TEXT: Psalm 141:1-5
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.
We all remember King David as the person whom God said was a man after His own heart. Yet, when we think about David, most of us probably remember his transgressions more than we remember his victories. But, the reason why God blessed David is because He knew that David had his heart in the right place. Despite his failures, David desired to live a pure life that was pleasing to God.
This desire is reflected in many of David’s prayers recorded in the Psalms. He says in Psalm 51:10, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” He also wrote, “Purify me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” This desire for living a pure life is also shown in Psalm 141 which is our passage for today. We see in this psalm three prayer requests that David made that reflected his desire to live a life that was free from sin and evil. These are requests that we ought to make for our own lives. Today, we want to examine the prayer for the pure life.
1. David desired communication with the Lord. In verse 1, David says, “Lord, I cry unto thee: make haste unto me; give ear unto my voice, when I cry unto thee.” David was a man who was in communication with God. Through prayer, he talked to God, and he listened to God.
Prayer has a purifying effect on the soul. When you pray, you are stepping into God’s holy presence, and you are inviting God into your life. When you pray, God will bring to your mind unconfessed sin in order for you to get it right so that the answers to your prayers will not be hindered. A person cannot be in sin and pray effectively. As John Bunyan said, “Prayer will make a man cease from sin, or sin will entice a man to cease from prayer.”
When you pray, you are coming face-to-face with God. And, as we all know, if you are lying to someone, hiding something from someone, or trying to do something that you know they will not approve of, it is hard to look them in the eye. It is the same way with God. It is hard to pray to God if you are living in sin.
So, prayer itself has a purifying effect on one’s life. David says in verse 2, “Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.” David wants his prayer and his worship to be as incense — that is, a sweet aroma — to God. Throughout Scripture, and particularly in the Old Testament, God expresses His desire to smell a sweet savour from His people. This sweet savour is caused by their obedience and their worship. When the people are disobedient, God declares in Isaiah, “These people are a stench in my nostrils.”
If we want our prayers to be sweet in the sight of God, we must commit to being obedient to Him. And, if you want to live a pure life — a life that is free from sin — you must desire communication with the Lord as David did. If you are committed to a consistent habit of prayer to God, you will find that it will be very difficult to sin.
2. David desired wisdom from the Lord. In verse 3 he says, “Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.” David asks God to give him wisdom in how he uses his tongue. You can imagine a guard standing at the door of David’s life watching what goes in and goes out. David wants only pure things to go out of his mouth and out of his life.
How can you choose to have only pure things going out of your life? Well, what you put into your life is what comes out of it. That is why David prays in the very next verse, “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.” David does not want any evil thing to be in his heart, because if it is not in his heart, it will not come out of his life. We ought to only allow pure things to enter our hearts and minds. If pure things are in our hearts and minds, then only pure things will come out of our mouths and our lives.
How do we determine what is pure and what is not pure? Well, we do as David does and we ask God for wisdom through prayer. James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God who giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not and it shall be given to him.” What is wisdom? Someone once said, “Wisdom is the ability to see life as God sees it and then respond as He would.”
David wants to live a pure and godly life, so he asks God for wisdom.
1. He asks for wisdom in his words: “set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth.”
2. He asks for wisdom in his heart: “incline not my heart to any evil thing.”
3. He asks for wisdom in his actions: he does not want to “practise wicked works.”
4. He asks for wisdom in his relationships: he wants to stay away from “men that work iniquity.” He does not even want to sit down for a meal with them, so he says, “let me not eat of their dainties.”
The wisdom we can get from God helps us determine what is and is not pure. We will be able to speak, think, and act in a Godly manner if we have God’s wisdom. And, the only way to get that wisdom is to pray and ask God for it.
If we want to live a life of purity, we must be in communication with God through prayer, and we must ask God for wisdom in how we live our lives.
3. David desired friends from the Lord. In verse 5 David says, “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.” We saw in verse 4 how that David does not want to be associated with the wicked, however, we see here that David does not wish to walk the path of purity alone either. He wants “righteous” companions to accompany him on this journey, and he asks God to give him those companions.
What kind of qualities do these righteous friends have? The main thing we see from this request is that David wants friends who will rebuke him when he needs to be rebuked. He says, “Let the righteous smite me…let him reprove me.” Though he is the king, David does not see himself as being above the law or above correction. In fact, he says that when he is rebuked, he will see it as a “kindness” and as “excellent oil” upon his head. He knows that their rebuke will only help him become more faithful to living a life of purity before God.
When Nathan came to David and said, “Thou art the man,” David immediately began the process of confession and repentance. He realized that he needed Nathan’s rebuke because he was not making the situation right on his own.
How many friends do you have who are not afraid to get on you from time to time? If you do not have any, you need to pray and ask God to put those kinds of people in your life. You also must make up your mind to respond to their rebuke as David did. Understand that they are there to help you along in your walk with God.
God wants us to live a life that is pure and holy. Like David, we ought to want to live this kind of life. From David’s example, we have seen three things that we can pray to God about that will help us get on track and stay on track on the road to a life of purity. (1) We must remain in communication with God in order to keep sin out of our lives. (2) We must ask for God’s wisdom in order to determine what is pure and what is impure. (3) We must ask God to give us righteous friends who will rebuke us from time to time and who will help us stay on the straight and narrow road.
The life of purity can be yours if you will go to God in prayer.