the perils of the tongue. He called it, “a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” [James 3:8b]

And there are endless references to the hazards of the tongue in literature.  

Words are both powerful and can be misinterpreted. They can be used to build up and tear down. They can both solve problems and create more problems. They can both sooth and inflame. A person is literally what he/she thinks and says, his character being the complete sum of all his words. To make our words most effective…talk to God.  Only God gives meaning to life. And we need to be reminded sometimes of how brief this life is so that we can get refocused on the things that really matter.

Published by pastorallende

Retired Bishop of the Northeastern Ohio Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). Social justice and immigration reform advocate. Micah 6:8. Fluent in English and Spanish. I enjoy music and sports.

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