Oh, Be Careful, Lips and Heart

By Joy-Ann Wood

January 24, 2024

Scripture — Psalm 141:3-4 (NIV)

Set a guard over my mouth, Lord;
    keep watch over the door of my lips.
Do not let my heart be drawn to what is evil…


The Psalmist is viewing God as his source for personal discipline in the middle of his circumstances as he asks God to discipline his speech and his heart.


Every day we talk to people, to so many people in our world.

All of us experience different spheres which make up our world, which would be our home, our office, our school, maybe our gym, hairdresser…etc. Most of us, if not all of us want to say the right thing at the right time, but there are times we blow it.

In Psalm 141:3-4 the Psalmist says:

Set a guard over my mouth, Lord;
    keep watch over the door of my lips.
Do not let my heart be drawn to what is evil…

Why did the Psalmist ask God to set a guard over his mouth?  Did he also experience, like me, days when I wish I had not said what I said to my friend or my supervisor at work?

Is he asking God for a security guard over his mouth?

When we consider our speech on a daily basis, how we talked to our parents when we were teenagers is very different to how we talk to them as aging parents; whether we consider our tone or volume in our speech, these factors reveal a lot about us.

Talking to our sibling—brother or sister who we love dearly—when we are sensitive to the issues going on in our lives is once again different from when we are not affected by external and internal issues in our daily lives.

We have been given freedom to talk but hopefully they are more words of encouragement rather than words of destruction, to tear others down.

Let us consider the aftereffects when we miss and say the wrong thing, or we really did not mean to hurt our sister’s feelings in the church meeting or offend our brother. What do you do and how do you move on to rectify the hurt or misunderstanding?

Hence the Psalmist is prayerfully asking the Lord to set a guard like a muzzle over our mouths. The image which comes to mind is the football/rugby player who wears a guard over his mouth while playing this dangerous sport, to protect his teeth and face.

What is the Psalmist seeking to protect in this situation?

We could conclude he’s seeking to protect himself and others by not saying the wrong words from which later would come much regret, for one person or for all persons involved.

Here the Psalmist is also viewing God as his source for personal discipline in the middle of his circumstances as he asks God to discipline his speech and his heart.  Further on we see, the Psalmist says, “Do not let my heart be drawn to what is evil…”

It is implied that temptation lurks around the Psalmist in this daily life, similarly as for us as well. The reflection in our inner heart should be a focus for us too as we seek to draw closer to Almighty God. Confirming that bad company can indeed corrupt good morals (1 Cor. 15:33), therefore he is prayerfully committing himself to God for direction, not to detour off the righteous path but to maintain a heart inclined to godly living.

As we commence this year, the constant commitment of our bodies to God is necessary in our desire to please God.


Do you find it challenging to think before speaking?

Are you generally thoughtful in your tone as well as body language when speaking to others, whether family members and/or co-workers/supervisor, etc.?


Ask a friend you feel comfortable with and trust to hold you accountable this week/month in your speech especially during times of frustration and/or anger.

Ask your friend to pray with you on this commitment to honor God with your speech.


Dear Lord, we thank you for the gift of speech. Thank you that we can communicate with our family and friends as we speak to them daily.  As we desire to honor You in all we say and do, may we daily give you our speech, and on challenging days when we may be tempted to say something harmful to another individual, increase our self control as we yield ourselves to be guided by your Holy Spirit.  We give you all the honor, glory and power, in full surrender. Amen.

Banner image by Nick Fewings on Unsplash.

Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the High Calling archive, hosted by the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Avoiding the Sweetness of Evil.

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Joy-Ann Wood

Author & Guest Contributor

President Caribbean Baptist Youth Department, Caribbean Baptist Fellowship HR Professional United Nations Development Programme Joy-Ann Wood is a Christian who is not ashamed to let the world know that she loves the Lord. As Im...

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