Keeping Watch

I said, ‘I will guard my ways, lest I sin with my tongue; I will restrain my mouth with a muzzle, while the wicked are before me’” (v. 1).

- Psalm 39

One essential duty of a Christian is to guard his actions and speech against temptation. Like a man on a journey, the Christian must plan his path carefully, watching for pitfalls and snares. He must not deviate from his course or tarry long during his journey, for when he becomes lazy Satan is most likely to strike.

In Psalm 39 David says, “I will guard my ways, lest I sin with my tongue.” David exercised caution in dealing with his adversaries, and he watched his life carefully to keep from falling into sin, bringing shame upon the name of the Lord. “He did so because he was conscious of his own weakness and also knew the manifold devices of Satan. He, therefore, looked on the right and on the left, and kept watch on all sides, lest temptation stealing upon him unawares from any quarter might reach even to his heart,” Calvin wrote. Like David, we must examine our souls to know our weaknesses and be constantly aware of what temptations most easily trap us. Too often, we think ourselves much stronger than we actually are. Instead of thinking humbly of ourselves and admitting the weakness of our flesh, we take pride in our ability to remain strong before the gates of hell, while Satan quietly creeps behind us, catching us in our folly. How many times have you put yourself into a situation that you thought you could handle only to find yourself flooded with temptations? How many times have you sinned in thought, word, or deed because you were not on guard against temptation? Many live to regret sin committed when we fail to keep watch over our actions and words.

David here mentions the sin of the tongue in particular. James expounds in chapter 3 how easily this little organ brings pain and grief, how easily we let our mouths run when we should be silent, how we do not watch our conversation and guard against gossip, slander, or unwholesome talk. In all areas of our lives, let us endeavor to be faithful watchmen at the gates of our souls. We are in battle, one against principalities and powers in the spiritual realm. Like any good soldier let us keep a diligent watch over the ramparts of the city that we may see the enemy’s approach from any direction and guard against its fierce and subtle attacks.

Coram Deo

Do you keep watch over your life daily? List areas where you are most prone to temptation. Beside this list write out situations that are most likely to introduce such temptations. Ask God to help you watch for and guard against these temptations throughout the coming week.

Passages for Further Study

Matthew 26:36–46
Colossians 4:2–6
1 Peter 5:6–11

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