Psalm 141 – Man is Not Good (How Arrogance Poisons Everything)

Psalm 141 Bible with Endangered Species 88 Percent Cocoa Dark Chocolate on Snowman Plate
I figured the snowman plate would be apropos given the weather outside.

Today’s ChocolateEndangered Species Dark Chocolate with 88% Cocoa

Today’s PassagePsalm 141

Coyote Justice watch: “Let the wicked fall into their own nets” (v.10)

David’s back with what the NASB calls “An Evening Prayer for Sanctification and Protection.” He asks God to protect him from dangers both inside and out: his malicious adversaries and his own propensity for evil in word and deed. And I don’t know how qualified I am to make this call, but it strikes me as one of the most humble psalms I’ve read yet.

Verse 5 in particular caught my attention. David prays: “Let the righteous smite me in kindness and reprove me; it is oil upon the head; do not let my head refuse it.” How many people do you know who would say, “Let the righteous smite me in kindness?” How many people would invite a smack across the face?

But sometimes that’s what it takes to get us back on track. Learning hurts. Learning that we’re more evil than we thought we were hurts. Learning that we’re not okay and that we need God to intervene in our hearts and minds is a slap to the pride. And our gut instinct is to pursue pleasure and flee pain. We are not good people, and we want to believe we are good people more badly than we want to be good people. David here has taken the first step toward change.

Even so, the last line of the verse is inscrutable to me. It reads, “For still my prayer is against their wicked deeds” (5). The “they” here are the righteous people reproving David, and apparently they have wicked deeds that David prays against. The NASB’s notes provide an alternate translation: “And my prayer is in spite of their calamities.” How should we read this? Is David asking for God to reprove the sins of those who correct him, even as they reprove his own sins? Or is he acknowledging the struggles of his companions, the trouble they’re suffering that he describes over the next two verses: “As when one plows and breaks open the earth, our bones have been scattered at the mouth of Sheol?” (7).

I don’t know. But then, I don’t know a lot. I barely know enough to know that my knowledge of myself is inadequate to correct my flaws. God, I need open-heart surgery; do not incline my heart to any evil thing.


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