Discover His heart: Because He loves us so, He perfects and changes us through His messengers
No one likes to be criticized. I’ve never started the day with the thought I hope someone criticizes me today so that I can grow and improve. Critical words can disrupt a friendship and destroy family ties, yet when those words come from pure intent, they can change us and make us more like Him. David was facing an enemy in our reading today. We don’t know for certain if he was trying to save his own life from the king who had gone rogue or if it was in battle; but in the midst of it all, David opened his life to criticism as he prayed to the Lord for help.
@ Psalm 141
David’s heartfelt prayer that he offered in a difficult circumstance is an example for us of the contrition and humility we should exhibit in the challenges we face. His first step was surrender, “Accept my prayer as incense offered to you, and my upraised hands as an evening offering.” (2) His arms were raised in surrender to the One who would help him. David offered plenty of suggestions of what God could do to his enemies, but his first action was one of surrender.
David surrendered the most difficult member of his body according to James 3:6; he surrendered the words of his mouth. “Take control of what I say, O Lord, and guard my lips.” (3) How easy it is in the face of criticism and pressure to spout off the first thing that comes to mind, but it’s rarely a good thing. Guard our lips, Lord.
“Don’t let me drift toward evil or take part in acts of wickedness. Don’t let me share in the delicacies of those who do wrong.” (4) Seldom do we move from a godly life one day to the depths of sin the next. It is usually a slow drift, a little compromise here and a little concession there. It is right here, at this moment, that David opened his life to the possibility of criticism. God often uses the wise counsel of others to help keep us on track, to keep us from drifting and sharing in the deeds of evil and wickedness. It’s much easier to see the drift in others because we’re not standing in their skin.
However, David knew exactly what he was praying, “Let the godly strike me! It will be a kindness! If they correct me, it is soothing medicine. Don’t let me refuse it.” (5) Only a heart of humility will look at criticism in this way. The key word is godly. “Let the godly strike me!” David asked God over and over again to protect him from the criticism of the ungodly, but when the godly offered correction, he said: “Bring it on!” Solomon expressed this same thought throughout Proverbs, “Correct the wise, and they will love you. Instruct the wise, and they will be even wiser. Teach the righteous, and they will learn even more.” (9:8-9)
No, I don’t like criticism, but when it comes from time to time, I want to listen with the surrendered heart of David, keeping my mouth shut in the face of it. I want to view it as an act of kindness from someone who cares about my well-being and prayerfully considers its message. In prayer, God has always been faithful to reveal the truth of the matter to my heart. Even more than my own desire, God wants me to be wise and righteous. He will send the godly to my life when He sees the drift, and how could I not receive His messengers?
Moving Forward: It humbles me to think that the God of all heaven and earth is so mindful of the condition of my heart that He sends His messengers to bring wisdom and righteousness to my life. “All to Jesus, I surrender…”
Tomorrow @ Song of Solomon 1-2 (Help)