How loving are your friends?

The first entry in this miniseries can be found here.
The previous entry in this miniseries can be found here.

I started this mini-series because i was dealing with some serious depression. As such, throughout this series i have at least referenced depression. I mentioned last week that this can be aggravated by hidden sin in your life. A potential cause for hidden sin is lack of friendships where trust and openness are central. If you don’t have friends who actively hold you accountable, depression can easily grow more severe.

David was in this place while running from King Saul. His friends wanted him to strike Saul down. This is why he prayed that God would send a righteous one to lovingly strike him and hold him back from sinning.

In verse 5 we read:

Let the righteous one strike me — it is an act of faithful love; let him rebuke me — it is oil for my head; let me not refuse it. Even now my prayer is against the evil acts of the wicked.

Before touching any of the lines in this verse, it must be reiterated that David prayed in verse 4 that he would not feast on sinful delicacies with men who commit sin. Today’s verse is directly related to that one. It is the other side of the coin. It is not enough to just refuse to associate with sinners. We must also actively associate with righteous people.

This is why David prays that the righteous one would strike him. David wanted to honor God so much that even in this life-threatening situation he would rather be beat by a godly friend than engage in pleasurable stuff with sinners.

It is not only that David wants to be beat by a godly friend; he also desired rebuke. The striking in line one is simply another way of saying, “rebuke me” which is what he says in line two. In both cases, it is a good thing. David ultimately says, “if someone does this for me, it is a blessing.”

Specifically, David calls it an act of faithful love. If you want to know how to love God and love our fellow Christians, here’s a question for you: how willing are you to hear rebuke? And how willing are you to risk offending someone in order to rebuke them and potentially keep them from sin?

David asks God that he not refuse this grace. It is easy enough to pray the right words, but it is difficult to actually desire to carry out your end of the deal for which you are praying. By David saying, “let me not refuse it,” he is asking God to guide his heart so that he does not backtrack on his prayer. He wants to accept rebuke from his friends. He doesn’t want to harden his heart to their love. In truth, this is the truest kind of love someone can show you (or you can show to someone else). David wants to accept the love others show him.

This was David’s prayer. He also specifies at the end of the verse that his prayer is still focused on the same topic as it was in verse 4. He doesn’t want to sin. He prays against the requests from his men to strike Saul down. He prays that knowledge of the rebuke to come would keep him from sin. His prayer is against wickedness and will continue to be in next week’s entry as well (link at end of article).

But here’s the thing. David already flirted with sin in this situation. In 1 Samuel 24:4-5 we read,

so they said to him, “Look, this is the day the Lord told you about: ‘I will hand your enemy over to you so you can do to him whatever you desire.’ ” Then David got up and secretly cut off the corner of Saul’s robe. Afterward, David’s conscience bothered him because he had cut off the corner of Saul’s robe (emphasis added).

You see, there are times where we start to sin–as Christians–and our most faithful, righteous friend comes to our aid. The Holy Spirit works by convicting us of sin.

David flirted with striking down Saul when his friends begged him to do it. The prayer that is now known as Psalm 141 probably resulted from the pricking of his conscience as related in 1 Samuel 24:5. David likely wanted to carry the act out (delicacies in verse 4), and this prayer is him working through the struggle present in his heart.

As believers, we must remember Jesus: He is the exception to Romans 3:10– “there is no one righteous.” Even our most faithful accountability partner is not righteous. Jesus is. He died for our sins and He lives to intercede for us.

Let’s seek Him and ask that He never remove the convicting influence of His Spirit from us. Let’s also pray for more godly, loving friends who are willing to get to know us deeply and call us out when we need it.

In this with you.

Soli Deo Gloria
Solus Christus

The next entry can be found here.

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