The Cry For Righteousness – Psalm 141:1-5

May God Guard Our Speech And Our Hearts From Wickedness

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
My head will not refuse it,
for my prayer will still be against the
deeds of evildoers.

Critical Cry

When we are in trouble, we cry out to God.  And that is the underlying desire that God places in our hearts – to seek Him out.  David, the Psalmist, cries out to God regularly, and petitions God to hear his pleas.  David remembered that God was sovereign, heard his cries, and would help him in his time of need:

6 In my distress I called to the Lord;
I cried to my God for help.
From his temple he heard my voice;
my cry came before him, into his ears.
7 The earth trembled and quaked,
and the foundations of the mountains shook;
they trembled because he was angry.
8 Smoke rose from his nostrils;
consuming fire came from his mouth,
burning coals blazed out of it.
9 He parted the heavens and came down;
dark clouds were under his feet.
10 He mounted the cherubim and flew;
he soared on the wings of the wind.
11 He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him-
the dark rain clouds of the sky.
12 Out of the brightness of his presence clouds advanced,
with hailstones and bolts of lightning.
13 The Lord thundered from heaven;
the voice of the Most High resounded.
14 He shot his arrows and scattered the enemy,
with great bolts of lightning he routed them.
15 The valleys of the sea were exposed
and the foundations of the earth laid bare
at your rebuke, Lord,
at the blast of breath from your nostrils.

16 He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
he drew me out of deep waters.
17 He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
from my foes, who were too strong for me.
18 They confronted me in the day of my disaster,
but the Lord was my support.
19 He brought me out into a spacious place;
he rescued me because he delighted in me.

Wonderful Worship

David requests that his prayers be like incense, a fragrant offering to God.  He also requests that his raised arms be like a sacrifice before God.  In his worship and pleading to God, the Psalmist seeks to pour himself out before God as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to the Rock of his salvation.  David recognized the desire that God placed in his heart to please God in everything that He did.  That didn’t keep David from sinning, but his heart was constantly and consistently turning towards God.

Selective Speech

David asked that his mouth be guarded so that he would not speak evil from it:

A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.

David’s sense of God’s holiness and righteousness were paramount in how he lived his life.  We often carelessly say things to people.  David most likely did the same, and asked that God help him with that.  In addition to pleasing and honoring God in this, there is another good reason to ask for this ourselves:

36 I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, 37 for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.

Determine Desire

David then asks God to help protect his heart from desiring evil:

The heart is deceitful above all things
and beyond cure.
Who can understand it?

Apart from the protection of God in our hearts, they will become corrupt.  In the beginning, it was so bad, that God could only find eight people on earth who were righteous before He flooded it.  He also said something telling about humans as a race of people:

The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled.

This is NOT to say that God makes mistakes.  He knew that we would do what we would do before He created the Earth.  But the pain of watching sin take hold of the hearts of men and what they would do grieved God, even though He knew it would occur.  That is why He sent His One and Only Son, Jesus Christ, to be our final and perfect sacrifice for sin.

God doesn’t make mistakes; He cleans them up.

Righteous Rebuke

David so greatly desired to he draw close to God and do God’s will that he would welcome a rebuke from a righteous man.  To do so would mean that David was somehow in sin, or doing something displeasing to God.  A rebuke from the righteous man would help him to straighten out whatever he was doing wrong, and therefore live in greater harmony with God’s character.  Oil on the head was used as anointing and healing, and David would indeed be blessed if sin that had blinded him was pointed out and addressed.

Evade Evil

David’s prayers were constantly towards the changing of hearts of those who were doing evil.  His prayers weren’t against the evil people per se, but rather against their evil actions.  And while David did get angry enough on at least one occasion to ask that the evildoers have their names blotted from the rolls of the book of life, he generally and genuinely desired that others would join him in his pursuit of God in righteousness and holiness.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I pleading for God to guard my mouth and heart so that I will not sin against him?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, time and time again Your word declares You to be holy and righteous.  Help me to have a better and deeper understanding of just how holy and righteous You are.  Reveal to me the ways that I sin against You so that I can address them and walk ever more closely with Jesus.  Please do not overwhelm me, but gently and gradually help me to not only desire to overcome my sin, but to replace the my sinful desires with a longing for You in my heart.  Holy Spirit, Overpower my wickedness with Your holiness, and strengthen me as I turn from all unrighteousness and walk towards Jesus.  Lord God Almighty, You and only You are able to help me to overcome, for You have overcome.  Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

The Omniscience of God – Psalm 139:1-6

God Knows Everything That Transpires Throughout His Creation

1 You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
5 You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.

Scrupulous Search

David, the Psalmist, regales his understanding of God’s omniscient character.  He first acknowledges that God searches us out to know everything about us.  In another Psalm, he acknowledges that God tests us by day and even by night:

Though you probe my heart,
though you examine me at night and test me,
you will find that I have planned no evil;
my mouth has not transgressed.

God, being perfect, is completely thorough as he searches us out.  David lists several aspects of this search, and the resulting knowledge from the search, that God learns and knows about us.

