Psalm 39. Foot & Mouth Disease.


Today’s Lectio Divina: Excerpts from Psalm 39. (MsgB)

I’m determined to watch steps and tongue so they won’t land me in trouble.

Let’s be gut honest here.

While it’s true that Satan tempts me to sin, offering me enticing red apples grown especially for me in his garden of evil, it’s my choice alone to partake or to pass on his juicy offers.

As a matter of fact, if truth be known, most of the trouble I’ve found myself in over the years has been self-inflicted. And while I don’t dispute the cunning power of the devil to rub my nose in my wretched sinfulness, I must admit that it was my own two feet that has so often taken me to the edge of the cliff and/or my own big mouth that has placed me on the edge of destruction.

As I see it, we fallen human beings have a real problem with foot & mouth disease! Maybe that’s why King David starts out his song of lament (Psalm 39) with a strong determination to watch his step and guard his tongue. Like me, he’s most likely found that there have been many days when he wasn’t watching where he was walking, and bam, David suddenly looked down and found that he’d stepped right into a big pile of doo-doo.

Or what about that time you and I find ourselves sitting with a group of friends or co-workers and the conversation turns into trash-talk? You know the kind of discussion I mean. A meeting that was meant for productive ideas suddenly evolves into a garbage pile of criticisms and complaints. And how easy it is for me to join the barrage of blabbering B.S., offering my mindless counsel on how awful this person or that person is?

Hey, let’s face it.

When left to my own devices, my feet can find the biggest pile of poo faster than most others. And my mouth? Wow. Can I big-talk my way through life! Pretending I know this or that. Exaggerating the facts. Elongating the short story. Fabricating truth and covering over the facts.

Yes sir, when I’m not carefully watching my feet and tongue, asking God to remind me of my ugly self-centered, self-promoting nature, I can grab that juicy apple out of Satan’s hand and munch it down in no time at all.

Maybe that’s why James, the brother of Jesus, was so adamant about controlling our human behavior as followers of Christ?  Remember what he wrote about controlling our tongues?

A bit in the mouth of a horse controls the whole horse. A small rudder on a huge ship in the hands of a skilled captain sets a course in the face of the strongest winds. A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything—or destroy it! It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell. (James 3: 3-6)

And what about James’ adamant instructions about where we place our feet?

So let God work His will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and He’ll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet. (James 4: 7-10)

So whether it be King David singing his heart out to God in the Psalms or James writing to his Christian brothers and sisters in the first-century, it’s apparent to me that God’s Word warns us regularly about our earthly struggles with foot & mouth disease. When left to my own devices, I will certainly make a mess, but when I allow God to direct my path and guide my words, the results will become much more edifying to God, myself, and those around me.

For His Name’s sake!

My prayer: Father, forgive me for falling prey to foot & mouth disease so easily. Place Your Holy Spirit firmly over my feet. Place Your words in my mouth. Allow me the wisdom to watch carefully where I step and weigh my sentences before I speak. As I do, I know the results will become much more heavenly. For Your name’s sake. Amen.

My questions to ponder: Am I willing, really willing, to become more intentional in avoiding foot & mouth disease today? What might it look like for me to slow down my walking speed so I can give more time and thought to the path I’m walking on? How can I slow down my speech, weighing more carefully what I’m about to say before it comes out of my mouth?

So what is God speaking to you today as you ponder the Psalms?


Over a 50-week period, you and I will take a deeper look at The Psalms: God’s Songbook of Prayers. In order to keep all the blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Contemplating the Psalms home page for ease of use. Keep in mind that one of the best ways to explore the on-going applications of this blog series is to walk alongside a biblically-based, Christ-centered spiritual director who is familiar with how to make material like this part of your overall spiritual formation in God. Many of our directors in our Sustainable Faith-Heartland network are available to companion you in your journey with Jesus. Click here for more info.

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