Psalm 51:15

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 15. O Lord, open thou my lips. He is so afraid of himself that he commits his whole being to the divine care, and fears to speak till the Lord unstops his shame silenced mouth. How marvellously the Lord can open our lips, and what divine things can we poor simpletons pour forth under his inspiration! This prayer of a penitent is a golden petition for a preacher, Lord, I offer it for myself and my brethren. But it may stand in good stead any one whose shame for sin makes him stammer in his prayers, and when it is fully answered, the tongue of the dumb begins to sing. And my mouth shall shew forth thy praise. If God opens the mouth he is sure to have the fruit of it. According to the porter at the gate is the nature of that which comes out of a man's lips; when vanity, anger, falsehood, or lust unbar the door, the foulest villainies troop out; but if the Holy Spirit opens the wicket, then grace, mercy, peace, and all the graces come forth in tuneful dances, like the daughters of Israel when they met David returning with the Philistine's head.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 15. O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise. As man is a little world in the great, so the tongue is a great world in the little. Nihil habet medium; aut grande malum est, aut grande bonum. (Jerome.) It has no mean; it is either a great evil, or a great good. If good (as Eunapius said of that famous rhetorician) a walking library, a whole university of edifying knowledge; but if bad (as St. James doth tell us, James 3:6 ), "a world of wickedness." No better dish for God's public service, when it is we; seasoned; again, none worse, when ill handled. So that if we desire to be doorkeepers in God's house, let us entreat God first to be a doorkeeper in our house, that he would shut the wicket of our mouth against unsavoury speeches, and open the door of our lips, that our mouth may shew forth his praise. This was David's prayer, and ought to be thy practice, wherein observe three points especially: who, the Lord; what, open my lips; why, that my mouth shall shew forth thy praise. For the first -- man of himself cannot untie the strings of his own stammering tongue, but it is God only which opened "a door of utterance." Colossians 4:3 . When we have a good thought, it is (as the school doth speak) gratia infusa; when a good word, gratia effusa; when a good work, gratia diffusa. Man is a lock, the Spirit of God has a key, "which openeth and no man shutteth;" again, "shutteth and no man openeth." Revelation 3:7 . He did open the heart of Lydia to conceive well, the ears of the prophet to hear well, the eyes of Elisha servant to see well, and here the lips of David to speak well. Ac 16:1-40 Isaiah 50:1-11 2 Kings 6:1-33 . And therefore, whereas in the former verse he might seem too peremptory, saying, My tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness; he doth, as it were, correct himself by this later edition and second speech: O Lord, I find myself most unable to sing or say, but open thou my lips, and touch thou my tongue, and then I am sure my mouth shall shew forth thy praise. John Boys.

Verse 15. O Lord, open thou my lips, etc. Again he seems to have the case of the leper before his mind, with the upper lip covered, and only crying unclean, unclean; and he prays as a spiritual leper to be enabled, with freedom and fulness, to publish abroad the praise of his God. W. Wilson.

Verse 15. (first clause). He prays that his lips may be opened; in other words, that God would afford him matter of praise. The meaning, usually attached to the expression is, that God would so direct his tongue by the Spirit as to fit him for singing his praises. But though it is true that God must supply us with words, and that if he do not, we cannot fail to be silent in his praise, David seems rather to intimate that his mouth must be shut until God called him to the exercise of thanksgiving by extending pardon. John Calvin.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 15.

  1. Confession. His lips are sealed on account --
  2. Of his fall -- and well they might be.
  3. Of natural timidity.
  4. Of want of zeal.
  5. Petition, "Open thou," etc. Not my understanding merely and heart, but "lips."
  6. Resolution. Then he would speak freely in God's praise.

Verse 15.

  1. When God does not open our lips we had better keep them closed.
  2. When he does open them we ought not to close them.
  3. When he opens them it is not to speak in our own praise, and seldom in praise of others, but always in his own praise.
  4. We should use this prayer whenever we are about to speak in his name. "O Lord, open," etc.