“I said, ‘I will guard my ways, Lest I sin with my tongue; I will restrain my mouth with a muzzle, While the wicked are before me. I was mute with silence, I held my peace even from good; And my sorrow was stirred up. My heart was hot within me; While I was musing, the fire burned. Then I spoke with my tongue:’”
There are times in life when words seem like a raging fire building within us and we are almost forced to speak. This can be positive, like when Jeremiah wrote of being so discouraged he no longer wanted to share the words of God with anyone, until those words became like a fire within him and he could no longer contain them. Or this can be negative, like when gossip burns within us, pleading to be passed on to others; or when in the midst of an argument, we lash out with hurtful words that shatter someone we love.
Perhaps we can learn something from the pen of David. He wrote, at those times he restrained himself by putting a muzzle on his tongue. I doubt David is speaking literally of a mechanism that restrained his mouth from moving. I think, instead, he set guidelines for his life that restricted him from saying foolish or hurtful things. We can do the same. The bible gives us some valuable guidelines which will help us control what comes out of our mouths. We can use the following verses like a muzzle, to keep us from sinning with our mouths.
Ephesians 4:29 “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.”
1 Peter 3:9 “. . . not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.”
Proverbs 11:13 “A talebearer reveals secrets, but he who is of a faithful spirit conceals a matter.”
Proverbs 15:1 “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
Questions for Psalm 39
- Has your tongue ever got you in trouble?
- Why is it especially important to watch what we say when unbelievers are present?
- David wants to know how short life is. Why is that important?
- Why is it important to know our own frailty?
- Knowing that life is brief, how can you live for eternity today?