Set A Watch, O Lord, Before My Mouth

Psalms 141:3 – “Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.”

THERE IS AN OLD children's nursery rhyme that says, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” It sounds quite good; however, as we all can attest, words do hurt, words do bring harm, and words cause great problems.

The tongue of man can either bring forth life or death. James, Chapter 3, beginning with Verse 5, says, “Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasts great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and has been tamed of mankind. But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:5-8).

Then, in Verse 10, James says, “Out of the same mouth proceeds blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.

I think it can be said that an unruly tongue has destroyed marriages and relationships, has split up churches, and even has caused young believers in the Lord to get discouraged and lose their way with the Lord. Not long ago, I heard someone say that the hardest thing for a Christian to do is to “tame his tongue.” When I heard that, two things came to mind. First, I agree. Secondly, the reason man can’t tame the tongue is that he tries to do it through his own efforts and labor when the fact is that the only way it can be done is by our yielding our tongues to the control of the Holy Spirit.


1. Slander: The dictionary defines slander as “the utterance of false charges or misrepresentations which defame and damage another’s reputation.”

In Romans 1:29, Paul used the word whisperers, and in II Corinthians 12:20, whisperings. Both the singular and the plural mean “slander, gossip, backbiter, an accuser, secret detractors who pretend secrecy and carry out accusations against men, whether true or false, blasting their reputation by clandestine gossip.”

Actually, when one slanders another or when one passes gossip about someone, he is, in reality, murdering that person’s reputation. Do not pass over this statement lightly. To slander another person is to murder his reputation and degrade his character in the eyes of those who are told such things.

There is no such thing as idle gossip or slander. How many people believe horrible things about someone simply because someone said something about him? As James said, we can either bless or curse, and if you can’t bless someone’s reputation, then please don’t curse his reputation. As the old adage goes, “If you can’t say something good, then don’t say anything at all.”

In saying this, please don’t get the idea that one can’t point out wrong doctrine. That’s totally wrong. If one’s doctrine is wrong, then we must, for the sake of the sheep, speak up. However, we leave it at that. We deal with the error and not the heart or motivation.

2. Judging: In Matthew, Chapter 7, Jesus taught on judging. Without a doubt, it is one of the most misunderstood passages in the Bible. In Verse 1, where the Lord says, “Judge not, that you be not judged,” this actually refers back to Verses 25 through 34 of Chapter 6. There were those in the early church who were mired in poverty, which caused others in the church to judge them as having committed sin, and the poverty was a judgment of God. This is exactly what Job’s friends did. The Lord was simply telling us not to judge one’s heart according to circumstances. Yet, in Chapter 7, Verse 20, the Lord plainly states, “Wherefore by their fruits you shall know them.” Our fruits should be judged. We don’t judge one’s heart, but we do judge the fruit of one who calls himself a believer. John 7:24 references this: “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.”

Only the Lord knows the heart of the individual, so let’s not try to play God.

3. Doubt: Doubt is speaking words of doubt regarding God and His divine provision. When one speaks words of doubt, it, in effect, calls God a liar and places doubt about His ability to perform what He has promised. Think about what you just read. To speak doubt is to call God a liar. From our lips, we will either speak faith or doubt. To speak faith is to speak life; to speak doubt is to speak death.


We are to follow the words of David in this great psalm: “Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.”

What David is saying is that we are to yield our tongue and our words to the Lord. We are to allow Him to stand, if you will, as the guardian of our lips. We are to daily yield our tongues to the Lord that we might become an instrument of praise and encouragement and not an instrument of doubt, slander, judgment, and death.

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