1. When are we more likely to pray to God most fervently? (For most of us, it is when we are up against the wall, so to speak. We are in a desperate situation, trouble is upon us and we need help.)
2. When you think of prayer what generally comes to your mind?
When I think of how I should pray, I most often think of the Model Prayer Jesus prayed in Matthew 6.
In our study today, David was in a difficult situation. He may have been fleeing from either King Saul or his own son, Absalom. But as we read his lament he seems concerned about being led into sin and asked God to keep him from this evil.
3. Are you inclined to pray that God keep you from sin as well as protect you from your enemies?
As we look at Psalm 141, let’s try to figure out what or who is causing David the most distress!
The Plea! Read Psalm 141:1-2
1. How would you describe David’s emotional state; Is he peaceful? Distressed? Calm? Anxious?
The word “Lord” used in verse 1 is the covenant name for God.
2. How did David compare his prayers to what took place during worship in the Temple? (Prayers as incense and his praise to the evening offering.)
David had grown spiritually past his time in that he understood that he could approach God directly without a priest.
According to Exodus 30:7-8, offerings of incense were made in the morning and evening, and the raising of hands was a common practice in worship. It indicated both obedience and surrender.
3. Why is an attitude of worship and surrender important when we are asking God to help us?
4. Clearly, David was distressed and anxious when he went to God in prayer in this psalm. Why do we often treat prayer as a last option?
5. What makes some people question whether God hears their prayers? (Maybe they haven’t maintained a close relationship with God during good times, so they wonder if God will hear then in their bad times.)
It is perfectly appropriate for us to ask God for help respectfully, but we don’t have to beg Him. He is persuaded by His love for us, not our fancy words or urgent pleadings. Tim Keller, (Pastor, theologian and Christian apologist) is quoted as saying, “We are more sinful than we ever dared believe…and more loved than we ever hoped!” But we certainly do not have the right to demand anything from God!
1. How many of us need a “guard for our mouth”?
The Requests! Read Psalm 141:3-7
2. Notice in verse 3, David asked for help with his speech, while in verse 4 he asked for protection from the wicked. How are these two requests connected?
3. How do our words reveal our associations and relations?
4. Many translations appear to interpret verse 5 as a faithful friend of David’s. How can we actually help each other obey God? (Because one Christian helping keep another in line with God’s Word is seldom done well or accepted well, many believers avoid this responsibility.)
5. What excuses do we make for not helping a fellow believer in this area? (We say: “It’s not my business” or “They won’t listen anyway” or “They may say clean up your own life before you try to tell me how to live mine.”)
This is one reason we must live circumspect lives!
6. Read verse 5. When have you seen a godly person who has exemplified this psalm for you? (We all need people who will tell us the truth, rather than reinforce what we want to hear. These people truly care, and this care brings us the direction and comfort we crave. If you listen and heed this friend, your relationship and fellowship will grow deeper!)
7. Proverbs 27:6 says, “The wounds of a friend are trustworthy, but the kisses of an enemy are excessive.” Neither this verse nor Psalm 141:5 mean abuse or cruelty. What do they mean?
By the end of verse 5, David has shifted from talking about his own desire for accountability to praying that the wicked would be held accountable for their wickedness. This is not a vindictive prayer, he is simply asking for God’s justice to be carried out.
8. What imagery is used in verses 6-7? (It is a sad fact, but sometimes evil people will not listen until they have suffered the consequences for their sin. Verse 7 seems to describe the righteous suffering at the hands of the wicked. Sheol seems to indicate that some had to suffer to the point of death.)
The truth is wicked people hurt others. David rightly yearned for this wickedness to stop. God also yearns for wicked behavior to stop. He weeps when people hurt each other. As certain wicked influences move out of the picture, teachable people find it easier to hear and heed God’s instruction.
9. Who are a few people to whom you look to help you live a godly life and avoid temptation? (Wife; family; close Christian friends; in general, other Christian friends; lost people I may be trying to share the gospel with around me.)
The Promise! Read Psalm 141:8-10
David has shifted back to focusing on himself rather than the wicked.
1. Notice verse 9. What are some examples of wicked behaviors and the nets those behaviors create? (Sins that are often acceptable in church—gossip can come in many disguises, cliques, critical words, racial prejudice, economic bias, etc.)
2. When do even Christians create nets of evil?
3. Why do we fall into those nets?
4. How would verse 5 help with this?
5. How does keeping our focus on Jesus help us avoid the traps and dangers found in this world?
6. What makes recognizing Satan’s traps so difficult?
7. David lived approximately 3,000 years ago. How long will your influence last? (As far back as we can trace my lineage we have had preachers in my family. My great, great, great grandfather; my great, great grandfather; my great grandfather; and an uncle were all preachers. That’s a period of about 200 years. My prayer is that I will have some influence to pass the gospel on down through future generations also.)
8. What habits, persons, or daily decisions make focusing on God easier? (Sin and temptations are constantly before us, finding areas of weakness we didn’t even realize we had. God’s Spirit will empower us to be faithful no matter what tries to ensnare us.)
We must take both the power of God and the persistence of temptation seriously!
Summarize and Challenge!
Satan will make sure there are traps and snares all around us, trying to destroy our life and witness. But the Holy Spirit indwells each Christian and will give us the power to resist the devil’s temptations. Staying focused on Jesus, staying in His Word daily and listening to trusted Christian friends will help us see the traps and avoid them.
1. How can you help a brother or sister along the way?
2. What prayer requests have been made over the past few weeks that you have seen God answer?
3. How did He answer them?
4. How does seeing God’s answer to prayers give you the confidence to approach Him with your needs?
5. When you face pressures or persecution, does your anxiety increase, or does your prayers and trust in God increase?
Father, thank you that we can worship You privately and together; we can seek wisdom and counsel from other trusted Christians; and we can trust Your protection from our adversaries.
Help us to turn to You this week, Father, for strength in our spiritual lives.