Scripture reading – Psalm 141
The title of Psalm 141 is simply stated, “A Psalm of David.” Knowing the author, but not knowing the time or place it was composed, we are left to our own opinion regarding the circumstances that inspired the psalm. It was certainly at a time of peril, and most likely composed when David fled into the wilderness from Saul (1 Samuel 20-22).
I suggest we consider the psalm in five parts. The first, David’s cry for the LORD’S favor (141:1-2). He prayed the LORD would “make haste unto [him]; give ear unto [his] voice” (141:1). Like a frightened child who screams, and the mother hastens to bring comfort, David trusted the LORD would hear his cry for help. He sought the LORD’S attention, and asked that his prayer be as sweet in God’s sight “as incense; and…the evening sacrifice” (141:2).
David desired to not only be the object of the LORD’S favor, but that he would be kept from sinning with his mouth (141:3-4). He prayed, “3Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; Keep the door of my lips” (141:3). Certainly, that is a prayer we should pray! Centuries later, James warned, “the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity…it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:5-6). David not only prayed for the LORD to bridle his tongue, but to keep him from following in the ways of wicked men (141:4).
He prayed the LORD would find in him the humility to heed wise counsel, and the meekness to accept rebuke as “an excellent oil” (141:5).
David had been the object of lies, and deceptions, but he prayed he would one day be vindicated, and his judges, his persecutors, would “hear [his] words” (141:6). Like bones scattered with no grave, David was in a desperate, hopeless place (141:7).
Fifthly, David committed to keep his eyes on God (141:8), and to trust the LORD would not abandon, and leave him alone (141:8). Praying for protection, and vindication, he commended himself to the LORD, and prayed his enemies would fall into the very snares they had laid for his own demise (141:9-10).
Of the five parts we observed in David’s prayer, perhaps the matter of the mouth should resonate in us all. What humility, we have noticed in David! Though he was a man on the run, and unjustly pursued by an enemy, he was nonetheless sensitive that he not be like his enemy, therefore he prayed, “3Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; Keep the door of my lips” (141:3).
David found it necessary to ask the LORD to help him watch his mouth, and be the doorkeeper of his lips. Should we not pray the same?
1 Peter 3:10 – “10For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile.”
Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith