Let the words of my mouth and the mediation of my heart find favor in your Heart O my Beloved, my strength and my joy! Psalm 19 Nan C. Merrill
Psalm 19 is given to God as an offering with the hope of God’s acceptance, pardon for sin, and restoration to communion with God. The language of this offering is love, as it is expressed with words and without words, in the earth and in the torah, in each individual’s heart and throughout the cosmos. The wonders of God’s love is told day and night for eternity. Each of us can experience it in the holy moment of now.
Perhaps that is why the last line is quoted by preachers as a prayer before the sermon. It is a moment in which we can do the greatest good or cause the greatest harm, so we must fully surrender to the love of God. It is true of all other moments too (and for all of us if we preach from a pulpit or with our lives). Thankfully, each moment is filled with God’s love and we only need to be present to experience it.
As we all hope to be a beneficial presence, let us pray the last section of Psalm 19 (Nan C. Merrill’s version):
But who can discern their own weakness? Cleanse me, O Love, from all my hidden faults. Keep me from boldly acting in error; let my fears and illusions not have dominion over me! Then shall I become a beneficial presence, freely and fully surrendered to your Love. Let the words of my mouth and the mediation of my heart find favor in your Heart O my Beloved, my strength and my joy!
The Lord’s Prayer:
If you are new to breath prayer, I’ve recorded some examples:
Here are some simple breath prayers to accompany this psalm:
Meditate on voiceless messages
A simple prayer with one word on exhalation and one on inhalation: God fill me with your Holy Spirit. I receive your love and release my fears.
Or you can split a longer phrase between inhalation and exhalation or put a phrase on both. Here is an example: Cleanse me from my faults. I surrender to love.
Do what is most comfortable to you. Breath prayer is a practice not something we do perfectly. Some days will be easier than others.
Ok, everyone, take a deep breath. Breath in. Breath out. Breath in. Breath out. Repeat as needed.
I began writing Psalm reflections during Lent of 2020 shortly after we decided to close the church building, work from home, and worship via zoom. It is a practice I have continued since. Many churches use the Revised Common Lectionary (RLC) that rotates scripture on a three-year cycle (A, B, and C). Starting in Advent 2019, Third Church decided to worship with the texts from Year D, which is still not circulated as are years A, B, and C. Year D was created with the goal of including scriptures that were left out or not used as frequently as others. While we were using Psalms in year D, most other lectionary followers were using Year A. In Advent of 2020 we rejoined those who use the lectionary in year B. Advent of 2021 follows year C of lectionary pattern with Psalms in year C.
I use the Vanderbilt Divinity Library’s resource for lectionary readings to make text selections.
Other Year C Psalm blog posts:
Advent – Transfiguration: 1st Sunday in Advent Psalm 25, 2nd Sunday in Advent instead of a Psalm the lectionary gives Luke 1:68-79, 3rd Sunday in Advent instead of a Psalm the lectionary gives Isaiah 12:2-6, 4th Sunday in Advent Luke 1:46b-55 or Psalm 80, Christmas Eve or Christmas Day Psalm 96, Psalm 97, Psalm 98, 1st Sunday after Christmas, Psalm 148, New Year’s Day Psalm 8, 2nd Sunday after Christmas Psalm 147, Epiphany Psalm 72, 1st Sunday after Epiphany Psalm 29, 2nd Sunday after Epiphany Psalm 35, 3rd Sunday after Epiphany Psalm 19, 4th Sunday after Epiphany Psalm 71, 5th Sunday after Epiphany Psalm 138, 6th Sunday after Epiphany Psalm 1, 7th Sunday after Epiphany Psalm 37, Transfiguration Sunday (Sunday before Lent) Psalm 99
Lent: Ash Wednesday Psalm 51, 1st Sunday in Lent Psalm 91, 2nd Sunday in Lent Psalm 27, 3rd Sunday in Lent Psalm 63, 4th Sunday in Lent Psalm 32, 5th Sunday in Lent Psalm 126, 6th Sunday in Lent (Palm or Passion Sunday) Psalm 118 or 31
Holy Week: Monday Psalm 36, Tuesday Psalm 71, Wednesday Psalm 70, Maundy Thursday Psalm 116, Good Friday Psalm 22, Holy Saturday Psalm 31
Easter: Easter Psalm 118 or Psalm 114, 2nd Sunday of Easter Psalm 118 or Psalm 150, 3rdSunday of Easter Psalm 30, 4th Sunday of Easter Psalm 23, 5th Sunday of Easter Psalm 148, 6thSunday of Easter Psalm 67, Ascension Psalm 47 or Psalm 93, 7th Sunday of Easter Psalm 97, Day of Pentecost Psalm 104
Season After Pentecost (Ordinary Time): 1st Sunday after Pentecost (Trinity Sunday) Psalm 8, 2nd Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 42 and Psalm 43 or Psalm 22, 3rd Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 77 or Psalm 16, 4th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 30 or Psalm 66, 5th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 82 or Psalm 25, 6th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 52 or Psalm 15, 7th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 85 or Psalm 138, 8th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 107 or Psalm 49, 9thSunday after Pentecost Psalm 50 or Psalm 33, 10th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 80 or Psalm 82, 11th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 71 or Psalm 103, 12th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 81 or Psalm 112, 13th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 139 or Psalm 1, 14th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 14 or Psalm 51, 15th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 91 or Psalm 113, 16th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 91 or Psalm 146, 17th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 137 or Psalm 37, 18th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 66 or Psalm 111, 19th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 119 or Psalm 121, 20thSunday after Pentecost Psalm 65 or Psalm 84, 21st Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 119 or Psalm 32, 22nd Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 145 or Psalm 98 or Psalm 17, 23rd Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 98, 24th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 46.
