Acceptable in the Lord’s Sight

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Let the Word of My Mouth“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!

You don’t have to look very far to know if there’s a God or not. Our psalmist begins: “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork.” Part of it is common sense: where there’s creation, there’s a creator. This pulpit didn’t spontaneously appear or construct: someone with a talent for woodworking put it together. Likewise, the heavens aren’t a random occurrence: where creation, there creator. Someone had to be around to make it. So at the very least, the heavens testify that there’s a god out there somewhere.

So the heavens declare the glory of God, proclaiming vastness, beauty, power, and order. If nothing else, creation screams intelligent design and a creator, making it rather foolish to say there is no god.

But it’s not enough. Creation tells you that there is a god, but it doesn’t tell you much more than that. Specifically, it doesn’t tell you how this almighty creator feels about mankind in general, and you in particular. Creation preaches power, not attitude. Distance, not affection. You might infer from a beautiful sunrise that God is a warm and friendly sort, but then you might see a funnel cloud bearing down and decide that God is full of wrath. If you try to read God from nature, you’re going to get a portrait that’s shifting and fickle as the Minnesota weather.

Furthermore, if that’s all you know about God, then your religion is going to be far different from Christianity. Your religion is going to be about figuring out how to please and appease that mysterious creator out there somewhere, in order to get more sunsets and fewer funnel clouds.

But the Lord doesn’t want to be a far-off guessing game. He wants to make His identity and His will well-known. That’s why Psalm 19 doesn’t stop with the sun: it goes on to declare that the Lord will send His Word throughout the earth, wherever the sun shines.
In a series of balanced statements, the psalmist lists six names of God’s Word, six attributes of that Word, and six blessings that Word gives to believers.

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether.
Psalm 19:7-9

The terms law, testimony, precepts, commandment, fear, and rules make us think of God’s Law, as in when He commands what we are to do and not to do. However, in the psalms such terms can refer to the whole Word of God, even the Gospel, in which He announces salvation.

The attributes of the Word: perfect, sure, right, pure, clean, and true, correspond to the attributes of God. This isn’t surprising, since He is the true author of His Word even when it is delivered through humans. These attributes describe both God’s Law and Gospel, since all His Word is holy and perfect.

The six blessings from the Word listed in these verses may come from both the Law and the Gospel insofar as the believer is concerned. Both the Law and Gospel are righteous. Both endure forever, although in eternity neither the Law nor the Gospel will operate in the same way as it does now. Both give light, or guidance. Both give joy to the believer, since the believer delights in God’s Law insofar as he has been renewed by the Holy Spirit. Both give wisdom to the simple (that is, those who have a childlike faith).

However, these terms apply primarily to the Gospel, through which forgiveness and life are offered and delivered to the believer. This is especially true of the first blessing, “reviving the soul.” Only the Gospel can make a soul that is dead in sin alive again. Only the Gospel can turn a soul headed for hell back to God again. The Law can only give life to those who keep it perfectly. It can turn the soul back to God only when accepting its rebukes is the first step toward repentance. It also does this when those who are already motivated by the Gospel accept its correction.

The section concludes with a set of comparisons that illustrate the great value of God’s Word and the joy it brings. Verse 10 illustrates the value of the Word by comparing it to gold and to honey. Gold can buy things that sustain and enrich earthly life. The Word of God has the power to offer and deliver the gift of eternal life. The sweetness of honey gives pleasure, as those who have a “sweet tooth” know all too well. However, the pleasure it gives is nothing compared to the sweetness of forgiveness and peace with God.

Verse 11 is a transitional verse that looks back to the blessings for the believer that were described in the preceding section, but also points ahead to the impact of the spiritual life of the believer, which is emphasized in the final section of the psalm. The words of God’s Law warn the believer against sin and its terrible consequence. The words of God’s Gospel give the rewards that Christ has won for everyone who believes them. God’s Word also promises that the works of believers will be rewarded, even though these works deserve nothing.

The psalm starts with the heavens, but listen to how it ends in verses 12-14:

Who can discern his errors?
Declare me innocent from hidden faults.
Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins;
let them not have dominion over me!
Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

So that he will not lose these blessings, the psalmist prays that the Lord will preserve him from sins of every sort. He recognizes that sin is so deeply ingrained in his nature that he often sins without realizing it. He asks God to forgive even those sins that he fails to confess because of his ignorance.

David concludes with a prayer that God will not only forgive his sin, but will create a clean heart in him so that both the words that come out of his mouth and the thoughts that remain in his heart will be pure and pleasing to God.
“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).

We would do well to memorize these words of David and make them our own prayer as we daily battle against sin. Because of our weakness, we also sometimes sin even when we know better and even when we don’t want to do it. For these sins, we also need forgiveness. The psalmist prays especially for God to preserve him from deliberate, malicious sins, which could destroy his faith and thus rob him of forgiveness. We pray that the Lord will preserve us from such sin and that He will graciously restore us if we ever fall victim to them.

That’s where we get to the Good News: God doesn’t just send out the sun. He sends forth His Son, His Word. The purpose of the Word is not just to say, “There is a God,” but to say, “There is a God who saves.” Not just “God creates,” but “God redeems.” And to be the God who redeems, God doesn’t remain the far-off Creator. He draws far closer to you.

How close?

He became one of us! In addition to this revelation of God in nature, He has made Himself known to men in a much more wonderful manner, namely, in the message of the grace of God in Christ Jesus, in the Gospel.

Jesus the eternal Son of God was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary that He might stand in our stead. In His Baptism, He further identified with us and took on the burden of our sins. Jesus lived the perfect obedient life you and I could not. He died on the cross, paying the ransom for our sins and crediting us with His righteousness. Three days later, the Incarnate Temple raised Himself from the dead. Ascended to heaven, He now sits at the right hand of God, where He intercedes for us and continues to be with us always to the end of the age in His Word and Sacraments.

Rejoice, dear brothers and sisters in Christ. Your God is not a faraway mystery who leaves you guessing. He is your Rock and your Redeemer. The Strong One draws near in His means of grace so that you might be absolutely sure of how He considers you. You are acceptable in the Lord’s sight. The Bridegroom has run His course with joy, cross and all, so that He might draw near this day and say to you: “You are forgiven for all of your sins.”

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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