Wounds or Kisses
Psalm 141:5 Let the righteous strike me; It shall be a kindness. And let him rebuke me; It shall be as excellent oil; Let my head not refuse it.
David wrote this psalm and from his point of view, being rebuked by a righteous person was a kindness. It is hard to say how many people knew of his wrongdoing concerning Bathsheba and Uriah but things seldom stay secret in a palace. He had kept it a secret (he thought) from everyone for over a year. It was finally Nathan, David’s friend (who also happened to be a prophet) that came and risked the king’s wrath to tell to telll the king that he had sinned. It wasn’t long ago that Saul had been throwing spears at people who told him he was wrong.
His son, Solomon, may have been thinking of his fathers words when he wrote, An open rebuke is better than love carefully concealed. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. (Proverbs 27:5-6 NKJV)
Who in their right mind would prefer wounds to kisses? Anyone who considers the source of the action. A friend who has your best interests at heart may have to rebuke you or confront you on a matter at times, but you know it is for your own good. An enemy, by contrast, may whisper sweet words and happily send you on your way to ruin. Sometimes it is just pleasant conversation and we think all is well but there are unhappy whispers in the background. We tend to hear what we want to hear, even if an enemy is the only one who will say it. A friend’s advice, rebuke or confrontation no matter how painful, is much better.
Nobody really likes criticism, but everybody can benefit from it when it is given wisely and taken humbly. David suggested how to accept criticism:
- Don’t refuse it. Notice though that there is a criterion. (Let the righteous strike me.) David is not advocating that we accept every criticism that comes our way. There are many who seem to think it is their ministry to find fault in everyone and everything around them. They have critical spirits and are not seeking to heal or to help but just to point out what they consider to be wrong.
- Consider it a kindness. When someone comes to you that you know walks in love and godliness you can generally trust that they are trying to help. Even if it is not handled in the gentlest way we can always trust that God wants to do some changes.
- Keep quiet (don’t fight back). Oooh, that’s a hard one isn’t it? Learn to listen and then take the criticism to God and ask Him to show the truth (no matter how large or small) of the matter.
Putting these suggestions into practice will help you control how you react to criticism, making it productive rather than destructive, no matter how it was originally intended.