I only have eyes for you — Psalm 141

Psalms of David

“I only have eyes for you,” as well as being a popular song written in 1934, with several cover versions, including one by Art Garfunkel which reaced number 1 in the UK charts in 1975. The phrase is a possible interpretation of the Hebrew translated as “my eyes are towards you” in verse 8 of this psalm. The popular song is a love song of commitment to love one person. The psalm talks of looking only to God in time of trouble. The two meanings overlap.

A record sleve for the vinyl single I only have eyes for you by Art Garfunkel on CBS records. The sleve contains the artist name and song title and a half lit photograph of Art Garfunkel.

The books of Psalms are roughly themed like this:

Book 1: Psalms 1 – 41: God is beside us.
Book 2: Psalms 42 – 72: God goes before us
Book 3: Psalms 73 – 89: God is all around us.
Book 4: Psalms 90 – 106: God is above us.
Book 5: Psalms 107 – 150: God is among us.

A Psalm of David

141 
O Lord, I call upon you; hasten to me!
    Give ear to my voice when I call to you!
Let my prayer be counted as incense before you,
    and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice!

Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth;
    keep watch over the door of my lips!
Do not let my heart incline to any evil,
    to busy myself with wicked deeds
in company with men who work iniquity,
    and let me not eat of their delicacies!
Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness;
    let him rebuke me—it is oil for my head;
    let my head not refuse it.
Yet my prayer is continually against their evil deeds.
When their judges are thrown over the cliff,
    then they shall hear my words, for they are pleasant.
As when one ploughs and breaks up the earth,
    so shall our bones be scattered at the mouth of Sheol.

But my eyes are towards you, O God, my Lord;
    in you I seek refuge; leave me not defenceless!
Keep me from the trap that they have laid for me
    and from the snares of evildoers!
10 Let the wicked fall into their own nets,
    while I pass by safely.

Psalm 141 ESVUK

The life of David was not an easy one, after winning Israel the victory by killing the Philisine Goliath he served King Saul. But Saul turned against him and Davis spent time hiding from Saul who wished to kill him. After Saul dies David became king, but the reign was not easy. David was deposed as king by his son Absolom but regained the throne on Absolom’s murder by Joab, one of David’s generals. David got things wrong, David knew trouble but David knew God.

Knowing God makes all the difference.

This psalm is a prayer. It talks of David’s words being like incense, like the incense that was burnt in the temple and the evening sacrifice. David would have been in exile, or looking back to his time of exile when he would not have been able to visit the temple, in his day a tent where sacrifices were offered. Yet he calls on God anyway, the first thing he asks for is that God puts constraints not on those who wish to harm David, but on himself.

We need to keep our desire to hit out in pain, for revenge. If there is to be any vengeance it is for God, not us to decide. This incudes hitting out verbally, our words can cause untold harm. We need to keep ourselves away as far as possible from those who would harm other people. If we are rebuked for anything we should accept it for people who want to help us will tell us what parts of our lives need to be fixed.

The next two verses are a bit of a problem. Is David asking for judges to be thrown over cliffs and ploughs to be broken. The problem is that although this is preceded in the psalm by “Yet my prayer is continually against their evil deeds.” and therefore we can assume that these are the sorts of things David’s enemies did, there is no record of them happening in the Bible, even so the context is that David is asking for the poetic justice of them falling by their own schemes. In any case that is what David asks for in the last two verses, where traps snares and nets are used poetically for the same thing, David is praying that his enemies will fall into the traps they themselves had set for David.

David asks God not to leave him defenceless, David is not without defence while he looks to God, and David only has eyes for God.


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