Reading through the Bible together
Jesus teaches us to pray “…lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one…” (Matthew 5:13). This is also what David prays for in this psalm – deliverance from evil men and to be kept from temptation. His prayer is a desperate cry for help, but also an act of worship since his prayer is compared to incense; which was burned during worship services in the Old Testament. Ellen White writes: “While engaged in our daily work, we should lift the soul to heaven in prayer. These silent petitions rise like incense before the throne of grace; and the enemy is baffled. The Christian whose heart is thus stayed upon God cannot be overcome. No evil arts can destroy his peace. All the promises of God’s word, all the power of divine grace, and all the resources of Jehovah are pledged to secure his deliverance” (Gospel Workers p. 254).
David is aware of his need for deliverance from his enemies and from temptation (vs. 4). And he keeps his eyes on God (vs. 8) - he knows where to turn to for help. David is also concerned about the words he speaks (vs.3). Sometimes we, too, are tempted to say unwise, tactless, unkind or even dishonest words. We need to pray like David that God will keep our hearts from evil, for “… out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34).
Another beautiful sentiment arises out of this psalm. David values true friendship (vs. 5). True friends help to keep us on the “straight and narrow”, and have the courage to tell us when we’re headed in the wrong direction. In her book Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 667, Ellen White writes how David blesses Abigail because of the rebuke she spoke to him when he would have acted unwisely towards Nabal (1 Samuel 25).
May we too value true friends and bless them when they speak to us with wise, God-given advice.