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. (Psalm 141:3-5 ESV)
We over estimate ourselves when it comes to living out our faith. Perhaps no where is that more evident than in the words that we speak. The mouth reveals the things of the heart. As Jesus explains, “it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person… what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person.”
If David, the man after God’s own heart, doesn’t trust his own heart and mouth, how much less should we trust ours? David is willing to admit that the activities of the evildoers are “delicacies.” They are tempting and we are foolish to think that we have the strength to continually refrain. Perhaps we can succeed in our restraint for a time, but our own strength will not last. The spirit may be willing but the flesh is weak. We need God to restrain us!
David too acknowledges how it is that God often brings this restraint – through the rebuke of the righteous man. When someone confronts you with a sin, you are wise to listen. Do not go on the defensive but consider the words – even if they are not all true. There is usually something to be learned in any rebuke, even when motivated by revenge rather than kindness. The writer of Proverbs helps us here,
Whoever corrects a scoffer gets himself abuse,
and he who reproves a wicked man incurs injury.
Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you;
reprove a wise man, and he will love you.
Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser;
teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning. (Pr 9:7-9)
Are you like the scoffer or the wise man when it comes to rebuke?
Chronological Reading Plan plus Psalms: Ps 56, 120, 140-142