A man wearing a black t-shirt and boxing gloves is throwing a punch.

A Reflection on the Striking Example of Kindness From Psalm 141

One of the challenging duties as a Christian is warning people about their errors. This is especially the case in light of the world’s notion of supposed relative truth. In addition to that ideal, it is also necessary to consider the damage that such corrections may cause. Friendships could be lost, bonds broken, and more. Even though these may happen, one part of the text of Psalm 141 teaches us a proper response to correction. The pertinent text reads as follows, 

Set a watch, Yahweh, before my mouth. Keep the door of my lips. 4 Don’t incline my heart to any evil thing, to practice deeds of wickedness with men who work iniquity. Don’t let me eat of their delicacies. 5 Let the righteous strike me, it is kindness; let him reprove me, it is like oil on the head; don’t let my head refuse it; Yet my prayer is always against evil deeds.

Psalm 141:3-5

In the above, David is speaking to God and asking Him to keep the door of his lips. Requests to help him not do wickedness continues into verse 4. “Don’t incline my heart to any evil thing,” he says, with the implication being that he may be tempted to do ungodliness. Although not immediately apparent, we can recognize this by the closing statement of “Don’t let me eat of their delicacies.” 

I connect those words with the idea of temptation because eating together is a common example of community. When I see people eating together I expect that there is a connection between them. Especially when we remember that such behavior is typical of our natural families, in the church, and elsewhere. I don’t think it is a stretch to say that the people who share in the delicacies mentioned above also have a connection.  However, it isn’t one that we should be a part of.

David wisely asks God to not let him eat of their delicacies. This is a good example for us to learn from. After all, don’t we often become like those we spend time with? As we eat with others, we learn their likes, dislikes, mannerisms, ways of thinking, and more. Routinely eating with those who work iniquity can be risky if doing so tempts us to become like them.

David’s Surprising Change of Focus

I write all this to get us to David’s response after the reference to the delicacies. What he says amazes me. 

Let the righteous strike me, it is kindness; let him reprove me, it is like oil on the head; don’t let my head refuse it;…

Psalm 141:5 

When I read this last week I was stunned. It prompted me to question myself concerning my own responses to correction. Have I ever considered it kindness for a brother to physically keep me from sinning? What if he punched me? What about verbal reproof and chastisement? Have I ever considered those to be a blessing?

I may have responded to some of those actions positively, but I cannot say that is the case often. I can recall times where I have become argumentative or defensive much more easily. In contrast to that, the text here describes such corrections as being received in a good light. David even describes them as a kindness.

Isn’t that remarkable?

Have I ever been so humble to think that way when I am corrected or physically kept from sinning? Again, I find such a response amazing, and I hope you benefit from reading the above and reflecting on it just as I have the last week. 

May we all strive to follow God and not fall into temptations, knowing that when the righteous correct us it is truly a loving act. 

Image Used

A Boxer Punching by TheDigitalArtist from Pixabay.