Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch at the door of my lips.
I. LIP-SINS: THEIR CAUSE.
1. Impulsive temperament. Like as a stroke from the whip, which would only make the common cart-horse slowly shake his head, but would send the thorough-bred flying over the hedge in a very tornado of rage, so there are men who are never roused to hasty speech, they never get into trouble that way; whilst others, quick-witted, agile-minded, swift to see what can be said on any given subject, - they are apt to think that all that can be said must be said, and with sad unwisdom they haste to say it. These are the "good talkers;" unhappy ones, they should rather be called.
2. Vanity. A liking to show off, coupled with the consciousness that they can do so if they choose.
3. Want of self-control. There are times when even cautious, well-balanced men are driven out of their wonted self-restraint, so great is the provocation they have received; but there are others who never seem to put any check upon themselves, but yield to every impulse and follow at once every prompting of their uncontrolled thoughts; they need no great provocation, but will pour out their multitude of words on any and every occasion, whether wise or otherwise.
4. Evil temper and mere thoughtlessness are other causes of much of the unguarded and hasty speech with which the world is afflicted; and so is:
5. The lack of real religion, of the fear of God, and of the sense of the seriousness of life and conduct.
II. THEIR CONSEQUENCES.
1. To the speaker himself.
(1) "In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin." The man who lets his tongue run on unrestrained is sure to say something that will bring guilt on his soul and burden on his conscience.
(2) Weakening of the character and will. The invaluable blessing of strength of will is only won by diligent self-restraint and watchful self-recollection; but it is sapped and wasted by unguarded and multitudinous speech.
(3) Loss of reputation. Men reckon one another up, and a man of many words never wins their confidence; they almost instinctively distrust him. Thus the man may do himself real harm, and lessen his influence, and misrepresent his own character.
(4) Such loose unrestrained talk rarely bears reflection; it is generally followed by much regret and sadness and repentance.
2. To the hearer of such unguarded speech. Great harm may be done. "You drop, in the thoughtlessness of conversation, or for the sake of argument or wit, some irreligious, skeptical expression; it lodges in the memory of a child or a servant; it takes root in a soil favorable to such seed; it gradually springs up and brings forth fruit in disregard of religious duty, neglect of the means of grace, and the various steps of a downward course, the end of which no one can tell. This is all too common a case. But there is a Being who knows where it began." We little know what great things from little ones may rise. And how often, in loose unrestrained speech, we inflict cruel and needless pain I We did not think to do harm, but it is done all the same. And what an ill example we set to those who hear us; and one so apt to be followed!
3. And to those spoken of. They are likely to be misrepresented. From careless good nature we may commend some who, if we do not censure and warn against them, we, at least, should be silent concerning them. Or, on the other hand, and a more likely case, those of whom we speak so carelessly are likely to be injured, and perhaps seriously, and a false impression given of them, which they by no means deserve. How repeatedly the Scriptures give warning on this subject (see Proverbs 18:21; Proverbs 15:2, 7; Matthew 13:36, 37; James 1:26, etc.)!
III. ITS CURE.
1. Prayer. The text is a prayer. It will be God's special grace that alone can conquer this too common sin.
2. Cultivate the habit of thoughtfulness and self-recollection. Lift up your heart to God for his aid in this matter, when you go into company where temptation to this sin is likely to beset you.
3. Vows of silence for given periods. These will tend to strengthen the habit of self-control.
4. Seek and cherish love to your fellow-men - to do to them as you would they should do to you.
5. And because as the tree is so will be its fruits, therefore seek the grace of God, that you yourself may be possessed and sanctified and kept of the Holy Spirit. Then shall ways and works and words be alike good. - S.C.
Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.: —
I. FOOLISH TALKING (Ephesians 5:4).
1. Some persons are so indisposed to sobriety of thought, and have so long accustomed themselves to regard seriousness as bordering upon stupidity or gloom, that the gravest concerns lose in their conversation every symptom of importance. The wisest reflections are encountered with unmeaning laughter; and conclusions of the highest moment are repelled by a paltry effort at a jest.
2. Of another class, more numerous, and, if it be possible, equally thoughtless, the conversation is altogether and uniformly idle. Day after day, at home and abroad, you hear nothing drop from their lips which manifests a cultivated mind, or a desire of mental improvement. Everything is trifling.
II. THOSE WHICH ARISE FROM IMPATIENCE AND DISCONTENT.
1. Of this description is hasty and peevish language in common life. Thus domestic comfort is perpetually invaded by little uneasinesses, little bickerings, little disagreements; and at length perhaps falls a sacrifice to the multiplication of inconsiderable wounds. Is this to be kindly affectioned, tender. hearted one towards another? Is this to walk in love? Is this to imitate the gentleness of Christ?
