The Cry of a Heart // Psalm 39

I said to myself, ‘I will watch what I do and not sin in what I say. I will hold my tongue when the ungodly are around me.’ But as I stood there in silence—not even speaking of good things—the turmoil within me grew worse. The more I thought about it, the hotter I got, igniting a fire of words: ‘Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered—how fleeting my life is. 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.’
— Psalm 39:1-5 (NLT)

Sometimes I find it hard--really hard if I'm honest--to be silent when all I want to do is speak. Whether it's injustice, misunderstanding, or a desire to stand up for myself, remaining quiet when speech feels necessary but doesn't seem wise is an incredibly hard thing to do.

The tongue is the hardest thing to control; James 3 talks significantly about its power and pitfall. David found it hard to control as well, and maybe you have too. Let's explore that today!

In this Psalm, David is trying so hard to not speak. You get a sense that he wants to but understands that speaking to those around him that are in contrast to his ways of life may not be smart. Perhaps he feels he has every right to? If they are ungodly and acting in ways that are contrary to God when around him, certainly there would be the desire to say something, right?! Furthermore, he's the king so if doesn't have the "right" then who does?

David senses he should back his words. But he talks about how the harder he tries to remain quiet, the greater the turmoil grows within. That's not too hard to imagine. I've, at times, felt the desire to speak boil up within me as I tried to remain silent. It's not easy!

What's so interesting is what David did as he felt the urge to speak grow within him. He wasn't sure he could hold words within anymore so he speaks. But not the words he was fighting to keep down. Instead, David chose to share words that would edify rather than words that would tear down.

He breaks into a prayer! He reminds himself of who he is in comparison of who God is, and how fleeting his life is. He puts his situation into perspective. He may want momentary satisfaction in sharing his words to another, but instead, he realizes the value in seeing the bigger picture. Such an easy and practical tip, which I love!

May you and I both be reminded in our moments similar to this--when we want to speak but probably shouldn't--to instead use our words in prayer and praise. If you find yourself struggling to hold your tongue, remind yourself of who God is and the bigger picture.