An Evening *Prayer

Psalm 141

An EasyEnglish Translation with Notes (about 1200 word vocabulary) on Psalm 141

Gordon Churchyard

Words in boxes are from the Bible. Words in brackets, ( ), are not in the *Hebrew Bible.

The notes explain some of the words with a *star by them. A word list at the end explains the other words that have a *star by them.

The translated Bible text has yet to go through Advanced Checking.


Jesus said, "What will a man have if he buys the whole world but loses his own soul?" (Mark 8:36) (The soul is the part of us that lives when our body dies.)

Psalm 141

  (This is) a psalm of David.

v1   *LORD, I am praying to you. Come to me soon.
  I am talking to you. Please hear what I am saying.

v2   When I pray to you it will be like *incense.
  When I raise my hands (to you)
  it will be like an evening *prayer.

v3   *LORD, do not let my mouth (speak *evil words).
  Listen to what my lips (are saying).

v4   Stop me wanting to do what is wrong.
  Do not let me go with *evil people to do what is wrong.
  Do not let me eat in their *feasts.

v5   If a good man hits me, he is being kind (to me).
  If he is angry with me, it is like *oil on my head.
  I will not say "no" to it.
  I am always praying against what bad people do.

v6   They will throw their rulers down
  from the rocks on the sides of the hills.
  Then they will know that my words were true.

v7   (They will say) "as people break the earth (to plant seeds),
  so they will throw our bones down to *Sheolí.

v8   But *LORD, my eyes are looking to you, (my) *Lord.
  I am hoping that you will give me help.
  Do not let (people) kill me.

v9   Keep me (away) from the *snares they have put (to catch) me.
  (Keep me away) from the *traps that *evil (people) have hidden for me.

v10   I pray that their own *nets will catch these *evil (people).
  And I pray that I will be safe as I pass (the *nets).

The Story of Psalm 141

Some Bible students think David wrote this psalm when Absalom tried to kill him. Absalom was Davidís son. Absalom wanted to be king. He did not want David to continue as king. As David left Jerusalem, we have some of his *prayers. We say *prayers when we talk to God. Psalm 3 is a morning *prayer. Psalm 4 is an evening *prayer.

Perhaps Psalm 141 is another evening *prayer. In verse 2, we read about "incense" and "raising hands". David was not near the *temple in Jerusalem. The *temple was the house of God. It was a *tent made of animal skins when David was king. So David could not burn incense to God as they did in the *temple. Incense made a nice smell when they burnt it. David prays that his *prayers will be "like incense". Also, he could not sacrifice (kill for God) animals. They did this as the "evening sacrifice" at 3 oíclock each afternoon. Instead, David raised up his hands to God.

David wrote Psalm 141 in Hebrew. Hebrew was the language that David spoke. The Hebrew words of verses 5-7 are very difficult to translate. This translation is nearly the same as that in the New International Version of the Bible. There are many other translations of these verses. Some Bibles leave them out!

What Psalm 141 means

Verse 3: Here David prays that God will not let him say bad things. He wants God to "listen to what my lips are saying". And he wants God to stop him "speaking *evil words". The Hebrew Bible talks about the mouth as being like a door. Through it, words come out into the world. "*Evil" means "very, very bad".

Verse 4: "*Feasts" are special meals (or parties) that people have. In this verse, they are the *feasts that *evil people have as part of their religion. Davidís religion was *Jewish. He did not want to have the religion of these *evil people. Our religion is how we love and obey our god (the god that we believe in).

Verse 5: This is a hard verse to understand. Maybe what David is saying is this: If a good man is angry with me, I will listen to what he says. The oil is not motor oil, but from a plant called the *olive.

Verse 6: This is another hard verse to understand. Perhaps what it means is this: Soon people will throw bad leaders down mountains so they die. Then people will know that David was right and not Absalom.

Verse 7: This is yet another hard verse! *Jews believed that people went to *Sheol when they died. It was under the earth. Maybe the verse means this: People will die Then people will throw their bones on the ground as like of wood or earth when people break them.

Verse 8: Here are two words, *LORD and *Lord. They are not the same in Hebrew. *LORD is the *covenant name for God. A *covenant is when two people (or groups of people) agree. Here, God agrees to love and give help to his people. His people agree to love and obey God. The other word, *Lord, means "master". As Godís name, it tells us that he has authority. He is the great ruler of everything! David says "My eyes are looking to you". It means that David is hoping that God will send him help. David is looking for help from God.

Verses 9 and 10: Here are three words that mean the same: snares, traps and *nets. People used these to catch animals or birds. His enemies put traps to catch David. They put them in places where David would not see them. He would not see them until the snare caught him! But David prayed that he would pass the *nets and be safe. He prayed that the snares, traps and *nets would catch his enemies.

Something to do

1.  Read again Psalms 3 and 4 in the set of psalms.

2.  If you have a Bible, read about Absalomís rebellion. The rebellion was when Absalom wanted to be king. He tried to kill King David. The story is in 2 Samuel chapters 15-19.

Word List

covenant ~ two people have agreed what each should do (here, God and his people). Look in Psalm 120 about the covenant.

evil ~ very, very bad.

feast ~ a meal with much to eat and drink; a party.

incense ~incense makes a nice smell when you burn it.

Jew ~ a person who is born from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their children.

Jewish~ a word that describes a *Jew or anything to do with a *Jew.

LORD ~ the *covenant name for God (in a *covenant you agree with someone).

net ~ thin *rope that you tie together; you use it to catch fish.

oil ~ not motor oil, but from a fruit called the olive.

olive ~ a fruit.

prayer ~ you say a *prayer when you speak to God.

rope ~ strong material that we use to tie things together.

Sheol ~ *Jews believed that you went to Sheol when you died.

snare ~ people used this to catch animals or birds.

temple ~ a place where people meet to worship God.

tent ~ a home or building made from animal skins.

trap ~ thing that you catch animals or birds in.


© 1999-2002, Wycliffe Associates (UK)

This publication is written in EasyEnglish Level A (1200 words).

December 2002

Visit our website: