Watch My Mouth
There is a well-known children’s song that goes like this,
Be careful little mouth what you say
Oh be careful little mouth what you say
for your Father up above
is looking down in love
so be careful little lips what you say.
Children need this warning—we all do. It is so easy to sin with our mouth. It is even easier when we are interacting with people who oppose or irritate or even hate us. Sometimes we would like nothing better than to shoot out in retaliation and to hit them with a nasty word or insult.
This was David’s struggle. In Psalm 141 he laments being the target of his enemies’ schemes. What they are doing is wicked and unjust, and he prays for God’s deliverance from this persecution.
Yet David knows his prayers won’t be accepted unless he takes care to guard against sin, particularly sins of the mouth. In response to this aggression, he might speak out of anger or in a spirit of unkindness. But he knows this would dishonour his holy God.
Instead, David prays that God would protect the “door” of his lips: “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth” (v. 3).
When someone is guarding a door—like in a bank, for example—they are controlling who goes in, who goes out. That is the kind of scrutiny David asks for, that God would test whatever comes out of his mouth. He wants to be kept from the evil that his enemy is so busy with, and he desires to demonstrate a holy life instead. For this he needs God’s constant help.
James tells us that there is no man who is never at fault in what he says—unless of course, we think of our Saviour. When Christ was being attacked by his haters, falsely accused during his trial, and even physically abused, he did not sin with his mouth (1 Peter 2:22-23). Jesus could have lashed out in anger, but he committed himself to God as Judge, and in his Father’s strength he set a perfect guard over his mouth. This was part of what made Christ an acceptable sacrifice for sin.
Now in Christ’s strength we are called to guard all that we say. We need this divine help, because Jesus says that if we are his disciples, then we’ll definitely encounter hatred and opposition. If you are committed to his Word, you will face unjust accusations, insults, or mockery.
But through Christ’s own example you know how to respond: with a guarded mouth, in patience and truth, even as you defend yourself and pray for justice.
Such a response brings glory to the Father up above, looking down in love!