March 29, 2019 • Life for Leaders
Do not let my heart be drawn to what is evil
so that I take part in wicked deeds
along with those who are evildoers;
do not let me eat their delicacies.
In Psalm 141, David wrestles with the temptation to do what’s wrong. As in many other psalms, there is a concern in Psalm 141 about the threats of the wicked to the psalm writer’s well-being. But here the main danger is not that the wicked might harm David through their violent deeds. Rather, he thinks they might tempt him to join them in their sin. Thus David prays, “Do not let my heart be drawn to what is evil so that I take part in wicked deeds along with those who are evildoers; do not let me eat their delicacies” (141:4).
Notice that David acknowledges the apparent sweetness of evil. He refers to the actions of those who do wrong as “delicacies.” The Hebrew word used here comes from a root that means “pleasantness, beauty, or sweetness.” It is used in the Song of Solomon to depict the physical beauty of a lover (Song of Solomon 1:16). It can also describe the pleasant taste of food (Proverbs 9:17) or the delightful sound of music (Psalm 81:2). Sin can appear to be a delicacy, something pleasurable to be enjoyed and savored.
Yet David knows that such appearances are deceiving. Beneath the sweetness of evil lies a bitter, rotten core. So he asks the Lord to help him avoid it: “Do not let my heart be drawn to what is evil.”
Sin usually begins, not with a rush to action, but with our inner being, with subtle temptation, with seemingly harmless intrigue, with a drawing of our hearts that we can at first ignore. But if we lean our hearts in the direction of evil, if we allow its seeming sweetness to tantalize us, then we’re well on our way to “taking part in wicked deeds.”
We avoid the sweetness of evil by tending our hearts, by acknowledging our temptations and turning from them. Yet we are not able to do this in our own strength. We need the Lord’s help. And that help will be provided if we ask and incline our hearts, not toward sin, but toward God.
Something to Think About:
What kinds of sin can seem sweet to you?
When you’re tempted, what do you do?
To what are you inclining your heart?
Something to Do:
Talk to the Lord honestly about the temptations you’re facing these days. Ask for the ability to see the sin that draws your heart as it truly is, not as something truly sweet and delicious.
Gracious God, like David, I can sometimes feel the lure of sin. It can indeed seem sweet, something that will give me delight. But I know the truth about sin and its corrupting influence.
So I pray as David prayed. Help me, Lord, to incline my heart not toward evil but toward you. Keep me from taking part in wicked acts. Help me to see that the apparent delicacies of evil are actually poisonous to my soul.
Lead me not into temptation but deliver me from evil. Guide me to walk in your paths. Fill my heart with a desire for you and your holiness. Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary:
When Work is a Pleasure (Song of Songs 1:9-2:17)
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.