Psalm 141

Psalm 141

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Give Ear to My Voice

A Psalm of David.

141   O LORD, I call upon you; hasten to me!
    Give ear to my voice when I call to you!
  Let my prayer be counted as incense before you,
    and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice!
  Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth;
    keep watch over the door of my lips!
  Do not let my heart incline to any evil,
    to busy myself with wicked deeds
  in company with men who work iniquity,
    and let me not eat of their delicacies!
  Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness;
    let him rebuke me—it is oil for my head;
    let my head not refuse it.
  Yet my prayer is continually against their evil deeds.
  When their judges are thrown over the cliff,
    then they shall hear my words, for they are pleasant.
  As when one plows and breaks up the earth,
    so shall our bones be scattered at the mouth of Sheol.
  But my eyes are toward you, O GOD, my Lord;
    in you I seek refuge; leave me not defenseless!
  Keep me from the trap that they have laid for me
    and from the snares of evildoers!
  Let the wicked fall into their own nets,
    while I pass by safely.


Psalm 141 Commentary

by Hank Workman

Now if we put the bits into the horses’ mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well. Look at the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder wherever the inclination of the pilot desires. So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things.  See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! 

And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell. For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race. But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.

James 3:3-10

I read that we open our mouths over 700 times a day to speak!  That’s a lot.  As natural as it comes, (and who in the world would ever even consider counting this?) the reality is we do so without any thought.  Such is the case when we open our mouths speaking to one another.  As James so poignantly wrote, this tongue of ours gets us into trouble again and again.  We speak before we think.  We say things that are harmful before we recalculate what we’re saying.  We boast and claim much based on the evil intentions of our hearts.

Yes, it always comes back to the heart.

It does us all well to pray that God would move upon us in such times, truly all the time, when we are responding to whatever has come before us.  There is much wisdom in waiting and praying before speaking.  This is particularly true when we have been attacked or criticized.

“…The mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.”

Luke 6:45

David didn’t want the same mouth that praised God to be used for evil.  “Place a guard over my mouth,” he said.  “Keep watch over the door of my lips,” he added.  If the house of God needed guards back in ancient times, how much more do we need the same?

How many times have we ruined a situation by speaking before we thought of the consequences?  Out of the evil of our hearts, or simply the selfishness of our ways, what all have we destroyed?  Words can never be taken back.  Even when asking forgiveness, the words we spoke still hover on a person even if they extend their mercy to us.  We simply don’t forget what others have said.  And this shapes us as people.

Yet David also knew that it wasn’t just his words that needed a guard.  It was his heart.  Whatever was going on in his heart, he would speak.  The heart truly must be reined in before the mouth.  His prayer is that he would not be infected by the sinfulness of his human nature where he would say and ultimately do anything contrary to what God desired.

The challenge for each of us is to bring our hearts continually before Jesus.  We are to lay them down, again and again, asking for Him to transform and work in them.  Only He can do this.  The larger challenge is shut up!  Before we say something we regret, we must make sure our hearts are right.  Before we speak boldly to someone, we must check our motives.  This tongue of ours continues to set forest fires when we are not following Jesus with our hearts.

Pray for wisdom.  Pray for discernment.  Remain silent until God directs the words to be given.

Psalm 141 Commentary

by Brad Boyles

David fixed his eyes on the Lord.

There are many times in life where we are stunted by the actions of others. As they spew hatred and evil in our direction, we begin to collapse. We may put up a good front, but the words strike deep within our heart. I used to tell my youth group that when our head hits the pillow, there is no escaping reality. We can keep busy throughout the day with work, family life, and entertainment. But when we lay down to sleep in the silence of the night, in that stillness, guilt, shame, fear, and regret often begin to creep in.

It’s in these moments that it’s easy to become overwhelmed. We can feel absolutely crippled by the intense hatred others have for us and the way they use their words toward us. It is possible to become so self-absorbed in our difficulties that we are paralyzed with fear, or even lose sleep. We start to question things we once thought we were sure of. Of course, this is not healthy, but it’s part of life. We have all been there before. David was there. His frustration with his enemies boils over in his prayer to God.

Psalms 141:8 HCSB  But my eyes look to You, Lord GOD. I seek refuge in You; do not let me die.

I love that the Psalms offer so much raw, vivid emotion. There is most likely not an emotion we will face in life that has not already been explored by this book. By reading Scripture, we can posture ourselves in the same way as many other struggling believers. We can cry out to God. We can resolve to trust Him. We can pray for His justice as He unfolds His will.

In the moments when life gets real, what do you turn to? Distractions? Addictions? Worldly pleasures? Or, when you lay your head down, do you turn your eyes to God and look to Him for the intangible antidote to life’s misery? A real, lasting peace, hope, and joy cannot be manufactured solely by human intervention. We must turn our eyes to Him and say aloud with wholehearted confidence, “I seek refuge in You!”

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