Tag Archives: Psalms

Leadership – Guarding Our Mouth

Here’s a really well known verse:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” – Galatians 5:22-23

We often think of the fruit of the Spirit as personal qualities, but each one of them is a leadership quality too. A leader who has no love, no joy, no faithfulness… isn’t going to be leading for long.

But you’ll notice a highlighted word in the verse above – ‘self-control’. When it comes to leadership and longevity in a leadership position… I reckon this has to be one of the most important qualities that we can possess.

In fact if you think about it, pretty much every leader who has ‘taken a tumble’ has done so because they lacked self-control… be it with their wallets, their libido, or with the words they used. And it’s the area of our words that I want to look at today.

Cue another well-known verse:

We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check – James 3:2

What’s contained here is stunning when we think about it. James basically says, if we’re able to keep our tongues under control, we can keep our whole body in check. Could it be that self-control in the area of our speech is a key to unlock it’s power in the rest of our lives too? Hmmm.. thoughts to be explored another time.

One thing I love about King David is that he’s so brutally honest in the Psalms. And here in Psalm 39 we get an incredible behind-the-scenes insight into the heart of the man:

I said, “I will guard my ways
That I may not sin with my tongue;
I will guard my mouth as with a muzzle
While the wicked are in my presence.”
I was mute and silent,
I refrained even from good,
And my sorrow grew worse.
My heart was hot within me,
While I was musing the fire burned;

Then I spoke with my tongue:
“ Lord, make me to know my end
And what is the extent of my days;
Let me know how transient I am.
“Behold, You have made my days as handbreadths,
And my lifetime as nothing in Your sight;
Surely every man at his best is a mere breath.
– Psalm 39:1-4

David is clearly writing about an episode that’s taken place in his life. Because of some negative experience he’s had previously, he’s made the decision to be way more careful about what he says… especially around those he doesn’t trust (‘the wicked’).

Let’s break it down:

1) David Makes A Good Decision To Guard His Mouth

In life, it’s wise to reflect on situations that haven’t gone well, so that we can make adjustments for next time. Otherwise we can end up in cyclical patterns where history continues to repeat itself.

When we make decisions on how we’re going to react in a situation BEFORE it happens, it empowers us to stay on track WHEN it happens.

For leaders, there’s some good wisdom here that David shares – in that it’s smart to be careful with what you say around other people.

For me, I’m a natural extrovert, which means that I have a tendency to think out loud and come to conclusions while I’m speaking. But I’ve learnt over the years that it’s wise to be careful with situations and ideas that are still evolving because not everyone has the ability to process well what they hear you say. Some people get the wrong message or twist your words, some people tell others things they shouldn’t, some people gather ammunition that gets fired back later on.

David had been through all this and came to a wise conclusion. Be self-controlled when it comes to what you share.

We always have the opportunity to ADD to what has been said later, but we never have the chance to REMOVE something that has already escaped our lips.

2) David Takes His Decision A Step Too Far

“I was mute and silent… I refrained from even saying anything good..”

Uh oh. It seems like David got offended somehow and decided to give the difficult people around his life the silent treatment! It’s funny isn’t it – because we can start out to solve an issue with the right intentions but if we’re not careful we can actually overbalance the other way.

David went from shutting his mouth to actually shutting off his heart to those around him. I’m sure there’s times that every leader has been tempted to do that when you’re dealing with difficult people. BUT – he was their King. These people may have been hard work, but they still needed to hear from their King.

It’s really important for us as leaders to check our heart with those that we are leading. We can create huge problems for ourselves if we don’t deal cleanly and authentically with people. We can’t let the actions of other people change our value system or define the way that we will relate to them.

3) David Becomes Aware Of The Effect On His Heart

The thing with giving people the silent treatment… is that it doesn’t usually have the desired effect, and David discovers this firsthand. His silent treatment just ends up making him more and more angry with people.

Anytime you find your heart is getting hot and angry… then something is out of order. Something is going wrong!

Many times, silent treatments end up with explosions as all the emotions that have been held in inevitably find their way out. Fortunately though, this Psalm doesn’t end this way!

4) David Gets Heavenly Perspective

In the midst of it all, David goes to God. When he does this – David starts to get an eternal point of view – and realises… all of this is just so temporary.

It seems to me the secret to self-control is remind ourselves that ‘this too will pass’. In the moment we can feel like a problem or issue is our whole world. But if I deal with the emotion right, then it will pass, and I will win the victory.

In Conclusion

1) Make the decision to be careful with what you say as a leader – your words carry weight

2) Be aware that great communication is needed – even with difficult people – so that you can stay in an effective place of leadership

3) When you’re heart is angry – something is wrong. Don’t proces out of the moment.

4) Eternal perspectives help us thorugh temporary troubles!

The Process Of Refining

For you, God, have tested us. You have refined us, as silver is refined.  You brought us into prison. You laid a burden on our backs.  You allowed men to ride over our heads. We went through fire and through water, but you brought us to the place of abundance. – Psalms 66:10-12

When you’re walking with God, the destination is ALWAYS worth whatever hardship you have to walk through to get there.  What I’ve discovered though, is that in order for me to receive ALL that God wants to give me, He has to expand me, mold me, and strengthen me.  Otherwise I don’t have the capacity to take what He wants to pour out on my life. 

The process by which God works in us so that He can give us more is called REFINING.  Precious metals are refined in the fire, so that the impurities are separated from them.  Then they emerge sparkling! 

In this passage we see the process of testing and refining that God does in us in order to bring us ‘to the place of abundance’. 

You brought us into prison – one of the ways that we’re tested is that we’re kept in a place or situation that we find really hard to stay in.  In this place we have to make a choice to either be overcome or to overcome.  Just like Joseph – he could have wallowed in bitterness in the prison that he found himself in.  But instead he got his gift active, and he made the most of the situation.  He overcame – and he passed his time of testing.  The prison prepared him for the palace. 

You laid a burden on our backs – recently I finished reading Bear Grylls’ book ‘Mud, Sweat And Tears’.  He gives an account of the SAS training he went through – where they were regularly tested with carrying immensely heavy loads while running across desolate country and having to reach a destination in a certain time.  The loads we carry can be responsibilities and roles, they can be health issues or financial crises, they can be relationships and people connections.  But a burden is not just an everyday load – it’s when it’s really loaded up.  Again, God allows this so that we can TAKE MORE.  I’ve watched over years as those that God is preparing for leadership have been given what seemed like impossible burdens to carry – and yet not only have they carried them, but they’ve prospered while carrying them.  They’ve kept great faith and attitude. 

You allowed men to ride over our heads – another way that God expands and grows us is to put is the place where we are mistreated by those around us.  Sometimes there’s genuine reasons – we may be a bit arrogant or don’t know how to say no.  But sometimes, we find ourselves persecuted without reason.  How we respond in these situations is also part of a test. 

We went through fire and water – situations that burnt us, and places where we literally thought we were going to drown. 

All of these are preparation.  None of us enjoy them – but they get us ready for the place of abundance.  One of the things that will keep you going through a time of trial is to know that it is actually all for a reason.  The things we walk through can seem at times unbelievably harsh and incredibly unfair, but if we can rise up above them – then we find the way through to the place of abundance.  And what we discover in that place is that we now possess the ability to hold on and remain in the place of abundance, because we have been expanded and grown in the place of testing. 

Hunger Follows Seeking

“God, you are my God. I will earnestly seek you. My soul thirsts for you. My flesh longs for you…” – Psalms 63:1

Often we can wait until we sense the urge to seek God before we start to actively seek Him.  But what this verse shows us is that our ‘soul thirsting for God’ follows a decision to ‘earnestly seek you’.  The decision to seek comes first – the thirst and hunger follows it.  It’s the result of the very first part of this verse – God being our God.  When He is our God we make a choice to seek Him, and our appetite for Him grows.  

It works the same way with natural hunger – in order to increase your appetite, you have to start by eating more (not that increasing a food appetitie is something most people want to do!).  What feels unnatural to begin with will start to become normal over time.  When it comes to seeking God – there’s a battle over your flesh that you must win first.  

If you seek God – even when you don’t feel like it – you’ll start to develop a hunger and thirst for Him that will grow!  You’ll begin to pray and worship outside of just Sundays – and His power and presence will begin to flow into every part of your life!

Constant Longing

Psalms 119:20 – My soul is consumed with longing for your ordinances at all times.

What our soul desires is the commandments of God.  It’s what burns and yearns within us.  But we so often misunderstand our soul’s crying out for God, as a desire for other things.  So we fill our lives with things that don’t satisfy. 

This verse shows us that our soul longs AT ALL TIMES.  The presence and word of God is what we are longing for.  We don’t live on bread alone but by the word that proceeds out of the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4, Luke 4:4, Deuteronomy 8:3).

