PRAYING for SELF-DISCIPLINE in our DAILY LIFE: "Let my prayer be set before You as incense, 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 incline my heart to any evil thing, to practice wicked works with men who work iniquity; and do not let me eat of their delicacies. Let the righteous strike me; it shall be a kindness. And let him rebuke me; it shall be as excellent oil; let my head not refuse it." (Psalms 141:2-5)
The background of David to write this psalm may be due to sore temptation in his life, both internal (vv. 3, 4) and external (vv. 9, 10). The fact that almost every verse contains the vocabulary of petition adds to the urgency of David’s request. David prays for God’s attention (vv. 1, 2), for restraint (vv. 3–7), and for refuge (vv. 8–10). Above all, David prays that God would enable him to maintain self-discipline in his daily living!
David starts by requesting that his prayer might be as pleasing and fragrant to God as incense, and that the lifting up of his hands in supplication might have the same impact with the Lord as the evening sacrifice. We should note that the burning of incense is symbolic of the offering up of prayers (Ex. 30:7, 8; Luke 1:10; Rev. 5:8; 8:3, 4).
But then David moves from generalities to specifics. His first concern is that he might be kept from partnership with ungodly men in word or in deed. He asks for a guard to be stationed at his mouth to prevent the escape of any wrong word, to keep the door of his lips from speech that would not be honoring to the Lord. Then he asks for a heart that is free from collaborating with the corrupt men in their wicked practices. He does not want to partake of their advantages, however attractive or tempting they might seem (See Psalms 1:1).
However, David understands that suggestions, criticisms and rebukes of godly friends are welcomed by sensible people. So he prays that some righteous friend of his might reprove him sharply if he yielded to the temptation to practice wicked works with men that work iniquity. Such a reproof would even be a kindness to him. A wise person accepts correction; the person who refuses to listen will finally be destroyed (Prov. 29:1; Heb. 12:1–13). Being accountable to fellow believers is an important check and balance against moral lapse!
We often cannot see faults in ourselves as clearly as we can see them in others. Only those who really care for us are willing to point out our defects and “blind spots.” It is a kindness on their part and should be welcomed like medicine by us.When evil is near us, and evil people tempt us, it is easy to say the wrong thing and it is our hearts that need protection (Matt. 12:34–37). In this regard correction from our well-wishers who are wise can be described as, “faithful are the wounds of a friend” (Prov. 27:6);they may hurt, but like oil they also heal.