Psalm 39: Smile Again
February 17, 2022
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Leviticus 5-7, Psalm 39, Matthew 17:14-27, Acts 24
There are few things more provoking than someone acting in wicked foolishness—especially when they seem to get away with it. Perhaps you are facing some trial or trauma, and it is made worse by the “presence of the wicked.” Not only was what happened bad, but there are people who are wickedly misinterpreting what has happened, or they are misusing the situation for their own selfish gains.
It is then tempting to speak too hastily and make things worse. And so David put a “guard” on his mouth. Sometimes the right thing to do is just to bite your tongue. Sometimes the right thing to say is to say nothing. Perhaps there is something that is frustrating you. Before you fire off an angry email or text message, put a guard on your mouth. Say nothing, nothing at all.
But David found as he said nothing his anger actually increased. Not all anger is wrong. “In your anger do not sin.” Anger then has a particular propensity towards sin. Because it is hot with passion, it is easy “in our anger” to sin—even when the cause of your anger might originally be just. Wait before you speak. Give it twenty-four hours before you reply to that email.
As David finds himself not speaking, he has the time to listen. To think. And to pray. And what he prays for is that he might know just how brief his life is. This is true wisdom. Billy Graham was once asked by a group of students what was it that had most surprised him about life. He said that what had most surprised him about life was its “brevity.” Life is short. It goes quickly. To understand this, to feel this, to realize this, is wisdom. It prevents us from putting our trust in money (after all: who is going to get it when we are gone?). It makes us focus on the spiritual and the eternal. It teaches us to be careful with our conscience—because the time will come soon when we will stand before the judgment seat of Christ. And as he is silent and as he prays, he starts to “wait.”
It is a strange thing, but in life, often the rule is more haste, less speed. While he now begins to reflect on the brevity of life, that does not make him rush around like a headless chicken. He is waiting; he is hoping in the Lord. He wants to be saved from all his “transgressions.” He begins again to focus his life around what is truly important. If life is short, the answer is not to try to squeeze everything possible into it. The answer is to focus on the most important thing. As Jesus said, seek first the kingdom of God, and all these other things will be added to you as well.
David seems to realize that he is actually experiencing discipline from God. “Remove your stroke from me; I am spent by the hostility of your hand” (39:10). It is certainly not always the case that all distemper and suffering is because we are under God’s discipline. But could it be the case in your instance today? Is there something that you need to ask God for forgiveness for? And ask him to remove his hand of discipline that you may “smile again”?
There is nothing so miserable as a sinning Christian. A Christian cannot be happy when they sin. They sense they are grieving the Spirit within them, and it makes them sad. But there is great joy on offer for the Christian. Therefore, ask God to forgive your sins and to take away his hand of discipline, that you might find true happiness and “smile” again!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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