Reading: Psalm 141:5
Let a righteous man strike me—
that is a kindness;
let him rebuke me—
that is oil on my head.
My head will not refuse it,
for my prayer will still be
against the deeds of evildoers (NIV).*
I don’t like being proven wrong. I like to think I have this world figured out. I am wise in my own eyes. A proud heart tells me I am right. Isn’t that so?
Am I the only one who suffers from this affliction—this deceptive pride that blinds me to my errors? Of course not. Human pride puts blinders over our eyes. We have trouble seeing our own faults. We often need others to gently, or sharply bring them to our attention. Better is open rebuke than hidden love (Proverbs 27:5).
Here in Psalm 141, David confesses his need for correction: Let a righteous man strike me—that is a kindness; let him rebuke me—that is oil on my head.
Do we see sharp correction as a kindness? Do we see a rebuke as a blessing like oil poured on our head? In today’s culture the thought of oil being poured on someone’s head has little appeal. But that was not the case in ancient times. Olive oil was a high-value commodity. Using it for personal grooming was considered a luxury. Only the wealthy would lavish themselves with such extravagance.
For David these words would bring back the memory of the occasion when the prophet Samuel anointed him to be king over Israel in place of King Saul. So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David (1 Samuel 16:13).
Earlier, Samuel had rebuked Saul for his disobedience. See 1 Samuel 13. Saul did not receive that rebuke well. There was no repentance on his part. On the other hand years later when Nathan, the prophet, rebuked David for his sin with Bathsheba, David repented and sought the LORD with prayer and fasting. See 2 Samuel 12. The contrast between Saul’s response and David’s response to corrective rebuke is striking. David, the man after God’s own heart, received forgiveness and the mercy of God, while Saul became embittered and ultimately descended into witchcraft.
How we handle correction will determine the rise or fall of our career, our marriage, and ultimately our life with God. David learned to love rebuke. For him and for us, it can result in a course correction of eternal worth.
Response: LORD God, please correct me when I err. When others point out my faults, help me to receive that correction with grace and not anger. Lord Jesus, you alone are faultless. Forgive me. Amen.
Your Turn: Is it difficult for you to receive correction? What can make receiving correction easier?