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.
This simile comes from the sacrificial worship of ancient Israel and suggests that the psalm was set in that context. The incense was valuable and pleasing to the Lord; the psalmist asks for his prayers to be received favorably also. (The Reformation Bible)
Exodus 30:34-36 (ESV)
The Lord said to Moses, “Take sweet spices, stacte, and onycha, and galbanum, sweet spices with pure frankincense (of each shall there be an equal part), and make an incense blended as by the perfumer, seasoned with salt, pure and holy. You shall beat some of it very small, and put part of it before the testimony in the tent of meeting where I shall meet with you. It shall be most holy for you.”
Revelation 8:3-4 (ESV)
And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne, and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel.
3 Set a guard over my mouth, Lord;
keep watch over the door of my lips.
When Bernard Baruch was an ambitious young businessman, he asked the wealthy J. P. Morgan to partner with him in a Texas sulfur mining venture. Geologists had given the project a favorable report, but there was still some risk. Morgan was interested until Baruch said, “You’ve taken bigger gambles than this.”
Morgan glared at him and then replied in an icy tone, “I never gamble.” The word gambles had killed the deal. Morgan thought that investing was respectable but that gambling was a sin.
If one word, innocently misspoken, can cost millions, think of how much damage malicious words can cause. They can ruin a person’s reputation and destroy the closest relationships.
James minced no words in warning about the power of the tongue. He said it’s easier to control a horse, guide a mighty ship, and tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and sea creatures than to control the tongue (3:3-8). He called it a “fire” ignited by hell itself (v.6), and “an unruly evil, full of deadly poison” (v.8).
We all would be wise to pray daily, “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips” (Ps. 141:3).
–Haddon W. Robinson
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.
Or as Jesus taught the disciples (and us) to pray, “Lead us not into temptation, and deliver us from evil.”
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.
Jesus taught us how to pray. HERE is the Lord’s Prayer sung by Andrea Bocelli and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.