2. But some men advance to bolder manifestations of impatience and discontent. Not only is their fretfulness querulous, vehement, and acrimonious in domestic and in social life; but, after tormenting man, it shrinks not from insulting God. They repine at His dispensations: they murmur against His providence. Having received so much is this your gratitude, to be indignant that you have not obtained more? Does not He who knows all things discern whether it is better that you should enjoy a greater or a less portion of His gifts?
III. THOSE WHICH MAY BE REGARDED AS THE OFFSPRING OF CONTENTION. "Be ye angry, and sin not" If anger in its lowest degree overtake you, beware of transgression. Sin after sin is the usual consequence of anger; and among the first sins which arise from anger are sins of the tongue. The irritated mind unburdens itself in passionate language. When the heart glows with resentment, heat and vehemence of language betray the inward flame. The tongue of rage blazes fiercer and fiercer; and abstains from no injury towards man or towards God. Is this to be the disciple of the meek and holy Jesus? Is this to imitate Him who, when He was reviled, reviled not again, etc.? Wily does the Almighty permit provocations to assail thee, but to prove thee, to know what is in thine heart, whether thou wilt keep His commandments or no; whether thou wilt obey the headlong impulse of wrath; or strive through the grace of thy God, and for the sake of pleasing Him, to remain unmoved?
IV. THOSE SINS OF THE TONGUE WHICH OWE THEIR ORIGIN TO VANITY AND PRIDE. The boastful man speaketh of himself and seeketh his own glory. His heart is lifted up; his mouth uttereth proud things; he giveth not the honour unto God; he vaunteth himself against the Most High. Not unfrequently wickedness itself becomes his boast. He openly triumphs in the violence with which he has borne down an opponent. Solicitous in every circumstance of life to magnify himself, he speaks contemptuously and degradingly of others; and the more contemptuously and degradingly in proportion as he apprehends that they may be advantageously compared with him, or may stand in the way of his enterprises and projects.
V. CENSORIOUSNESS. Some persons are censorious through carelessness; some through selfishness; some through anger; some through malice; some through envy. According to the difference of the sources from which censoriousness springs, its guilt is more or less flagrant. But even when it arises from carelessness, deem it not a trifling sin. You are not careless concerning your own character, your own welfare. Are you not to love your neighbour as yourself?
VI. THOSE SINS OF THE LIPS WHICH ORIGINATE IN A BUSY AND MEDDLING SPIRIT; sins which, if not in themselves of a deeper hue than some which have already been mentioned, often prove more extensively destructive to the peace of society (Ecclesiastes 10:11; Proverbs 11:13; Proverbs 17:9; Proverbs 18:18; Proverbs 26:20; Leviticus 19:16; 1 Peter 4:15; 1 Thessalonians 4:11).
VII. THOSE OFFENCES WHICH FALL UNDER THE GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF DECEIT. Of these the most prominent is open falsehood. The liar destroys the foundation of all confidence, whether in the public dealings of men one with another, or in the retirement of domestic life. The falsehood, however, of the lips frequently shows itself in the form of slander, which is but a more refined, and therefore more mischievous, mode of lying. What were the engines of sin by which ruin was brought upon mankind? An open falsehood and a disguised slander. As the imitators, the slaves, the children of the devil, all liars, whether they deal in open falsehood or in lurking slander, are objects of detestation to Almighty God (Proverbs 6:17; Proverbs 12:22; Revelation 21:8).
VIII. VIOLATIONS OF MODESTY (Colossians 3:8; Ephesians 5:3, 4). There is no sin which is more odious in its nature, more expressive of a depraved and polluted heart. Christ hath called you unto holiness. You are required to be holy, as He was holy; pure, as He was pure.
IX. PROFANENESS. This sin comprehends every irreverent expression concerning the Deity, His titles, His attributes, His providence, His revelation, His judgments.
(T. Gisborne, M. A.)
PeopleDavid, Psalmist, Saul
TopicsDoor, Guard, Lips, Mouth, O, Watch
Outline1. David prays that his suit may be acceptable
3. His conscience sincere
7. And his life free from snares
Dictionary of Bible ThemesPsalm 141:3
LibraryThe Incense of Prayer
'Let my prayer be set forth before Thee as incense, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.'--PSALM cxli. 2. The place which this psalm occupies in the Psalter, very near its end, makes it probable that it is considerably later in date than the prior portions of the collection. But the Psalmist, who here penetrates to the inmost meaning of the symbolic sacrificial worship of the Old Testament, was not helped to his clear-sightedness by his date, but by his devotion. For throughout …
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