Psalm 141:3-5 “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips. Do not incline my heart to any evil thing, to practice deeds of wickedness with men who do iniquity; and do not let me eat of their delicacies.  Let the righteous smite me in kindness and reprove me; it is oil upon the head;  do not let my heart refuse it.”

Observation: David asked several things of God in these verses. He wanted to stay far from evil practices, to not only do the right thing, but to not even spend time near evil. He also asked the Lord to seal his mouth to prevent him from saying things he ought not to say. He asked God to bring righteous people into his life—people who know God well enough and who love David enough to speak truth into his life, to bring correction when he veers off course. And finally, David asked the Lord to change the bent of his heart, to change his natural desires so he would not even be inclined toward evil. 

Application: In his thoughts, words, and actions, David was asking God for purity. And when the Lord brought a loving reproof into his life, David was declaring in advance that he would consider these words of correction as “oil on his head.” This is a picture of us today as we are being covered by the Holy Spirit, our Helper who will change our heart, guard our mouth, keep us from evil, and bring correction and reproof.

These things David cries for are the needs of my own heart and life. I still have within me too much tendency to want to be my own defense, my own justifier. I don’t think this angers the Lord; rather, it breaks His heart that I am so far from utter reliance upon Him. 

The chilling realization I take from these verses is found in the phrase: “Do not let my head refuse it.” In other words, God can do all I cry out for Him to do, and I could still refuse to receive it. It isn’t foreordained that I would necessarily accept even the most righteous correction or reproof. What an awful thought! The darkness that would result is terrifying to my soul, yet I know the truth is that in the midst of struggling, I still have the capacity to reject His work in my life.

Prayer: Oh Lord, Your words are so completely effective; why do I still tend to speak in my own defense? Please change the emotional chemistry of my heart and mind. Make me wholehearted in pursuing You, so there is no room left to pursue my own defense, my own thoughts of pleasure or justice; cause me to live as though You were the only thing that mattered, because indeed, You are.  Thank You for performing heart surgery on me.