Psalm 141:3
Parallel Verses
New International Version
Set a guard over my mouth, LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips.

New Living Translation
Take control of what I say, O LORD, and guard my lips.

English Standard Version
Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!

New American Standard Bible
Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips.

King James Bible
Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
LORD, set up a guard for my mouth; keep watch at the door of my lips.

International Standard Version
LORD, set a guard over my mouth; keep watch over the door to my lips.

NET Bible
O LORD, place a guard on my mouth! Protect the opening of my lips!

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
Lord Jehovah, set a guard at my mouth and a guard for my lips

GOD'S WORD® Translation
O LORD, set a guard at my mouth. Keep watch over the door of my lips.

Jubilee Bible 2000
Set a watch, O LORD, upon my mouth; keep the door of my lips.

King James 2000 Bible
Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.

American King James Version
Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.

American Standard Version
Set a watch, O Jehovah, before my mouth; Keep the door of my lips.

Douay-Rheims Bible
Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth: and a door round about my lips.

Darby Bible Translation
Set a watch, O Jehovah, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.

English Revised Version
Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my tips.

Webster's Bible Translation
Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.

World English Bible
Set a watch, Yahweh, before my mouth. Keep the door of my lips.

Young's Literal Translation
Set, O Jehovah, a watch for my mouth, Watch Thou over the door of my lips.
Parallel Commentaries
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

141:1-4 Make haste unto me. Those that know how to value God's gracious presence, will be the more fervent in their prayers. When presented through the sacrifice and intercession of the Saviour, they will be as acceptable to God as the daily sacrifices and burnings of incense were of old. Prayer is a spiritual sacrifice, it is the offering up the soul and its best affections. Good men know the evil of tongue sins. When enemies are provoking, we are in danger of speaking unadvisedly. While we live in an evil world, and have such evil hearts, we have need to pray that we may neither be drawn nor driven to do any thing sinful. Sinners pretend to find dainties in sin; but those that consider how soon sin will turn into bitterness, will dread such dainties, and pray to God to take them out of their sight, and by his grace to turn their hearts against them. Good men pray against the sweets of sin.

Pulpit Commentary

Verse 3. - Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips (comp. Psalm 39:1). David's was a hasty, impetuous temper, which required sharp control. He strove to "keep his own mouth with a bridle" - to " be dumb with silence, and hold his peace" - but this was not always possible for him of his own unassisted strength. He therefore makes his prayer to God for the Divine help.

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth,.... While praying, as Jarchi and Kimchi; that he might not utter any rash, unguarded, and unbecoming word; but take and use the words which God gives, even the taught words of the Holy Ghost; or lest, being under affliction and oppression, he should speak unadvisedly with his lips, and utter any impatient murmuring and repining word against God; or express any fretfulness at the prosperity of the wicked, or speak evil of them; especially of Saul, the Lord's anointed, for the ill usage of him;

keep the door of my lips; which are as a door that opens and shuts: this he desires might be kept as with a bridle, especially while the wicked were before him; lest he should say anything they would use against him, and to the reproach of religion; and that no corrupt communication, or any foolish and filthy talk, or idle and unprofitable words, might proceed from them. The phrase signifies the same as the other; he was sensible of his own inability to keep a proper watch and guard over his words, as was necessary, and therefore prays the Lord to do it; see Psalm 39:1.

The Treasury of David

3 Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.

4 Incline not my heart to any evil thing, to practise wicked works with men that work iniquity, and let me not eat of their dainties.

5 Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness: and let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head, for yet my prayer also shall be in their calamities.

6 When their judges are overthrown in stony places, they shall hear my words; for they are sweet.

Psalm 141:3

"Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth." That mouth had been used in prayer, it would be a pity it should ever be defiled with untruth, or pride, or wrath; yet so it will become unless carefully watched, for these intruders are ever lurking about the door. David feels that with all his own watchfulness he may be surprised into sin, and so he begs the Lord himself to keep him. When Jehovah sets the watch the city is well guarded: when the Lord becomes the guard of our mouth the whole man is well garrisoned. "Keep the door of my lips." God has made our lips the door of the mouth, but we cannot keep that door of ourselves, therefore do we entreat the Lord to take the rule of it. O that the Lord would both open and shut our lips, for we can do neither the one nor the other aright if left to ourselves. In times of persecution by ungodly men we are peculiarly liable to speak hastily, or evasively, and therefore we should be specially anxious to be preserved in that direction from every form of sin. How condescending is the Lord! We are ennobled by being door-keepers for him, and yet he deigns to be a door-keeper for us.

Psalm 141:4

"Incline not my heart to any evil thing." It is equivalent to the petition, "Lead us not into temptation." O that nothing may arise in providence which would excite our desires in a wrong direction. The Psalmist is here careful of his heart. He who holds the heart is lord of the man; but if the tongue and the heart are under God's care all is safe. Let us pray that he may never leave us to our own inclinings, or we shall soon decline front the right.

