By Ben W. Curtis
Pastor, First Baptist Church, Tracy City
Apart from the occasional, “Father, please give us safe travel,” how often do you pray for God’s protection? While it is entirely appropriate to ask God to watch over us physically, I fear that we do not ask for His spiritual protection nearly enough. Jesus taught us to pray this way: “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matthew 6:13). During His high priestly prayer, He asked the Father to keep His followers from the evil one (John 17:15).
As much as we desire to live a life pleasing to God, when someone unjustly attacks us and they are clearly in the wrong, there is a real temptation to respond in an ungodly way. In Psalm 141:1-2, David shows us where to turn in times of such trial. His first impulse is to urgently cry out to the Lord, “Hasten to me!” Each time we express our dependence upon Him in this way, it is like the evening sacrifice and the fragrant incense that pervaded the temple (Revelation 5:8; 8:3-4). God is very pleased when we come to Him in time of need, because it demonstrates that He is our ultimate help and hope.
In verses 3-5, David’s prayer for protection is driven by a desire to be kept pure from ungodliness. Praying for protection means asking God to guard our mouths so that we are not drawn into the evil speech of those attacking us (v. 3). Have you considered that your greatest need for protection may be from your own self, especially the way you use your tongue (James 4:9-12: Ephesians 4:29-30; 5:4; Proverbs 13:3; 21:25)? Praying for protection also means asking for discernment in the company we keep and the places we go (Psalm 141:4). It’s so easy to be enticed by the lifestyles of others. Sin can look like a mouthwatering delicacy, but it is ultimately bitter and destructive. We need to be spiritually alert and self-controlled in our everyday decisions, even those that seem inconsequential (Proverbs 12:26; I Peter 5:8-9). Finally, praying for protection assumes a willingness to be rebuked and corrected (Psalm 141:5). When God or a trusted Christian friend corrects us, we should follow David’s example and think of it as a healing oil (Proverbs 27:6; Hebrews 12:5-11).
In the last section, David takes a firm stance against evil and once more asks the Lord to preserve him. In the latter part of Psalm 141:5, he says, “My prayer is continually against their evil deeds.” We are accustomed to praying “for” people, but sometimes it’s appropriate to pray “against” evil people that their wicked deeds will come to an end (v. 10; Revelations 5:8; Ephesians 6:10-18). Despite the terrifying plans of his enemies (Psalm 141:7), David maintains a fixed focus: “But my eyes are toward you, O God, my Lord; in you I seek refuge; leave me not defenseless” (v. 9). In a world that is saturated by evil, if we are to escape the traps laid for us by Satan and if we are to escape the evil snares of our own hearts, we must learn to run to our spiritual protector.
“Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it” (I Thessalonians 5:23-24).