Psalm 39 was written by David for Jeduthan, a Chief Musician. I wonder what the melody sounded like. Was the music mellow? Light? Heavy? Warm? Harsh? Sweet? Soft? All we have are the lyrics as recorded in Psalm 39. How would you sing the words in verses 1-7?
I said to myself, “I will watch what I do and not sin in what I say.
I will hold my tongue when the ungodly are around me.”
But as I stood there in silence—not even speaking of good things—the turmoil within me grew worse. The more I thought about it, the hotter I got, igniting a fire of words:
“Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered—how fleeting my life is.
You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand. My entire lifetime is just a moment to You; at best, each of us is but a breath.”
We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing. We heap up wealth, not knowing who will spend it.
And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in You.
Quite a song of introspection! I will watch what I do and not sin in what I say. As the lyricist watched what he did and kept silent in front of the ungodly, a great turmoil rose up inside him, and he felt like he was about to explode. Isn’t it hard to “zip the lip” when we feel fully justified in defending ourselves or our cause to those who minimize or mock our faith, morals, or ideas?
David was trying to keep his flesh under control. He was watching (guarding) what he said and did in front of the ungodly, who, in turn, were watching him. He knew that if the Lord reminded him of the brevity of his life on the earth, he could more effectively bridle his tongue. My entire lifetime is just a moment to You… We are merely moving shadows, he wrote. That perspective seemed to hold his emotions in check and prevent a volcano of malicious words from erupting all over an audience of people who desperately needed to know his God.
While David watched what he said, and the ungodly watched him, what was God watching? The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right; His ears are open to their cries for help (Psalm 34:15 NLT). Furthermore, The Lord is watching everywhere, keeping his eye on both the evil and the good (Proverbs 15:3 NLT). The Lord’s watchful eye didn’t miss a thing in David’s behavior or the response of the ungodly.
So it is with us. He’s still watching. The Lord watches over those who fear him, those who rely on his unfailing love (Psalm 33:18 NLT). We can sing with David, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in You! I take comfort in knowing that Almighty God is watching me. Do you? We are merely moving shadows.
Lord, let every move that I make be watched by You and covered by Your amazing grace!
© 2021, Chris Werre