I Declare All the Rules of Your Mouth | Psalm 119:13

With my lips I declare
all the rules of your mouth.

Psalm 119:13 ESV

Moving into the second half of our present stanza, the psalmist continues the theme of obtaining purity through clinging to God’s Word, yet while verses 9-12 focused upon current resolve to seek the LORD through the Scriptures and upon the necessity of God teaching them to us, verses 13-16 act as a series of resolutions for the psalmist to speak, delight in, meditate upon, and remember God’s law.

Within this verse, the psalmist makes the pronunciation: with my lips I declare all the rules of your mouth. Hebrew poetry is most frequently built upon the parallelism between two lines of thought as presented here and within each verse of this psalm; therefore, when meditating over a particular verse from the Psalms, we should ponder the relationship between the lines. The same is true here. Notice that the first line describes the action of the psalmist, while the second line provides the subject of the verse: God’s rules. A further poetic connection between the lines is also seen in the usage of lips and mouth; he is purposely linking his own lips to the mouth of God. Without observing this parallel, it would be easy to quickly read this verse and conclude to ourselves: “Say Scripture out loud. Got it.” Yet the psalmist has something far deeper in mind. He longs for his own lips to be God’s instrument for speaking His rules. He desires to be God’s ambassador, a servant so close to his master that he is able to confidently speak his master’s own words.

Furthermore, we should consider this verse’s placement within the surrounding verses. I have typically read this verse as describing the psalmist’s desire to speak God’s Word to those around him, for the encouragement of his fellow believers and the instruction of nonbelievers. Yet the context of Psalm 119 in general and stanza Beth in particular is upon the psalmist himself. He has declared that he will seek the LORD with his whole heart, that he has stored up God’s Word in his heart, and for God to teach him His statutes. He will afterword continue to resolve to delight, meditate, and remember the Word of God. Thus, the immediate meaning of this verse seems to be the psalmist speaking Scripture to himself.

This follows the progression of the previous two verses perfectly. God’s Word is stored within his heart, but he is not content to let God’s manna rot in a tucked away vault of his heart. Daily, he is putting God’s Word to use by speaking it aloud to him. Likewise, though he cried for God to teach him, he is not waiting for a physical manifestation of God to appear and instruct him. He is placing his own lips in service of God’s mouth. He declares God’s Word to himself, trusting God to open his eyes to behold the wondrous things within.

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