The Wounds of a Friend
Lord, at the rising of the dawn and the setting of the sun, I will rejoice in You.
Read PSALM 141:1-10
A psalm of David.
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“To be truly biblical, as well as truly effective, the growth process must include the Body of Christ” (Henry Cloud). An echo of the words in verse 5!
This is a psalm of personal lament, a prayer uttered by an individual facing the temptation to react to the evil done to him by adopting the patterns of behavior and language of the ungodly. There are some problems in the text of the psalm, so that the translation, especially of verse 6, is uncertain. However, two things are very clear in regard to the writer’s response to temptation.
First, he takes refuge in God; he flees to the Lord who can guard his lips from speaking evil (3) and his eyes from envying, and so wishing to imitate the way of the wicked (8). He acknowledges the temptations of the belly: the godless people whose lifestyle he fears enjoy “their delicacies” (4) and the sight of a well-spread table can become a snare. It is God alone who provides safety and protection in a world which assaults our eyes, mouths and bodies.
Second, the writer is not alone in the struggle for godliness; he is part of a community (5) in which there is a duty of mutual accountability and care, so the writer expects and welcomes the correction and rebuke of his fellow pilgrims. How far is such a model of a believing community known to us today, or has the extreme individualism of our culture made it impossible? Many years ago I wrote the following words in the margin of my Bible beside verse 5: “Oh that all believers (me included) could always truly and sincerely make such a statement and put it into practice.” God’s grace and mercy are our greatest resource, but we should not neglect the strength, support and guidance available to us through the friendship and honesty of believing friends.
Are we willing to receive with gratitude the rebuke of a righteous person? Do we have the grace and tenderness of Jesus to offer such a rebuke to a friend? Be honest before the Lord.
Heavenly Father, I need Your tenderness and mercy. When giving correction, I ask for directness and tenderness. When receiving correction, I ask for humility to receive it and learn from it.