This year I have been reading the Bible chronologically. This is the first time that I have done that. It has proven especially enlightening as I have read the Psalms closer to the historical context in which they were written. In my journal one morning, I wrote, “The Psalms were written in real life situations. They were not arbitrary poetic thoughts. They flowed from trials and triumphs, despair and deliverance, doubt and hope.”
David wrote Psalm 141 during a time of intense pressure. Those who want to do him harm and evil surround him. For context, you can read 1 Samuel 21-24. It is interesting that though David wanted justice and deliverance, this Psalm is more about his concern for his own conduct during that time. He is trusting God with justice, and he is depending on God to help him to do the right thing.
“Lord, set up a guard for my mouth; keep watch at the door of my lips.” (v.3) He was concerned about His words. He wanted God to control His speech.
“Do not let my heart turn to any evil thing or perform wicked acts with men who commit sin. Do not let me feast on their delicacies.” (v. 4) David’ concern was that his heart might turn to evil and that he might resort to evil. From 1 Samuel, we know that several rough, disgruntled people who joined with him during these trials. On different occasions, they encouraged him to avenge himself on King Saul. He prayed to be able to stay righteous in wicked company.
“Let the righteous one strike me— it is an act of faithful love; let him rebuke me— it is oil for my head; let me not refuse it. Even now my prayer is against the evil acts of the wicked.” (v. 5) David prayed for accountability. He valued those who would correct him when necessary. One of the glaring differences between Saul and David was how they handled correction. When Samuel corrected Saul, he clung to power and went mad. When Nathan corrected David, he repented and endured the Lord’s discipline. Correction is an act of love, and it should be given and received as such.
What I learn from David’s life is that when the pressure is on, I need to lean on God even more than before. It is too easy to crack under the pressure and try to excuse it. It is when the pressure is on that I need to be most disciplined in my words and actions and seek out even more accountability to others.