Perfect Perception

God, being omnipresent, is a witness to everything that transpires in His creation – the universe.  Nothing escapes His attention.  God is completely aware of our every action, and is interested even in the minutest details of what goes on in our lives.  His love is so encompassing, that He wants to know every detail of our activity.  He even pays attention to when we get up and sit down.  His vastness of love ensures that He is aware of even those things that we consider trivial.  He perceives all things, and especially pays attention to all of our ways.  Just as human parents watch their young children, waiting for the “magic moments” when they achieve the next big “mile stone”, such as crawling, so does  our Heavenly Father, with great delight, watch over all that we do as well.

Transparent Thoughts

And it is not just what we do that interests our Heavenly Father, but also what we think.  God has given us amazing minds to perceive and create.  We are truly image-bearers of God, displaying to the world and the angelic realm the glory and the creativity of our Creator.  God especially pays attention to our thoughts (something that no other created being can do):

For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.

But don’t be deceived.  The enemy of our souls has been carefully watching mankind for at least the last six thousand years.  As as the writer of Ecclesiastes states, “there is nothing new under the sun.”  Our enemy has us “pegged” because they have been relentlessly watching us and probing us as well.  And just as Ivan Pavlov examined and conditioned his subjects, so does our enemy know our strengths and weaknesses.  You can learn a lot by observing someone, and even accurately predict what they will do given certain situations and circumstances.  But you don’t actually know what they are thinking; you are just able to make an educated guess.

God, on the other hand, already knows what our thoughts will be before we even have them.  So careful and involved is He in His creation, He leaves nothing to “chance” but knows all things.

Heavenly Hedge

The Psalmist, David, recognizes the sovereign hand of God upon his life.  He sees how God plays an active role in his protection.  God also hems David in to both protect David from others, as well as to guide David to where he should be going.  Paul experienced something similar to this as well:

6 Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. 7 When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. 8 So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. 9 During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.

Unattainable Understanding

As David reviews his thoughts on the knowledge and character of God, he openly admits that such knowledge is too wonderful for him to even being to comprehend.  Since such knowledge is so vast and incomprehensible, David does not even try to attain it.  He merely acknowledges that God is just that good, that full of love, and that wonderful.  And He praises God for in song, and even this song (for the Psalms are songs).

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Are we still amazed at the character and vastness of God through observation of Him and His creation?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, knowledge of You is too wonderful for me.  You reveal Yourself to me through Your Spirit, and it overwhelms me when I think about how vast and great You are.  Help me to always see You in this light so that I would not take You for granted.  Help me to ponder Your goodness and grace, seeking out nuance after nuance, that I might participate in Your character, and know You better.  Give me the ability and the strength to walk in the ways You have already revealed to me about You, so that I would better represent You as Your image-bearer.  Show me wonderful things in Your word, and help me to treasure them in my heart.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Note: This blog has been edited to reflect the proper Psalm # in the title.

Combat Training with God – Ephesians 4:29

What Comes Out Of Our Mouths Is Important

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

Worthless Words

Words have meaning.  The culture around us encourages us to use words that are crass, filthy, empty, and self-serving.  We often find ourselves exposed to this in all forms of media, and social interactions with others.  Whether it is political posturing, movies, music, literary art, or any form of communication, we are told to stop morally tainted and filthy speech from coming out of us.

What we say is the overflow of our hearts.  Our hearts have been transplanted with new ones by Christ when we accepted Him.  It is important as image-bearers of God that what we say reflect His image properly.

Strategic Speech

Not only are we to stop the way we used to talk, and the way that people speak today, but we are to build up one another with our words.  Our words have great power, to build up, or to tear down.  Words spoken today will have a lasting impact not only in the present, but into the far future as well.

It is important that the words we choose have the intended effect that we are trying to bring about.  Each of us should be encouraging one another as the days grow short.  Even for those who do not know God, they should hear what builds them up as well.  The Bible is the revealed Word of God, but we also are God’s mouthpieces as we spread the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Building up those around us is part of the business that God is involved.  He restores and rebuilds upon the foundation of Christ, the solid rock.  It is with this in mind that we are to be building up those who are around us so that they can be prepared for His imminent return.

Profound Principles

What good are words if they don’t benefit the person that hears them?  While we need to be able to communicate joy, sorrow, excitement, loss, and other aspects of the human experience, we should make it a point to ensure that the words that we speak benefit those who listen.

It is imperative that we remember that every word that we speak is being listened to by those around us.  Some seek to put us to the test to verify if what we say matches what we do.  Others may see our joy and try to determine how we are experiencing it in tough circumstances.  In all things, God is working them to good for those that love Him and are called according to His purpose.  As part of His plan, let us be a fountain of insight, wisdom, and profound benefit to all who hear us speak.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Is what comes out of my mouth benefiting others?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have given me a great opportunity to be a blessing to others through what I say to them.  Lead me, guide me, strengthen me, and fill me with Your words that it would be a benefit to all that hear them.  Guard my heart against unrighteousness, and fill my heart with joy and wisdom.  Use my words to build up others and to glorify Your holy name.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?