Don’t try to satisfy a longing for God by filling your life with things that are not Him. Our flesh can rebel when we start to connect our longing with the true source, but He will surely bring us life and peace!

When Walls Break Down

Psalms 89:40-41 – You have broken down all his hedges. You have brought his strongholds to ruin.  All who pass by the way rob him.

When our hedges come down, our strongholds get destroyed. 

Our hedges are the walls that surround our life – the decisions, the habits, the disciplines that guard us and keep us in Christ.  Our stronghold is our walk and relationship with God – which is like the ‘strong tower’ that we run into in times of trouble to find safety. 

What this means for us is that decisions, habits and disciplines are important.  They don’t make us righteous by themselves, but they are vital to KEEPING US. 

When we lose those hedges, our strongholds get put at risk, and then all who pass by ‘rob us’ (Psalms 89:41).

Make sure your hedges are strong!

Precious Thoughts

Psalms 139:17 – How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them!

In Psalm 139, we read about how well God knows us – from even before we were born, and right through our lives.  In intricate detail!

In light of this – the Psalmist makes a cry – how precious are the thoughts of God! 

God doesn’t just have a fleeting interest in us – he KNOWS us so well.  He made us for a plan a purpose.  So therefore – why don’t we listen to Him?! 

Let’s be people who seek to know what God thinks about our lives.  He’s got SO MANY good things laid up for us – if we’ll just take the time to listen!

The Cause Of Wickedness

Psalms 36:1 – An oracle is within my heart about the disobedience of the wicked: "There is no fear of God before his eyes."

The reason for the disobedience of the wicked is that they have no fear of God.  They’re not worried or concerned about what God thinks of their actions, nor of His consequences for sin. 

We were never designed to be masters of our own destiny, answerable to no-one.  Instead, we were made to bring glory and worship to God, and to live in humility and reverence toward Him. 

This has a direct practical application too – any area of ongoing sin in our lives is usually an area where we don’t fear the consequences (or don’t care about the consequences).  Having a correct view of both the kindness and sternness of the Lord is the key to walking in righteousness. 

Pleasure In Our Prosperity

Psalms 35:27 – Let them shout for joy and be glad, who favor my righteous cause. Yes, let them say continually, "The Lord be magnified, who has pleasure in the prosperity of his servant!"

In the midst of a Psalm where David feels like his enemies are gloating over him, he makes this statement – ‘The Lord be magnified, who has pleasure in the prosperity of his servant’!

There are Christians who seem to think that God only wants to bring them poverty, and that His inclination toward them is to purify them continually through pain and judgment!  Nothing could be further from the truth!

In fact, the Lord takes great pleasure and delight in blessing us.  Just as a parent delights to give a good gift to their children – so our Father is towards us.  And whenever he allows difficulty or hardship into our lives – it’s only because he wants to increase our trust and dependence on Him – so he can BLESS us more!!

You’re Going To Make It!

Psalms 84:7 – They go from strength to strength. Everyone of them appears before God in Zion.

In this Psalm, we read of how those who set their heart on pilgrimage have to go through times of pain and suffering, but how they will eventually appear before God in Zion!

The promise is that they will go from strength to strength.  They WILL leave the valley of weeping, and continue to press on. 

Everyone of them appears before God in Zion.  All of those who ‘dwell’ or ‘belong’ in the house of the Lord, who have ‘set their hearts on pilgrimage’ will appear before the Lord in Zion.  What a promise!

How much of our crossing the finish line is in the realm of God’s sovereignty and how much is in the realm of our responsibility can be argued ad infinitum.  Yet we won’t reach the destination if we give up in the race – nor will we cross the finish line without a huge awareness that God got us there!

Pick yourself up today and keep on the path – you’re going to make it!

The Secret Of His Presence

Psalms 31:20 – In the shelter of your presence you will hide them from the plotting of man. You will keep them secretly in a dwelling away from the strife of tongues.

There are times in life when we will certainly face opposition from people.  If we have resolved to live a life that pleases God, it’s something we can bank on! 

Yet in the midst of this, God makes a great promise to us – that in the shelter of his presence he will hide us from two things – the plotting of man, and the strife of tongues. 

The presence of God is our refuge.  When we make the decision in crisis to run first to Him, he brings the plotting of others to nothing and hides us from the curses and words that are spoken in these kinds of situations. 

Jesus told us – when you pray, go into your room and close the door (Matthew 6).  It’s here that we’ll discover the secret of His presence, and find the strength to continue our battle on!