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A Prayer Before Retiring

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
September 27, 2020 8:00 am

A Prayer Before Retiring

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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September 27, 2020 8:00 am

Psalm 141 is another in a series of psalms that teach us about worship, and specifically about prayer as a part of our worship. Its both a unique psalm and a difficult one, because prayer itself is often difficult. Join Dr. James Boice as he explains why such an important facet of worship can be so challenging for the believer.

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Sadly, many elements of worship are disappearing from churches today, the singing of hymns. Confession of sin.

The reading of God's word and even prayer.

Psalm 141 is a psalm about prayer and in fact it is a prayer welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet broadcast with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act biblically of all the elements of worship, perhaps none is as integral as prayer and yet prayer is the one aspect of worship with which we often have the most difficulty joining Dr. Boyce as he studies David's evening petition and details the elements of prayer that challenge the believer when they were getting our study of the spinal worship Psalms of the Psalter Psalms 135 to 150. I listed some of the elements that belong in worship services, singing, prayer, confession of sin, reading the Bible and the exposition of God's work.

Those are all practices that have biblical warrant and I pointed out then say again that they need to be recovered in our day because many of not all of them are sadly disappearing for many evangelical churches Psalms that in the Psalter help us make this recovery because they're instructing us in worship what we should pray for how we should worship God.

What we should acknowledge God to be and how we should go about doing that probably sounds at different emphases.

Psalm 135 is about praise Psalm 136 shows how we may reflect on God's past action creation and salvation as a basis for our worship Psalm 139 board one of God's great attributes his omniscience and shows what hearing that has upon worship and how we should approach God and then there are later Psalms that will deal with such matters as singing and even with the use of instruments in worship while Psalm 141 also has a unique emphasis in its emphasis is on prayer back. It is a prayer and it's a prayer where virtually every sentence and every word is a prayer been called an evening Psalm I think not badly because of verse two.

David says, may my prayer be set before you like incense may that lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.

I called it a prayer to God before retiring or other prayers like that Psalms like that.

The Psalter especially at the beginning Psalm foreign Psalm 63 "evening Psalms. Psalm five is a morning song in the liturgical tradition of the church. The Psalms 141 has been used for Vespers five is say service held later in the day. Now it's common and reading scholarly writing about the Psalm to have the expositors tell us that it's difficult and it is in some ways because of the words themselves of the difficulty is to tie the verses together to understand some kind of meaningful flaw.

It's particularly true in the middle portion of the song going to come to that later.

Versus five, six and seven of the difficult ones. But, in my judgment, although those verses are somewhat difficult. The greatest difficulty in understanding and benefiting from this Psalm is not that it's about prayer and we have problems with prayer for most of us. Prayer is difficult and sometimes we even make efforts to avoid the proof of it is the difficulty we have in our own individual prayer lives. It's hard to sustain prayer and in the fact, as I alluded to a moment ago that prayer is disappearing for many evangelical worship services I won't repeat at length what I've said before, but I find as I travel around the country that in many services but hardly any prayer at all and if you asked the reason for that. Why are there no pastoral prayers anymore, even liturgical response. Prayers answer is people today find prayer boring. It's a puzzle listener. I'm sure that's right people to find prayer boring but why is that people in earlier ages than find it to be seldomly suggestive reasons. First reason is that God's thoughts are not our thoughts problem. We have been talking to God is a God is not like us. Isaiah acknowledges that in the 55th chapter verse eight where he says, quoting God, my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways. In the very next verse as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Because we are not like God and don't know God well we're uncertain what we should pray for him and we do pray, we wonder whether we are praying the right are we praying according to the will of God are not that sort of undercuts our enthusiasm for the discipline. The second reason and that is that we don't know our Bible we say well we are ignorant of what God is like.

Certainly the chief reason for that is we don't know the Bible, which is where God is revealed himself. There are always aspects of God that we are never going to understand, chiefly because God is not like us in his ways are not our ways or are his thoughts are thoughts, but many of his ways and certainly a large enough collection of his thoughts to fill up a lifetime of study and are part of in the Bible because we don't know the Bible. We don't even know that what used to be known about God and that also makes it difficult is not true is not one of our problems.

I find the people who know the Bible well done, nearly so much difficulty. Prayer will know the Bible, pray and pray well, we don't pray because chiefly be that we don't really know what understand God's revelation. I have 1/3 reason why I think we have difficulty with prayer and it's that we don't feel in need of God's help, I think the other two reasons were valid ones. God is not like us. We don't know the Bible. Probably the chief reason is that somehow we think we can get along without God and so we don't pray because we don't believe we need him. If we want proof, or that the proof is found in the fact that when we get into trouble. We do pray other words, when we find ourselves in a situation where life is collapsing around us. Relationships of gone sour. We don't know what direction to turn it were afraid of something we find ourselves thrown back on God, and the fact that we don't pray other times is really proof that we feel self-sufficient to get by all right, thank you all by ourselves. Thank you God will get to you than ever we need you.

