Daily Family Worship

Psalm 141: A Prayer in Times of Distress

by | Jul 7, 2024

psalm 141

Few Psalms crowd together so many gems of precious and holy truth in such a small space. There can be little doubt that David, at the time, was in great distress and difficulty. He was driven into exile, far away from the ordinances of God’s worship. He was separated from the altar upon which the high priest was to burn sweet incense every morning. He was nowhere near the evening sacrifice of the lamb, which the Lord had appointed for a burnt offering continually throughout the generations. And not only was he separated from them; but in all probability, he was thrown among an idolatrous people, whose wickedness would vex his righteous soul from day to day. The Greater Son of David once said of His time of trouble, “I am not alone, because the Father is with me”; and in the same way, even in his separation from all that he prized and loved upon earth, David could still go to his pitying Father and pour out his cry unto Him! There was no inherent virtue in the morning incense, nor in the evening lamb, except as pictures and foreshadows of the Messiah Who was yet to come. And no matter where David found himself, his own prayers and supplications would still go up before God – just as the morning incense or the evening sacrifice – as an aroma of a sweet smell, and an acceptable sacrifice that was well-pleasing unto God by Jesus Christ.

This teaches us a valuable lesson. Even in the most unfavorable circumstances, in the very situations which are least suitable for prayer and communion with God, David never forgot nor omitted his own personal morning and evening sacrifices of praise and prayer. It is very unlikely that we will ever be in such a situation as David was when he wrote this Psalm; but we may possibly be thrown into circumstances which bear a great resemblance to it, among those who do not love or serve the Lord. There can be no doubt that such a position is full of peril. Even David – the man after God’s own heart – felt his danger. As we have already said, his righteous soul was probably vexed from day to day with what he saw and heard among the heathen; and accordingly, he prayed that he might be delivered, that God would set a watch before his mouth, and that He would keep the door of his lips closed – lest an inadvertent, rash, or thoughtless expression of his might cause someone who was seeking God to stumble; or lest he might give reason to an adversary to speak reproachfully of the Lord. He felt his own weakness, and he knew the plague of his own heart. He knew how soon the sense and shame of sin is blunted by frequent contact, and he knew how soon the heart begins to wish for the sinful things that thrust themselves before the eye. He was afraid that he might eventually give in to temptation, and sit down in the seat of the scornful, and even eat of their dainties. That is why he makes this a particular subject of his prayer: “Let me not eat of their dainties” (verse 4). Perhaps you may think this a trifling subject of prayer, which is not worth wearying God with; but it is not so. In the very fact that the Lord has left such a prayer upon record, and that His own Holy Spirit suggested the very words – that is one of the sweetest evidences that the Lord does not disdain the feeblest cry nor the humblest need of one of His children’s hearts! If it is a source of trial to a child, and if it something that is causing them sorrow and anxiety and apprehension, it is a subject of interest and concern to a father’s love!

But before we close our study of this Psalm, we see how David gives us the clue as to how – even in this sore temptation – he was enabled, through grace, to resist: “Mine eyes are unto thee, O God the Lord!” (verse 8) There is no safer Guide in times of trial; there is no surer comfort in times of sorrow! The soul of a child of God can never be left destitute when it is looking in humble and loving assurance unto Him Who is the fountain of all blessedness and hope!

Lord, we give thanks to You that in this Psalm, You have given us one of the sweetest evidences that You do not disdain the feeblest cry nor the humblest need of one of Your children’s hearts! Thank You for taking loving interest and concern in anything and everything that is a source of trial, sorrow, anxiety, and apprehension to Your sons and daughters! Amen.

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