"To practise wicked works with men that work iniquity." The way the heart inclines the life soon tends: evil things desired bring forth wicked things practised. Unless the fountain of life is kept pure the streams of life will soon be polluted. Alas, there is great power in company: even good men are apt to be swayed by association; hence the fear that we may practise wicked works when we are with wicked workers. We must endeavour not to be with them lest we sin with them. It is bad when the heart goes the wrong way alone, worse when the life runs in the evil road alone; but it is apt to increase unto a high degree of ungodliness when the backslider runs the downward path with a whole horde of sinners around him. Our practice will be our perdition if it be evil; it is an aggravation of sin rather than an excuse for it to say that it is our custom and our habit. It is God's practice to punish all who make a practice of iniquity. Good men are horrified at the thought of sinning as others do; the fear of it drives them to their knees. Iniquity, which, being interpreted, is a want of equity, is a thing to be shunned as we would avoid an infectious disease. "And let me not eat of their dainties." If we work with them we shall soon eat with them. They will bring out their sweet morsels, and delicate dishes, in the hope of binding us to their service by the means of our palates. The trap is baited with delicious meats that we may be captured and become meat for their malice. If we would not sin with men we had better not sit with them, and if we would not share their wickedness we must not share their wantonness.

Psalm 141:5

"Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness." He prefers the bitters of gracious company to the dainties of the ungodly. He would rather be smitten by the righteous than feasted by the wicked. He gives a permit to faithful admonition, he even invites it - "let the righteous smite me." When the ungodly smile upon us their flattery is cruel; when the righteous smite us their faithfulness is kind. Sometimes godly men rap hard; they do not merely hint at evil, but hammer at it; and even then we are to receive the blows in love, and be thankful to the hand which smites so heavily. Fools resent reproof; wise men endeavour to profit by it. "And let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head." Oil breaks no heads, and rebuke does no man any harm; rather, as oil refreshes and perfumes, so does reproof when fitly taken sweeten and renew the heart. My friend must love me well if he will tell me of my faults: there is an unction about him if he is honest enough to point out my errors. Many a man has had his head broken at the feasts of the wicked, but none at the table of a true-hearted reprover. The oil of flattery is not excellent; the oil so lavishly used at the banquet of the reveller is not excellent; head-breaking and heart-breaking attend the anointings of the riotous; but it is otherwise with the severest censures of the godly: they are not always sweet, but they are always excellent; they may for the moment bruise the heart, but they never break either it or the head. "For yet my prayer also shall be in their calamities." Gracious men never grow wrathful with candid friends so as to harbour an ill-feeling against them; if so, when they saw them in affliction, they would turn round upon them and taunt them with their rebukes. Far from it; these wisely grateful souls are greatly concerned to see their instructors in trouble, and they bring forth their best prayers for their assistance. They do not merely pray for them, but they so closely and heartily sympathize that their prayers are "in their calamities," down in the dungeon with them. So true is Christian brotherhood that we are with our friends in sickness or persecution, suffering their griefs; so that our heart's prayer is in their sorrows. When we can give good men nothing more, let us give them our prayers, and let us do this doubly to those who have given us their rebukes.

Psalm 141:6

This is a verse of which the meaning seems far to seek. Does it refer to the righteous among the Israelites? We think so. David surely means that when their leaders fell never to rise again, they would then turn to him and take delight in listening to his voice. "When their judges are overthrown in stony places, they shall hear roll words; for they are sweet." And so they did: the death of Saul made all the best of the nation look to the son of Jesse as the Lord's anointed; his words became sweet to them. Many of those good men who had spoken severely of David's quitting his country, and going over to the Philistines, were nevertheless dear to his heart for their fidelity, and to them he returned nothing but good-will, loving prayers, and sweet speeches, knowing that by-and-by they would overlook his faults, and select him to be their leader. They smote him when he erred, but they recognized his excellences. He, on his part, bore no resentment, but loved them for their honesty. He would pray for them when their land lay bleeding at the feet of their foreign enemies; he would come to their rescue when their former leaders were slain; and his words of courageous hopefulness would be sweet in their ears. This seems to me to be a good sense, consistent with the context. At the same time, other and more laboured interpretations have their learned admirers, and to these we will refer in our notes from other authors.



Psalm 141:3 Additional Commentaries
Context
Come to Me Quickly!
2May my prayer be counted as incense before You; The lifting up of my hands as the evening offering. 3Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips. 4Do not incline my heart to any evil thing, To practice deeds of wickedness With men who do iniquity; And do not let me eat of their delicacies.…
Cross References
James 1:26
Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.

1 Samuel 21:2
David answered Ahimelek the priest, "The king sent me on a mission and said to me, 'No one is to know anything about the mission I am sending you on.' As for my men, I have told them to meet me at a certain place.

Psalm 34:13
keep your tongue from evil and your lips from telling lies.

Psalm 39:1
For the director of music. For Jeduthun. A psalm of David. I said, "I will watch my ways and keep my tongue from sin; I will put a muzzle on my mouth while in the presence of the wicked."

Proverbs 13:3
Those who guard their lips preserve their lives, but those who speak rashly will come to ruin.

Proverbs 21:23
Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity.

Micah 7:5
Do not trust a neighbor; put no confidence in a friend. Even with the woman who lies in your embrace guard the words of your lips.
Treasury of Scripture

Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.

set a watch

Psalm 17:3-5 You have proved my heart; you have visited me in the night; you have …

Psalm 39:1 I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue: …

Psalm 71:8 Let my mouth be filled with your praise and with your honor all the day.

Micah 7:5 Trust you not in a friend, put you not confidence in a guide: keep …

James 1:26 If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridles not his tongue, …

James 3:2 For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, …

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