Journal Ps 120-121 (all references are from the ESV; changes in punctuation are mine)
Scripture: “Deliver me, O Lord, from lying lips, from a deceitful tongue.
What shall be given to you, and what more shall be done to you, you deceitful tongue?” Ps 120:2-3
Observation: There are times reading through the Scriptures (like the Bible Reading Plan this exercise is based upon) I must stop and think (or wonder) about what I am reading…
Analysis: I am sure that in the past I have read the above and thought it was talking about other folks, folks that oppose or are antagonistic to me, i.e., THEIR lying tongue, not mine.
Today, I wonder whether I got that right.
What has popped in my memory is James:
- “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds…” James 1:2
- “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart (lies to himself), this person’s religion is worthless…” James 1:26
- “…but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil…” James 2: 8
Why is David affirming in Ps 120:1 that he can call out to God and can be confident of an answer? “In my distress I called to the Lord and He answered me…” and then berates himself, identifying “deceitful lips and a lying tongue…”
I think that David can affirm God’s lovingkindness because if there is one guy that understands sin before God and it stops with the face in the mirror, it is David.
I am sure that someone can find a reference in the Bible that “blames” other people—but I will also bet that they are few and have a particular context to overcome. However, the Bible will also indicate that these “blamers” are short-sighted and not truthful: “…he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.” (James 1:23b-24)
People are like that. It is someone else’s fault things are like they are with me. “If it wasn’t for (insert name(s) here), walking in righteousness would be easy.” I have a friend, a brother in the Lord, who introduced me to the chiding comment, “You made me sin, Rick.”
I think the references above means that David isn’t falling for that, that some outside influence made him sin. “Keep me from lying lips (mine) and a deceitful tongue (mine)—don’t let me lie to myself or to engage in deceitful self-speech.”
At least, that thinking makes sense to me and I don’t think I am reaching too far. It is, folks, what a personal journal is good for.
Prayer: Father, bring men into my life that I can bounce these thoughts off of. In a multitude of counselors there is safety, but in discussing God’s Word it can go hours and hours of bouncing back and forth. How long did it take for the Gospel to be coherent and become a doctrine? If I look at Paul alone, 17 years.
In any case, keep me from lying lips and a deceitful tongue. When I sin, it is me alone and that is against YOU first, O God.