Set a guard over my mouth, LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips (Psalm 141:3).
We must have heard the warning: “Watch your mouth!” So, we must blush in shame at how often we did not. We know all the excuses. We have used many of them: “I was angry.” “Everyone does it.” “Those are only words. They don’t mean anything.” And worse, “It helps me fit in.” Yet, deep down we know such words should never come out of our mouth.
It isn’t just the cussing and the cursing; not just the filthy talk, and the frightened talk to make us seem tough; but also, the thoughtless talk; the hurtful talk; and the lying talk that make us sound like agents of Satan instead of what we are: ambassadors of the holy God. Many will point out that bad language is found not only in military circles—and they are right.
But it seems that it is hard to find military settings where this language is not found.This doesn’t mean that Christian warriors never regret the words, or never fight against the temptation to use them. But many admit it is a hard fight—and often a losing one.David, the warrior-king, would understand. He waged the same war and knew about that
struggle. Probably, many a time he told himself, “I have to try harder!” “I have to watch my mouth!” But in this psalm, he changes the wording. He asks the Lord God to man the ECP (Entry Control Point, or “the gate”), to control his mouth’s flow of traffic. His prayer is, “Lord, please watch my mouth!”
It’s David’s way of saying, “Savior God, send some help! The enemy keeps swarming by. I can’t maintain control. Please step in!” That’s a wise warrior. He knows when he is outmatched and overwhelmed. He knows that his weapons are inferior, his line of sight minimal, and breaches in his defense perimeter are many.
This is a warrior’s call for reinforcements. It’s a request sent up the chain-of-command for firepower to pour down from on high. “Send in the angels, Lord!” “As angels once guarded your tomb, Jesus, send some now to guard my mouth.” Ironically, the guards are not to keep evil from coming in, but to keep evil from coming out. It’s an admission that our very nature fights against the holy God and everything that is good.
The enemy is inside the wire! An ally of Satan lives within us. It wants to turn us into a martyr for the cause of Evil. It wants to use us to hurt others and destroy ourselves in the process. It’s like a terrorist in a sleeper cell. It wants to use our mouth as its weapon. We can fight against our sinful nature. We must fight against it. But only the holy God can give us the victory over it. Good thing the victory is already ours! Good thing that forgiveness is ours.
So, we pray: Holy, powerful, and merciful God, you know how weak we are, and how easy it is for the forces of evil to control us. Break the satanic grip on our lives. Give us the power and the freedom to live for you and with you. Guard our mouths that they may only be used in the honor of your name and in faithful service for your kingdom. Please, Lord, watch my mouth!
Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain
and Liaison to the Military, Cape Coral, Florida
Provided by WELS Ministry to the Military