But in the meantime, we don't bother to pray now in Spanish. Of all the power that he had an authority that he possessed as King David did not feel self-sufficient. All you have to do is reduce almost understand that he knew he was in peril every single day and so he prayed every single day and he prayed powerfully. What is prayer in the Psalm Psalm 141. Does this teach us to pray powerfully and regularly as well. Now first two verses are what I would call an invitation that is a call to God to hear what the psalmist is about to pray for, and since were talking about worship in the place of prayer and worship.

They are the starting place for true worship by definition.

Worship is praising God for who he is and so in order to praise God we have to address them. And that's with these verses do now what I want to suggest here is that the most important moments in our prayer life and in our worship service of the moments before we actually start. That's because those moments are moments of preparation. When we settle our thoughts and remind ourselves that we are coming here to meet with God, or if her praying in the quiet time of our own that were there to meet with God our times with God I worship and prayer times are not like other times good times we spend with our family or our friends or our coworkers at times are valuable. They have importance in and of themselves, but are worship and prayer times are not like that times of worship. We are here to meet with God and so in order to worship. We have to be conscious that what actually meeting with him.

We have to focus our thoughts, we have to ask God to hear our prayers and be sure they were actually praying to them and not merely going through some religious exercise. That is exactly what David is pointing out in verse two of the song. He refers to the various forms of worship were practiced in the temple service of his day use of incense on the one hand, and the offering up of sacrifices, but he is relating each of those practices to genuine prayer and the devotion of the worshiper prophet Samuel told Saul on one occasion to obey is better than sacrifice and defeat is better than the fat of rams.

Now that was the insight of the Old Testament saints and is certainly what David is talking about here. I realize that the essence of worship regardless of the form it takes is actually the devout and seeking spirit of the worshiper. Now we come to verses three through seven, which contained the substance of David's prayer things about which he was concerned, and for which is praying.

Of these five verses verses three and four of the clearest I already said verses five through seven of the difficult one so I suppose the best place to start is with verses three and four. What David is asking God to do here is to set a guard over first.

His mouth, secondly his heart. And third, his actions now.

When he asked God to set a guard over him in these areas. What he's doing is asking God to keep them from transgressions or sin. He wants to live with a pure heart and a pure life particularly fits the image of incense, which was mentioned in the previous verse because everybody in Judaism understood that the incense that was used in the temple had to be prepared meticulously in the be absolutely pure. David is saying I want my prayers to be like that in the five prayers are going to be like that then I'm asking you to set a guard over me that I might not sin and thought, word or deed that we begins with his mouth.

He asked God to guard his mouth so he won't speaks sinfully or in a way that would harm other people now. Secondly, David is concerned about his heart we say where do harmful words come from well the answer is they come from the heart is what Jesus said of the evil man out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks. So if our heart is corrupt.

Our speech is going to be corrupt, but if our heart is pure, then our words will also be pure. We asked the question how can that be how can we ever find a pure heart because our hearts are not pure.

Jeremiah said that heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure, we find a pure heart.

Well, the answer is we can't find it ourselves, but we find it from God, who alone is able to do heart transplants. God is the great physician is a not not only is he able to do it is promised to do it for those who are his people.

Ezekiel quoted God is saying, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you. I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh then goes well known words of Jeremiah talking about the new covenant very man who described our hearts is being deceitful above all things.

Jeremiah wrote this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord.

I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts, for I will forgive their wickedness and I will remember their sins no more.

One who is received a new heart is a product regeneration of the new birth will begin to speak some words and begin to act in a wholesome manner to. That's the third thing the David talks about Dr. about his mouth and his heart and then thirdly talks about his actions that we does it on the negative side, asking God to keep him from being drawn to what is evil or taking part in wicked deeds.

It's what we pray for in the Lord's prayer is that when we say lead us not into temptation about Davis prayer here is not merely that he might be kept from evil. It's also that he might be kept from the company of evildoers, so you won't be tempted to sit down with them at the uses of language eat of their delicacies verse four. This is like the two preceding songs with seamless now for several weeks in a row. David is concerned about the company keeps anyone's got to keep him from the company of those who are evil. I pointed out earlier is not because he thinks he's too good for them, but rather that he recognizes all those evil propensities and himself. It's just not safe for him to be in such company because he understands how easy it is to be led along and that kind of evil company.

David was concerned about that at surprising isn't it because we think of David as being an exceedingly upright man, David was concerned about the corruption of those who were evil and his own character. How much more should you and I be concerned about it.

Shouldn't we also be praying. Let not my heart be drawn to what is evil, or with real meaning lead me not into temptation Derek Kidner about quoted often as one of the good commentators in the Psalms says about the song. There is a Puritan vigor and single-mindedness about the song to put one in mind of Christian and faithful in Vanity Fair. John Bunyan's Pilgrim's progress whose prayer was turn my eyes away from beholding vanity and his reply to the challenge. What will you, but I was. We will buy the truth. Now we come to these problem versus that is five through seven. I want to treat them briefly because of my judgment the new international version probably does as good a job as any and showing a connection with the rest of the Psalm and with each other and ideas done that by adding words a little bit along the way to kind of show the connection that they understand to be there. The link between verse five and verse four seems to be that in verse five, the psalmist, having asked God to keep him from the Lord of evil and evil persons professes his preference for the friendship of the righteous. Even if they reprove him. Proverbs 27 six says wounds from a friend can be trusted. So that's what he seems to be saying there. How about these next verses the begin to talk about people being thrown down from the cliffs and plowing up the ground and bones scattered at the mouth of the grave and so forth. Prince deluge conservative, very good commentator tries to explain those by creating a situation or context for the sole.

