Communal Shepherding — A Work of God

I was struck by this reading a week or so ago in Psalm 141.

“Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips. Do not let my heart be drawn to what is evil so that I take part in wicked deeds along with those who are evildoers; do not let me eat their delicacies.”

Certainly it’s a prayer we all could pray.  In fact, it sounds very much like Jesus’ model prayer: “deliver us from evil” (Matthew 6:13).  With Satan described as a “roaring lion” looking to consume us, and knowing only God has the power to defeat him, it’s a prayer we should pray.

But how will God “keep watch over my lips” and keep us from being drawn to evil?

Perhaps it doesn’t matter . . . as long as He does it.

But David doesn’t leave it at that.  He recognized that God acts not only on His own, but within community – the people of God looking out for God’s own.  It’s their job.  And so David continues his prayer in a way most of us wouldn’t: “Let a righteous man strike me—that is a kindness; let him rebuke me—that is oil on my head. My head will not refuse it . . .”

We’re not wild about communal shepherding . . . are we?  We don’t favor being corrected by others.  And yet, when David was on the receiving end, he considered it blessing – direction from the Lord.  Solomon put it like this: “Whoever disregards discipline comes to poverty and shame, but whoever heeds correction is honored” (Proverbs 13:18).  It’s not the way of the world, but who wants to follow where the world is headed?