24 November 2007

Psalm 141

"Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips. Do not turn my heart to any evil, to busy myself with wicked deeds in company with those who work iniquity..." (v.3-4)


Many of the psalms attributed to David speak about his life being in danger, and the need for the Lord to be a 'rock' or his 'refuge' in times of trouble. Today's reading is no exception as he mentions 'evildoers' and the 'wicked' who were no doubt threatening his life.

David was also exposed to non-human foes which were every bit as dangerous as the men seeking to take his life. Although David has been described as Israel's greatest king, like all of us, he was subject to temptations of the 'flesh', which, when they got the better of him, often had disastrous results (see 2 Samuel chapters 11 and 12).

However, David was aware of his frailties and in today's psalm he calls on the Lord to 'set a guard over his mouth', a 'watch over the door of [his] heart' and 'let not my heart be drawn to what is evil'.

As one theologian points out, being tempted is not a sin; it becomes so when we succumb. David calls on the Lord to deliver him from temptation by ensuring that his heart and mind are so focused on God that he will resist whatever lure comes his way.

We would be mindful of copying the great king's attitude when we are faced with temptations of various kinds.

To Ponder

Why is it that the things that tempt are so alluring?

How can we resist the things of the flesh?

Bible notes author

Richard Reddie

Richard Reddie is an author and researcher, who for three years headed up the set all free project which marked the 2007 slave trade bicentenary. He also worked as an education policy officer for Race On The Agenda (ROTA), a social policy think-tank looking at issues affecting London's Black Minority Ethnic Community.