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Psalm 39:1, 4, 5

The tongue and heart, two organs at the centre of life. As this psalm shows, what goes on in the metaphorical heart eventually comes out through the tongue literally. Bridling the tongue and muzzling the mouth especially when faced with those who have it in for you seems an impossible way of controlling your emotions. Eventually there’s an explosion. Instead of trying the wilful biting of the lip in the face of provocation the psalm proposes a prayer: ‘Lord, let me know mine end, and the number of my days.’ It is when we realize how fleeting life is that we make the better decisions. ‘Life’s too short . . .’ for so much of the aggression to which the human heart is disposed. Our life span especially compared with eternity is like a shadow. Such knowledge should turn us to God again with ‘truly my hope is even in thee’ (v. 8). It is this that puts a zip on our lip or, as it says more eloquently here, ‘I became dumb, and opened not my mouth: for it was thy doing’ (v. 10)...

Publisher: SPCK - view more
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