Today’s Lectio Divina: Excerpts from Psalm 141. (MsgB)
A David Psalm.
God, come close. Come quickly! Open Your ears—it’s my voice You’re hearing!
Treat my prayer as sweet incense rising; my raised hands are my evening prayers.
Post a guard at my mouth, God, set a watch at the door of my lips.
Don’t let me so much as dream of evil or thoughtlessly fall into bad company.
And these people who only do wrong— don’t let them lure me with their sweet talk!
May the Just One set me straight, may the Kind One correct me,
Don’t let sin anoint my head. I’m praying hard against their evil ways!
Oh, let their leaders be pushed off a high rock cliff; make them face the music.
Like a rock pulverized by a maul, let their bones be scattered at the gates of hell.
But God, dear Lord, I only have eyes for You.
When was the last time you noticed how hard it is to live a pure, God-centered life down here on planet Earth?
I’m not sure what your experience has been. For me, a sixty-something year-old guy who’s done his very best to walk with Jesus for most of my life, I’ve found that sticking really close to the Master, day-in and day-out, is not an easy thing to do.
Now, I’ll quickly admit. When I was younger, keeping my eyes off forbidden fruit was harder. And, trust me here, folks, I’m not just talking about sex. As I reflect upon my life, it’s certainly true that sexual temptations in America are big issues, indeed. I mean, you just can’t go anywhere in our culture today where sex isn’t used to get our attention. Madison Avenue executives learned a long, long time ago that sex sells.
But quite honestly, life is full of other strong temptations as well. How many times per day, for example, are you or I encouraged by the world to go ahead and make decisions based on what’s best for ourselves? Forget about how a poor decision might affect our spouse or family. Don’t worry if others are hurt…if it feels good, do it!
Now, as I was saying, when I was younger, I think that powerful pull we feel at times to act selfishly, thinking only about ourselves, was stronger. Looking back now, I know that once I was married and had kids, that little voice of good conscience seemed to grow a bit stronger whenever I was tempted to act in ways that might dishonor my Lord, or my wife, or my kids. Thank God for that little whisper which comes from the Holy Spirit! You know the voice I mean? That little voice, sitting on your shoulder that says, “Marty, think carefully about what you’re about to do…”
As I see it, King David, in Psalm 141, is having one of those ‘little whisper’ moments. Oh yeah, I know, religious folks say that the Bible only contains stories that tell us about the holy people who never sinned. But, quite honestly, that’s a crock of lies. If you read between the lines of much of our Scriptures, you’ll find that all of our biblical heroes, including Jesus of Nazareth, had times when temptations sat on their shoulders, encouraging them how nice it might be if that person acted a bit selfishly.
We know for a fact that King David listened to those voices of temptations at times and got himself into some pretty sticky situations because of it. Thus, this is why I’m thinking that Psalm 141 might just have been written when David was having one of those moments, when temptation was calling his name. Ever been there?
So, with that being the case, I really like what King David does here in battling off the whispers of temptation. First of all, He prays. He asks God to help him in his time of temptation. Rather than going off, hell-bent toward his selfishness, David has the where-with-all to stop a moment and talk to God about his struggles with that sweet-talking whisper that’s tempting him to walk off a cliff.
Secondly, and maybe most importantly, David goes right to the heart of the matter. He talks to God about his eyes. He reminds himself that it is his eyes that are going to make the final decision on whether he is going to stick with God or wander down a path he will later regret.
I love Eugene Peterson’s transliteration of David’s prayer found in The Message Bible.
But God, dear Lord, I only have eyes for You.
This line, in verse 8, kinda reminds me of the classic ballad, “I Only Have Eyes For You” written by composer Harry Warren and lyricist Al Dubin for the 1934 film ‘Dames’ where it was introduced by Dick Powell and Ruby Keeler. Call me crazy, but I’ve often thought that this velvety love song could become one of the best worship songs a lover of Jesus could ever sing. Let me conclude today’s blog with the lyrics of that song. May it help all of us, in times of temptation, to turn our eyes upon Jesus, letting the whispers of sin fall harmlessly to the ground.
My love must be a kind of blind love;
I can’t see anyone but You.
Are the stars out tonight?
I don’t know if it’s cloudy or bright,
’Cause I only have eyes for You.
The moon may be high,
but I can’t see a thing in the sky,
‘Cause I only have eyes for You.
I don’t know if we’re in a garden,
or on a crowded avenue.
You are here,
So am I.
Maybe millions of people go by,
but they all disappear from view,
And I only have eyes for You.
My prayer: Father, when sin comes knocking on my door, tempting me to come out and play, may I be reminded of the way King David fought off his temptation in Psalm 141. He stopped. He prayed. He asked You to help. And then, he sang a song that said that he only had eyes for You! May I sing that song more often, Lord, reminding me that Your desire for me is that I would become a man who is singularly-focused, with my eyes only on You. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: So how have I been allowing my eyes to wander? Looking at things that are not healthy for me or my household? How might I follow the healthy pattern found in Psalm 141 where I stop myself before I answer the door when temptations are knocking? What would being a man who is singularly-focused on God look like today in my life?
So what is God speaking to you today as you ponder the Psalms?
Over a 50-week period, you and I will take a deeper look at The Psalms: God’s Songbook of Prayers. In order to keep all the blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Contemplating the Psalms home page for ease of use. Keep in mind that one of the best ways to explore the on-going applications of this blog series is to walk alongside a biblically-based, Christ-centered spiritual director who is familiar with how to make material like this part of your overall spiritual formation in God. Many of our directors in our Contemplative Activist network are available to companion you in your journey with Jesus. Click here for more info.
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