I read five Psalms first thing every morning. That way, I can read through the entire book of Psalms every month. Each day, I try to pray through one of my daily Psalms, using a method Donald Whitney teaches in his book, Praying the Bible
“I said, “I will guard my ways, that I may not sin with my tongue; I will guard my mouth with a muzzle, so long as the wicked are in my presence.” I was mute and silent; I held my peace to no avail, and my distress grew worse. My heart became hot within me. As I mused, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue:”
Psalm 39:1-3 ESV
A church member hurt me deeply yesterday, Lord. I was angry at what he said. I wanted to lash out. I still do. I wondered if, as a pastor, I am just supposed to bottle it up, or if there is ever an appropriate way to confront him with how much what he said to me made me mad. I know it was wrong. I know it was off-base. And because it was directed toward my wife and not toward me, I feel like I would have been more than justified in going full Will Smith on him.
“O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am! Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! Selah Surely a man goes about as a shadow! Surely for nothing they are in turmoil; man heaps up wealth and does not know who will gather!”
Psalm 39:4-6 ESV
So this morning, Lord, I’m trying to understand the connection between verses 1-3 and verses 4-6. Why is meditating on my life’s end the remedy for bottled-up anger?
- Maybe it is to remind me that life is too short to dwell on personal slights.
- Maybe it is to remind me that eternity is too long not to cultivate a sense of perspective— that in the balance of forever I am in turmoil for nothing (v. 6)
- Maybe it is to keep me humble, knowing my capacity for hurting others with my words as much as I was hurt by his.
- Maybe it is supposed to comfort me, knowing that even the most arrogant and offensive person also stands as a mere breath before You (v. 5).
“And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you. Deliver me from all my transgressions. Do not make me the scorn of the fool! I am mute; I do not open my mouth, for it is you who have done it. Remove your stroke from me; I am spent by the hostility of your hand. When you discipline a man with rebukes for sin, you consume like a moth what is dear to him; surely all mankind is a mere breath! Selah”
Psalm 39:7-11 ESV
- Maybe it is to protect me from being the scorn of fools (v. 8). You know what they say about getting down in the mud to wrestle a pig: It accomplishes nothing. You get dirty, and the pig likes it.
Or maybe I have to consider that what this person said, however misguided and offensive I thought it was, is actually a discipline coming from You, O Lord (v. 9). Maybe I am overly proud of how my wife and I are serving You in this season; and that having the validity of our testimony questioned is Your way of consuming like a moth what is dear to me (v. 11).
So now, O Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in You. You alone can be trusted with my hurt. I may have righteous anger, but I can’t trust myself to deal with it righteously. Help me know how to speak the truth in love. Help me know how to deal with this.