He gets in meaning from that time when David was driven from Jerusalem because of Absalom's rebellion in those days. David was cut off from the temple. He was aware of his failures as the king, he welcomed reprove from friendly sources and he prayed for the overthrow of those who had wrongly usurped his power that might very well be reflected in these verses. Now the new international version takes verse seven is being spoken of the wicked who are be destroyed or will be destroyed, their bones will be scattered that much thinks that the words are actually spoken by David and his followers. With this kind of a meaning I quoted him assuming the very extreme, it is a look of hope into the future. Should his bones in the bones of his followers even scattered about the mouth of Sheila would nevertheless be only as one is plowing arose in the earth they don't lie there in order that they may continue lying, but that they may rise up a new is a seed that is sewn sprouts up out of the unturned earth we discern here. He says the hope of the resurrection. Well, it's tempting to take that as the setting for this all go along with diligence propose setting, but this extreme of Absalom's revolt is necessary to explain what David is saying here. Certainly he's talking about welcoming reprove from the righteous.

That's what we should do at any time. We don't have to be driven from the kingdom in order to be sensitive to our need for good counsel and it's also probably best to take David's words about people being thrown from the cliffs and bones being scattered is referring to the just and of people who were trying to do that to other people themselves. In other words it's saying here, in my judgment exactly what David has been saying about those who practice evil in the preceding songs you have it in Psalm one 3889 and Psalm 140 now in the very last stanza, verses eight through 10 we are at the point where this prayer is finished, or since we been making the link between prayer and worship. This is the time when worship ends. In other words, the service is over now. Here the benediction are about ready to go back into the world and so we say to ourselves what should've happened to us as the result of the time we spend together worshiping God. David suggest here is that having been with God and having prayed to God, we should leave with our eyes fixed upon God the world. There are dangers snares of been set for the righteous by the wicked, trapped by evildoers, but if our eyes are fixed on God will be able to walk safely through these dangers and temptations and furthermore we might even be able to be some good in the world out there that certainly needs the gospel. I've been reading in recent weeks book by a woman named Marva Dawn on worship. It's called reaching out without dumbing down was that title of the book that attracted me to it, and there are several places in the book where she speaks. I think rightly of worship. Being a sub burst of activity.

So the people of God come together how divine and renewed vision about what life is all about, because they have their focus now rearrange so that our thinking the way the world thinks anymore, but have their eyes fixed on God are able to go out and actually be some good in the world that definitely needs them, whether it knows that are not referred to Pilgrim's progress. A moment ago quoting one of the commentators person seen from that same allegory by John Bunyan that has always struck me very forcibly pilgrim is making his way up steep path by night toward the porters launch comes to a place where two liens are chained by the path, one on each side. He doesn't know their chained and so is afraid he's about to turn back on the Porter calls out to him, saying, fear not, the liens they are changing her place there for the trial of faith where it is and for discovery of those that have none sheep in the midst of the path and no harm shall come to you so hearing that encouragement pilgrim presses forward, keeping on the straight path by fixing his eyes on the Porter and refusing to look at the liens that were lunging at them from the sides unless the image David is painting is fixing his eyes on God as he makes his way through the dangers of this life that is coming when Jesus will have destroyed those dangers. The author of Hebrews talks about it when he applies the words of Psalm eight Jesus you made him a little lower than the angels you crowned him with glory and honor and put everything under his feet. Yet he acknowledges that passage as yet we see not all things put under him, but he says emphatically.

When we do see is Jesus a little later on in the book in the 12th chapter he makes this application.

Let us that fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down on the right hand of the throne of God considers him who endured such opposition from sinful man, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. That's were all true worship should in you grown weary. You lost heart you afraid of the dangers that are there in the world. Worship is meant to counter that, because as we come together and fix our eyes upon God were able to go out from the worship times renewed and different men and women raising you listening to the Bible study hour featuring the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce God's providence is both general and specific in his providence always has and always will preserve his church. If you'd like to learn more. We'd like to offer you a free copy of our CD entitled the protection of Providence by pastor and professor Barry York. This free CD offers sour way of saying thanks for listening. Call us at 1-800-488-1888 and will be pleased to send you a copy of the protection of Providence.

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Hi Mark Daniels thanks for joining me today. We've all felt times of utter abandonment. It seems we have a friend in the world. Our Lord himself experience this very human emotion as he hung on the cross and David experience that indicated the paddle joy Dr. James Boyce next time as he looks at David's isolation and his cure from Psalm 142 that's next time on Bible study hour bearing you to think and act

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