Are You Preaching To Yourself?

in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.
What can man do to me?
— Psalm 56:11

You might be the most important preacher you hear this week.

Most of us associate preaching with something we listen to on Sundays. When I open my Bible I get another picture. The psalmist help me rethink preaching. He shows me preaching is something I listen to, but it is also something I do.

The psalms help me see the importance of "preaching to myself." I like the way Joe Thorn puts it in his book, Note To Self,

To preach to yourself is to challenge yourself, push yourself, and point yourself to the truth. It is not so much uncovering new truth as much as it is reminding yourself of the truth you tend to forget.

That is exactly what happens in the Psalms. Psalm 42 and Psalm 56 come to mind. Listen closely and you will hear David preaching to himself in Psalm 56:

Be gracious to me, O God, for man tramples on me;
all day long an attacker oppresses me;
my enemies trample on me all day long,
for many attack me proudly.

When I am afraid,
I put my trust in you.
In God, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.
What can flesh do to me?

You have kept count of my tossings;
put my tears in your bottle.
Are they not in your book?

Then my enemies will turn back
in the day when I call.
This I know, that God is for me.

In God, whose word I praise,
in the Lord, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.
What can man do to me?

Psalm 56 is both David praying to God and David preaching to himself. Let me paraphrase some of the preaching part:

  • Verses 3-4: "When you get afraid, don't be afraid! People are just flesh and bones. They can't touch you apart from God's permission."
  • Verse 8: "God loves you so much he keeps track of every tear."
  • Verse 9: "My enemies may be after me, but that's no big deal. God is for me!"
  • Verse 11: "I am trusting in God. I'm not going to live in fear."

David reminded himself, challenged himself, and pointed himself to the truth. That was a good thing! Without that little "sermon to self" his experiences might have overwhelmed him.

David's life, like ours, is strangely paradoxical. He lived in contradictory states of the soul -- some days good and some days not so good. So he learned to preach to himself:

As a wave of fear threatened to break over his soul, David grabbed himself by the shirt collar and said, "Wait a minute. You have Almighty God on your side. This is no time time to wimp out!"

Preaching to yourself is holy self talk. David has three reasons to talk to himself with confidence:

  1. God made promises to him. In verses four and ten he writes, “In God whose word I praise.” David was resting in the promises of God and God always keeps his promises (Proverbs 30:5; Hebrews 6:18).
  2. God cares for him. In verse eight he writes, “You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle.  Are they not in your book?” David is convinced that God knows his every step, even his every tear. That intimate love motivates him to stand strong.
  3. God is for him. In verse nine David says, “This I know, that God is for me.” Standing against any army is no big deal if we really believe God is on our side. Any person plus God is a majority.

What was true for David is true for every person who knows God and walks with him. It is the assurance of God's promises, and God's care, and God's assistance. That gives us all the reason to preach to ourselves -- not just on Sunday, but every day.

Today, as you encounter challenges and troubles, point yourself to the truth -- preach to yourself.

If you need help remembering some of those wonderful promises of God, check out the post, "Stinkin' Thinkin." You can click here to get it.

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"To preach to yourself ..." from Note To Self: The Discipline of Preaching To Yourself, by Joe Thorn. Wheaton: Crossway. 2011. p. 32.