The Door of My Lips

January 11, 2019

Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips! Psalm 141:3

David must have had some memorable experiences with his big mouth and other big mouths. He certainly had the opportunity to do so. He was raised with a whole ball team of brothers. He had a critical father who wasn’t proud of him. He had eight (yes—8!) wives, and all the children that go with them. Just the relationships inside his family had to have been breeding grounds for plenty of big-mouth rumbles. Then he became king and was surrounded by the most political people of the day. He was the second king of Israel, and as all leaders are, was subject to second-guessing and criticism. He was a military man, and you can imagine the intensity of those dialogues. He knew first-hand the backlash of pain and destroyed relationships that came from improper, ungodly use of the mouth. He had been wounded and had wounded.

That’s the likely explanation for the prayer recorded in Psalm 143. He was being pursued and persecuted by jealous Saul. He knew he was vulnerable to making a bad situation worse. He could speak in a wrong way and cause more friction and chaos. Or, he could use his mouth to speak life and healing. He knew his tendencies, so he passionately prayed:

Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips! Psalm 141:3

We don’t have all the complications David had—I’m pretty sure none of us have eight spouses 😊—but our lives and relationships are complex too. If we desire happiness in our relationships with people and confidence in relationship with God, we need to take responsibility for our big mouths. Asking God to put a guard over our lips is a great place to start. A nameless wise person put it this way: “Lord, fill my mouth with worthwhile stuff and nudge me when I have said enough.” Another added, “Keep your arm around my shoulder—and put your hand over my mouth if necessary.”

  • Consider making David’s prayer your own, and put a printed copy in the places where you are most tempted and likely to misuse your words.
  • Run a daily evaluation of the way you have used your words. Anytime God shows you that you have been out of line, apologize in person without excuses. A few meals of humble pie may help you be more careful.