With my lips I declare
all the ordinances of your mouth (Psa. 119:13 NRSV).
The psalmist uses his lips to declare the ordinances of YHWH’s mouth. From God’s mouth, to the psalmist’s mouth. Mouth-to-mouth. For us, “mouth-to-mouth” implies resuscitation. In Psalm 119:13 mouths and lips are used to communicate God’s laws.
In the world of the Old Testament, lips and mouths often carry communication connotations, they can also mean more than that. Isaiah declared that he was a man of unclean lips, so YHWH’s seraph (a flying, firey lizard-basically a dragon) touched his lips with a hot coal to purify them (Isa 6:5-6). Ouch. Don’t try that at home. Jeremiah lacked confidence in his speaking, so YHWH touched his mouth and put his words into his mouth to empower him (Jer 1:6-9).
The ministry of these two prophets was characterized by speaking God’s word, like the psalmist. However, the divine mouth-touch not only imparted a supernatural gift of communication, but also gifts of purification and of empowerment.
The ultimate mouth-to-mouth in Scripture has to be the first one. During creation God took the mud-man (Adam sounds like the Hebrew word for ground, adamah) and breathed into him the breath of life (Gen. 2:7). Not technically a resuscitation, since he wasn’t alive previously, but a similar idea. That which comes from God’s mouth gives us life.
Here in the fifth verse of the Bet section of Psalm 119, the psalmist is taking God’s laws, all of them, and declaring them to the audience to bless, empower, purify and revive.
Be revived and resuscitated as you declare God’s words to the world around you. From God’s mouth, to the psalmist’s mouth, to your mouth. Mouth-to-mouth-to-mouth.
(In addition to not blogging on major holidays (Christmas, Easter), I’ll take a Sabbath-esque break from Sunday blogging on Psalm 119 after each 8-verse section.)
Why do you think the psalmist mentions mouths and lips here?