Sources and notes:
“”Lord, my rock and my redeemer” are the last words of Psalm 19. On the way to that confessional conclusion the psalm speaks of the creation’s testimony to the creator (vv. 1-6), the incomparable value of the law of the LORD (vv. 7-10), and the hymn need for divine forgiveness and protection (vv 11-13). One must meditate on all three parts and make the whole the worlds of the heart in order to understand the devotion and trust expressed in the concluding confession.” Mays p. 96
“The sum of the first part of the psalm can be stated quite simply. The world witnesses to God. The creator manifests the glory of its creator.” Mays p. 97 “The second part of the psalm is a precisely constructed poetic passage exalting the virtues, benefits, and desirability of the torah of the LORD” Mays p. 98 “The third part of the psalm is a prayer for God’s help. In the prayer the psalmist acknowledges that he cannot be righteous through torah alone. [He is dependent on God for restoration].” Mays p. 99
“In a rare identification, the composer tells us what this psalm is and what it is for (v. 14). The psalmist calls it “words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart.” It is composed for the oral recitation in an act of worship. The words express the music of the heart, the seat of consciousness in which thoughts are formed. Through the words the heart finds voice and the self is presented to God. The prayer seres the purpose of sacrifice; “be acceptable” is a technical term for qualified offerings to God at the sanctuary. In the temple service, sacrifices were offered to seek God’s pardon and restoration (Leviticus 4-5; Num. 15:22-31). In the intention of the psalmist, this prayer poem is such an offering.” Mays p. 100
“…Psalm 19 affirms that love is the basic reality. According to the psalmist, the God whose sovereignty is proclaimed by cosmic voices is the God who has addressed a personal word to humankind–God’s torah. Furthermore, this God is experienced ultimately by humankind not as a cosmic enforcer but as a forgiving next of kin! God is love, and love is the force that drives the cosmos.” NIB p. 355
” The love that motivated God to create humankind and bear the burden of human disobedience (Genesis 1-11) is the same love manifested in the story of Israel (see esp. Exodus 32-34), in the life of the psalmist (vv. 11-14), and, as Christians profess, in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Love is the basic reality of the universe.” NIB p. 355
“Generation after generations we tell ourselves the stories of the past, the tasks of the present and the promise of the future. Each of them is measured by the eternal truths in the human heart, the call of God that rumbles through the world. This tension between past experiences, the wisdom of the ages and the underlying urgency of now, leaves us with the spiritual balancing at of all time.” Chittister p. 105
WBC Allen, Leslie C. 1983. Word Biblical Commentary: Psalms 101-150. Vol. 21. Waco, TX: Word Books, Publisher.
Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. 1974. Psalms: The Prayer Book of the Bible. 8th ed. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Press.
Brueggemann, Walter. 2007. Praying the Psalms: Engaging Scripture and the Life of the Spirit. 2nd ed. Eugene, OR: Cascade.
Brueggemann Brueggemann, Walter. 2014. From Whom No Secrets Are Hid: Introducing the Psalms. Edited by Brent A. Strawn. 1st ed. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.
Chittister Chittister, Joan. (2011). Songs of the heart: reflections on the psalms. John Garratt Publishing.
WBC Craigie, Peter C. 1983. Psalms 1-50–Word Biblical Commentary. Vol. 19. Waco, TX: Word Books.
Creach Creach, Jerome Frederick Davis. 1998. Psalms: Interpretation Bible Studies. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.
DAFLER, J. (2021). PSOBRIETY: A journey of recovery through the psalms. Louisville, KY: WESTMINSTER JOHN KNOX.
W de Claisse-Walford, Nancy L. WISDOM COMMENTARY: Psalms Bks. 4-5. Edited by Barbara E. Reid. Vol. 22. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical, 2020.
W Hopkins, Denise Dombkowski. WISDOM COMMENTARY: Psalms Bks. 2-3. Edited by Barbara E. Reid. Vol. 21. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical, 2016.
NIB Keck, Leander E. 2015. The New Interpreters Bible Commentary. Vol. 3. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press.
Lewis, C. S. (2017). Reflections on the Psalms. Harper One, an imprint of Harper Collins Publishers.
Mays Mays, James Luther. 1994. Psalms. Louisville, KY: John Knox Press.
McCann McCann, J. C. (1993). A theological introduction to the book of Psalms: The Psalms as Torah. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press.
McCann, J. C., & Howell, J. C. 2001. Preaching the Psalms. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press.
Merrill, N. C. (2020). Psalms for praying an invitation to wholeness (10th Anniversary Edition ed.). London, England: Bloomsbury Publishing.
Miller Miller, Patrick D. 1986. Interpreting the Psalms. Philadelphia, PA: Fortress Press.
Schlimm Schlimm, Matthew Richard. 2018. 70 Hebrew Words Every Christian Should Know.Nashville, TN: Abington Press.
Spong Spong, M. (Ed.). (2020). The words of her mouth: Psalms for the struggle. Cleveland, OH: The Pilgrim Press.
WBC Tate, Marvin E. 1990. Word Biblical Commentary: Psalms 51-100. Edited by David Allan. Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker. Vol. 20. Waco, TX: Word.
OTL Weiser, Artur. 1998. Old Testament Library: Psalms. Translated by Herbert Hartwell. 3rd ed. New York, NY: Manchester University Press.