3 Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth;
keep watch over the door of my lips!
4 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!
In the model prayer, Jesus taught us to pray, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” How needful this is. Our hope is not in our goodness. Yet we long to be changed, to be sanctified, to be done with sin. The promise of glory is before all who hope in Jesus. But the struggle of our day-to-day is real.
Where do I need to be delivered from evil? Where do you? We all face different temptations depending on our circumstances, our personalities, our unique gifts or weaknesses. For me, the words of the psalm above ring the bell of a place where I pray the Lord will guard and guide.
I see two temptations in verses 3 and 4 of Psalm 141. The first is so prominent in our day that I would have any believer pray it. We need the Lord to guard our mouths. One might also add the pen or the keyboard to that request. We are quick to sin with our lips. We are quick to hurt others with our words, to say things better left unsaid, to embellish our own goodness, to magnify the failure of others. This is my own need, and I surely pray that the Lord will set this guard in my own life.
In verse 4, we see a righteous prayer not to be taken in by the wicked. May we not fall in with their schemes. At first, this does not seem like something many of us are tempted toward. But look at the last line, “and let me not eat of their delicacies!” There is the danger. The wicked have delicacies, delightful things that we want. It is easy to envy the wealthy their wealth. It is easy to wish that we could have their seeming ease, their lack of worry, their worldly stability. Even if it is a lie, we can have our hearts tempted to wish for the goodies of those who seem to have it all. And that longing can become in us the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, and the pride of life.
May we learn to pray. May we rely on the Lord to guard our lives. May we never stop battling the temptations of our flesh. And may we have the joy and comfort of knowing that our hope is not in how well we win this fight; our hope is in Christ and his finished work alone.