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Come Quickly to Me

Daily Devotional • July 5

A Reading from Psalm 141

1 ​​I call upon you, O Lord; come quickly to me;
   give ear to my voice when I call to you.

2 Let my prayer be counted as incense before you
    and the lifting up of my hands as an evening sacrifice.

3 Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord;
    keep watch over the door of my lips.

4 Do not turn my heart to any evil,
    to busy myself with wicked deeds
in company with those who work iniquity;
    do not let me eat of their delicacies.

5 Let the righteous strike me;
    let the faithful correct me.
Never let the oil of the wicked anoint my head,
    for my prayer is continually against their wicked deeds.

6 When they are given over to those who shall condemn them,
    then they shall learn that my words were pleasant.

7 Like a rock that one breaks apart and shatters on the land,
    so shall their bones be strewn at the mouth of Sheol.

8 But my eyes are turned toward you, O God, my Lord;
    in you I seek refuge; do not leave me defenseless.

9 Keep me from the trap that they have laid for me
    and from the snares of evildoers.

10 Let the wicked fall into their own nets,
    while I alone escape.



“Let the righteous strike me;
    let the faithful correct me.
Never let the oil of the wicked anoint my head,
    for my prayer is continually against their wicked deeds.”

What sort of life is lived which is open to the friendly rebuke of the righteous and closed to the oil of the unrighteous? I can barely imagine it for myself. I cling to any praise I can get without interrogating its source; I flee from any critique, no matter how true. This orientation shapes which media I consume, which friends I make, and which institutions I move within. I imagine that you are not immune from such tendencies either. Such is the world we live in and the fallen condition we inhabit.

There is even more difficulty in another matter: it is often hard to distinguish the righteous from the unrighteous! This is true both when we evaluate the rebukes and anointings we receive, but also when we attempt to determine whether the rebukes and anointings others receive are from the righteous or the unrighteous. Take our Lord, for a principal example. The rebukes that Jesus received in his earthly life would have seemed to many to have been from the righteous — what has a greater appearance of righteousness than the judgment and punishment of an imperial court in all its pomp and splendor? The anointings that Jesus received would have seemed to have been from the unrighteous. What has a greater appearance of unrighteousness than the scandalously expensive perfume of a notorious sinner?

Jesus’ orientation to the world is not one that we can simply and easily appropriate to ourselves, but there is something from these examples that is instructive for us. In our lives, individual and corporate, lived open to rebuke from the righteous and closed to the oil of the unrighteous, we can never prejudge the source of praise by our own standards of the appearance of righteousness. Perhaps the form of life suggested to us by this psalm and the example of our Lord is that we will even hold our preexisting notions of righteousness and unrighteousness lightly, perpetually open to the correction of our God whose judgment exceeds and transforms all our superficialities.

Maxine King is a lay Episcopalian and student of theology at Virginia Theological Seminary.

Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer
Today we pray for:

The Diocese of Grafton – The Anglican Church of Australia
St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, Waco, Texas


Scripture and prayer. Every weekday.