David was obviously in deep distress when he wrote this psalm. No biblical author, inspired by the Holy Spirit, portrays a wider range of human emotions than David in his psalms. When we struggle emotionally, we can remind ourselves that we are in good company. David was a man after God’s own heart.
The psalm begins similarly to many others, but includes two vibrant metaphors (Psalm 141:1-2, ESV):
O LORD, I call upon you; hasten to me!
Give ear to my voice when I call to you!
Let my prayer be counted as incense before you,
and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice!
David then asks God to guard his lips, his heart, his hands, and his mouth (3-4, ESV):
Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth;
keep watch over the door of my lips!
Do not let my heart incline to any evil,
to busy myself with wicked deeds
in company with men who work iniquity,
and let me not eat of their delicacies!
Believers bless fellow believers when they admonish them in righteous love. Iron sharpens iron.
Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness;
let him rebuke me—it is oil for my head;
let my head not refuse it.
Yet my prayer is continually against their evil deeds (5, ESV).
While David accepts the rebukes of the righteous, he prays continually for God to thwart the evil deeds of the wicked. And he trusts that God will soon bring their destruction.
David is confident that ungodly leaders will be cast down from their positions of power. Then the people they have misled will be able to hear and understand David as he speaks the words of God.
When their judges are thrown over the cliff,
then they shall hear my words, for they are pleasant (6, ESV).
Death stalked David.
As when one plows and breaks up the earth,
so shall our bones be scattered at the mouth of Sheol (7, ESV).
Saul and other enemies came close to taking David’s life many times. And they would not have been satisfied with merely killing him, but they would have scattered his bones in their violence. Yet David trusted in God. He continued to hope for life and deliverance. Even when we feel as if our bones have been broken and scattered at the mouth of hell, God never leaves us or forsakes us. We look to him for refuge and rescue (8-9, ESV):
But my eyes are toward you, O GOD, my Lord;
in you I seek refuge; leave me not defenseless!
Keep me from the trap that they have laid for me
and from the snares of evildoers!
God’s arm is not short. He can make the schemes of the wicked become their own snare.
Let the wicked fall into their own nets,
while I pass by safely (10, ESV).
God confounds Satan’s schemes and those who work evil in ways beyond our imagining. He will turn their wicked plots completely around so that they are trapped in their own nets. While they thrash wildly, God will lead us safely past.
God will remove evil men from power. He will overturn Satan’s schemes and trap the evil man in his own net. Then he will take your hand and walk with you past the thrashing horror. Trust in the Lord!