Righteous Swordsmen

Everything within David wanted to get into a shouting match. Insult me? I’ll insult you more! Slander me? I’ll show you what trash talking is all about! But though that was David’s natural propensity, his prayer in Psalm 141 asks for the supernatural. It reveals how a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22)–and God alone tunes hearts after His own (Ezek. 36:26-27)–responds to the temptation of the flesh to get down in the dirt with the wicked.

Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips! Do not let my heart incline to any evil, to busy myself with wicked deeds in company with men who work iniquity, and let me not eat of their delicacies!

(Psalm 141:3-4 ESV)

And what grabs me this morning is David’s anticipation of what that guard might look like. That while God could use His unseen Spirit to mystically watch over the door of David’s lips, He might also choose to use a flesh-and-blood swordsman.

Let a righteous man strike me–it is a kindness; let him rebuke me–it is oil for my head; let my head not refuse it.

(Psalm 141:5 ESV)

Reminded this morning of the need for righteous swordsmen in our lives.

Faithful friends who can wield the sword of the Spirit, the word of God (Eph.6:17), to protect us from ourselves. Relationships with godly people that are grounded in such transparency that the Spirit can use their sanctified voice to call out our bad behaviors and wavering hearts. Those who know us so intimately, and love us so unconditionally, that they are not afraid to cut us deeply with the truth.

I fear those sorts of relationships are all too rare. In this age where we’re increasingly known by the pictures we post and the tweets we tweet, where self-esteem is built upon the number of “likes” and “follows” and “friends” we have, we find ourselves with no close friends at all. Superficiality rules the day. Transparency is something to be avoided.

In a time where, more and more, every other pursuit chokes out the pursuit of the kingdom of God. So that, when time with God’s people is now measured in how many times we gather with the saints per month rather than per week, the number of godly voices many have in their lives approaches non-existent. The voices of the world flowing in through electronic media drowning out the voice of the Spirit of God through well-known and much-trusted people of God.

But it is a kindness to be struck by a righteous friend. It is like oil for the head to be corrected by a godly confidante. How every saint needs at least one righteous swordsman in their life.

And it takes time, intentional time, to cultivate such relationships. What’s more, it takes honesty, vulnerable honesty, to open up our still-work-in-progress lives for another to see how messy that work is.

But I’m convinced it is a critical component in our sanctification. God wanting to use the voice of others to help us hear His voice. God leveraging the insights of others to help us see what He sees. God employing those who love us enough to call us out to keep us walking in the ways to which God has called us in.

Faithful are the wounds of a friend . . . (Proverbs 27:6a ESV)

Righteous swordsmen . . .

And this too by the grace of God. That we might live for the glory of God.

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