A Psalm of David
A Prayer for preservation
1: LORD, I cry unto thee: make haste unto me; give ear unto my voice, when I cry unto thee. 2: Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice. 3: Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips. 4: Incline not my heart to any evil thing, to practise wicked works with men that work iniquity: and let me not eat of their dainties. 5: Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness: and let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head: for yet my prayer also shall be in their calamities. 6: When their judges are overthrown in stony places, they shall hear my words; for they are sweet. 7: Our bones are scattered at the grave's mouth, as when one cutteth and cleaveth wood upon the earth. 8: But mine eyes are unto thee, O GOD the Lord: in thee is my trust; leave not my soul destitute. 9: Keep me from the snares which they have laid for me, and the gins of the workers of iniquity. 10: Let the wicked fall into their own nets, whilst that I withal escape.
Maschil of David a prayer when he was in the cave
In time of trouble
1: I cried unto the LORD with my voice; with my voice unto the LORD did I make my supplication. 2: I poured out my complaint before him; I shewed before him my trouble. 3: When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then thou knewest my path. In the way wherein I walked have they privily laid a snare for me. 4: I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know me: refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul. 5: I cried unto thee, O LORD: I said, Thou art my refuge and my portion in the land of the living. 6: Attend unto my cry; for I am brought very low: deliver me from my persecutors; for they are stronger than I. 7: Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise thy name: the righteous shall compass me about; for thou shalt deal bountifully with me.
Today we are reading Psalm 141 & 142. Psalm 141 is a Psalm of David a hymn of praise and prayer. The Psalm has two verses the first beginning with ‘Lord I cry to you’ and the second ‘Lord I look to you’. The first is a cry of distress and the second a prayer of hope in Gods deliverance. Then in each case David prays, a Shamar It is a prayer of protection. The word was first used of Adam who was the Shamar – keep the Garden of Eden. Then of Cain who said Am I my brothers Shamar – keeper. So David prays here, keep the door of my lips etc and later, keep me from snares. Then he speaks, ‘yet I’ and he describes his determination to keep the Law and latter, ‘yet I’, will escape the punishment of the wicked. It can best be described as follows…
A. I cry to you – help me. v1-2
B. Prayer to be kept Shamar v3-5
C. Yet I v5
D. Punishment of the wicked v6
E. Bones scattered v7
E. Like wood cleaved v7
A. I look to you – help me. v8
B. Prayer to ne kept Shamar v9
D. Punishment of the wicked v10
C. Yet I v10
David says, LORD I cry to you come quickly and listen to my prayer. May my prayer be a sweet smell and the lifting up of hands to you, as at the evening sacrifice. David asks that the LORD will set a guard over his mouth to look after the door of his lips. This is, so that he will not sin in his speaking. He says do not allow my mind to think bad things or to let me do anything that evil men do and may I not eat of their food (having fellowship with them) Then David says something very interesting. He says let the righteous smite me because that will be an act of kindness and when they rebuke me, it will be like very pure oil which heals and will not smash my head in. I will continue to pray even when judgment comes on my enemies. When the judges of the enemy are finally executed they will hear my words because they will be sweet to me. Their1 bones will be scattered at the opening of their graves. It will appear to be like the scattering of wood blocks that are being cut in two and strewn on the ground. What David is describing is what happens when wild animals take dead bodies and eat them scattering the skeleton around the opening of the grave. This would be the final desecration of the wicked. David says, but my eyes are on you and I am trusting in you, do not leave me destitute. Preserve my life from the snares which have been set to catch me. May the wicked fall into their own nets while I escape. Psalm 142 is a teaching Psalm which was written when David was in the cave of Adullam. These great limestone caves were David’s place of safety from Saul. This Psalm is also a double verse hymn.
A. I cried unto the LORD v1-2
B. Trouble – Comfort in v3
C. Enemies v3
D. Friends – desertion of v4
A. I cried unto the LORD v5
B. Trouble – Deliverance from v6
C. Enemies v6
D. Friends – surrounded by v7
So David begins saying, I cried unto the LORD with my voice. It seems that in the scriptures there was no such thing as silent prayer. (apart from Hannah’s prayer) Prayer was spoken out loud in Bible times. David does not seek to escape from facing up to his troubles, rather he faces up to them and brings them all before the LORD, who is able to do something about them. David pours out his complaint to the LORD. He shows the Lord all his troubles. At times David was completely overcome by it all. But it was at those times that the Lord knew his path which was surrounded by snares to catch him. His friends deserted him when he first escaped from Saul. This was a serious wake up call for David, as he began to find out who his real friends were. None of his friend – ‘so called’, gave him hospitality or gave him food. So David cried to the LORD the covenant God. He said, you are my refuge and my portion in the land of the living. He says listen to me because I am brought very low. Deliver me from those who persecute me because they are stronger than me. He says deliver me from the prison so that I will praise your name. Later he says, the righteous have surrounded me and you have given me so much. Often in times of spiritual struggle we change all our friends from those who are not really friends to those who will give their lives for us, as David’s mighty men did. David took a rabble of the discontent and turned them into the most formidable fighting force the world had ever seen.
- What is David asking for in the first Psalm?
- What sort of salvation is he asking for?
- What does David do in time of trouble?
1 ‘Their’ rather than ‘Our’. Vatican B and Alex A. The Syr, Arab, and Ethio read ‘their bones’.