1 O Lord, I call upon you; hasten to me!
Give ear to my voice when I call to you!
2 Let my prayer be counted as incense before you,
and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice!
3 Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth;
keep watch over the door of my lips!
4 Do not let my heart incline to any evil,
to busy myself with wicked deeds
in company with men who work iniquity,
and let me not eat of their delicacies!
5 Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness;
let him rebuke me—it is oil for my head;
let my head not refuse it.
Yet my prayer is continually against their evil deeds.
6 When their judges are thrown over the cliff,
then they shall hear my words, for they are pleasant.
7 As when one plows and breaks up the earth,
so shall our bones be scattered at the mouth of Sheol.
8 But my eyes are toward you, O God, my Lord;
in you I seek refuge; leave me not defenseless!
9 Keep me from the trap that they have laid for me
and from the snares of evildoers!
10 Let the wicked fall into their own nets,
while I pass by safely.
I really liked this psalm because there is a cry to the Lord, an emphasis in being protected from sin, and ultimately the refuge of the Lord in the dangers to society.
The first two verses is David is calling to the Lord in his prayer and requests for God’s mercy. There is a desperation in David’s need for the Lord to supply and in his need. He asks that his prayer to the Lord would be as incense which is a beautiful smell that comes forth. It is interesting for David to pray that his prayers would smell nice, but I think it means that the prayers of David that are offered to the Lord would be pleasing in the sight of God.
Verses 3-5 give insight to the prayers of David and what they are for himself. They are for God’s protection against the sinful nature and the deeds of the flesh. David asks the Lord that his mouth would be protected, that he would not dishonor God with his lips and the words that he uses. A guard is used to prevent and restrict certain words that are wicked. This is like the passage in James where he warns the dangers of the tongue that is not tamed or protected. David also prays that his heart would not be set toward evil, but toward the Lord.
Verse 5 is especially powerful considering the need for godly discipline and rebuke to keep on the straight path. David may have been reminded of the discipline and rebuke he received at the hand of Nathan the prophet who opposed him when he committed adultery with Bathsheba. It is the kindness of God when he sends righteous people to rebuke us so we may continue to follow God and serve him wholeheartedly.
However, there seems to be some righteous people who are doing wrong, who have evil deeds. But despite all of this, David puts his trust and his eyes toward the Lord. The Lord is his refuge even when people attack him and seek his life. In the same way as David, we have hope that the Lord is our refuge in our time of trouble and difficulty.