KEEP GOOD COMPANY
Today I bring myself before you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. You are great and greatly to be praised.
Read PSALM 141
A psalm of David.
1 I call to you, Lord, come quickly to me;
hear me when I call to you.
2 May my prayer be set before you like incense;
may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.
3 Set a guard over my mouth, Lord;
keep watch over the door of my lips.
4 Do not let my heart be drawn to what is evil
so that I take part in wicked deeds
along with those who are evildoers;
do not let me eat their delicacies.
5 Let a righteous man strike me—that is a kindness;
let him rebuke me—that is oil on my head.
My head will not refuse it,
for my prayer will still be against the deeds of evildoers.
6 Their rulers will be thrown down from the cliffs,
and the wicked will learn that my words were well spoken.
7 They will say, “As one plows and breaks up the earth,
so our bones have been scattered at the mouth of the grave.”
8 But my eyes are fixed on you, Sovereign Lord;
in you I take refuge—do not give me over to death.
9 Keep me safe from the traps set by evildoers,
from the snares they have laid for me.
10 Let the wicked fall into their own nets,
while I pass by in safety.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘It is better to heed the rebuke of a wise person than to listen to the song of fools.’1
In this psalm David prays for God to deliver him from evil men and their wicked ways. He desires to be untainted by the kind of evil his enemies are guilty of in their attacks upon him. In the end, he trusts in God’s ability to rescue him and repay his opponents for the harm they have done against him. What is striking about this psalm is the way that David recognizes his own propensity to sin and expresses his need of God’s help to maintain his own integrity by refusing to compromise with wickedness.
David asks God to guard his lips so that he will not say anything that would meet sin halfway (v 3). He realizes that the tongue is ‘a world of evil among the parts of the body’.2 At the same time, he knows that the words we speak are sourced from what is found in our hearts (v 4). Therefore David asks for strength to avoid the influence of evildoers that could easily lead him astray. By wanting to avoid the ‘delicacies’ of the wicked (v 4, i.e. an appetite for all that is morally unsavory), he shows us how important it is to choose our close friends wisely (v 5)! As the Greek poet Menander wrote, quoted by Paul, ‘Bad company corrupts good character’.3
In this world, Christians do not live in a cocoon that prevents all contact with the unrighteous. Nor does God want this, for how will the unsaved hear about Jesus and the gospel if we separate ourselves completely from them? Nevertheless, by ensuring that we nurture our communion with fellow believers who will gently rebuke us when necessary, we will encourage ourselves to continue in the ways of God (v 5). David also acknowledges that surrounding ourselves only with yes-men will not do!
Thank God and pray for those friends of yours whose godly wisdom and example have been a great encouragement to you!
Father God, I ask for friends who will speak the truth in love to me. I know I can so easily wander away from you and I need others to encourage me to stay close to you.
1 Eccl 7:5 2 James 3:6 3 1 Cor 15:33