Weds 12th August - Psalm 141
1 I call to you, Lord, come quickly to me;
hear me when I call to you.
2 May my prayer be set before you like incense;
may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.
3 Set a guard over my mouth, Lord;
keep watch over the door of my lips.
4 Do not let my heart be drawn to what is evil
so that I take part in wicked deeds
along with those who are evildoers;
do not let me eat their delicacies.
5 Let a righteous man strike me – that is a kindness;
let him rebuke me – that is oil on my head.
My head will not refuse it,
for my prayer will still be against the deeds of evildoers.
6 Their rulers will be thrown down from the cliffs,
and the wicked will learn that my words were well spoken.
7 They will say, ‘As one ploughs and breaks up the earth,
so our bones have been scattered at the mouth of the grave.’
8 But my eyes are fixed on you, Sovereign Lord;
in you I take refuge – do not give me over to death.
9 Keep me safe from the traps set by evildoers,
from the snares they have laid for me.
10 Let the wicked fall into their own nets,
while I pass by in safety.
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Meditation on Psalm 141
This Psalm is where the ‘rubber hits the road’. It opens with David’s urgent prayer and continues with his longing for a godly life which may involve a friend being very honest with him. He then thinks about those who are evildoers before confirming his faith in the LORD which leads him to a safe place. It is not always easy to understand some of the phrases he uses.
There is speculation as to when David wrote it – some say when he was fleeing from King Saul, while others suggest it was when Absalom wanted the throne and David ran away. It doesn’t matter when – it does matter about the lessons in this Psalm for us as children of God.
A. A Prayer of urgency verses 1-2
Here is David, pleading with the LORD – “come quickly”. He calls out to the LORD “hear me when I call to you.”
When a child calls out to a parent, the parent not only hears the call but hears the voice behind the call. This is how it is with the LORD – He hears our call and He hears the voice behind that call.
As the incense would rise to God when His people prayed as a ‘sweet smelling sacrifice’, so God loves to hear us when we call out to Him.
As we lift up our hands we are, in the words of the hymn, saying “nothing in my hands I bring, simply to your cross I cling.”
B. A Prayer for protection verses 3-4
Before David prays about the evildoers, He prays that he won’t become part of their group. He prays for protection on his mouth, his lips and his heart. The essence of his prayer is, ‘Lord, please keep me from the evil one.’
He knows the dangers of getting caught up with them ‘in their delicacies’.
Isn’t this what Jesus knew about us when He taught us to pray, “do not lead us into temptation?”
C. A Prayer of humility verse 5a
Spurgeon sums this up beautifully when he comments, ‘“Depend upon it, the man who will tell you your faults is your best friend. It may not be a pleasant thing for him to do it and he knows that he is running the risk of losing your friendship; but he is a true and sincere friend, therefore thank him for his reproof and learn how you may improve by what he tells you.”
God give us friends like that.
D. A Prayer for safety verses 5b-7
The Contemporary English version helps me with these difficult verses – ‘My prayers condemn the deeds of those who do wrong, so don’t let me be friends with any of them. Everyone will admit that I was right when their rulers are thrown down a rocky cliff and their bones lie scattered like broken rocks on top of a grave.’
E. A Prayer of confidence verses 8-10
Here is one of those classic biblical ‘but…’. In spite of all that has gone before, I know I can trust in the Lord.
I look to the Lord.
I take refuge in the Lord.
I know I am safe in the Lord.
Thank you, Lord.
Thursday 13 August - Psalm 142
Friday 14 August - Psalm 143
Saturday 15 August - Psalm 144
Sunday 16 August - Psalm 145
Monday 17 August - Psalm 146
Tuesday 18 August - Psalm 147