Psalm 141

O LORD, I call to you; come quickly to me. Hear my voice when I call to you. May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.

Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips. Let not my heart be drawn to what is evil, to take part in wicked deeds with men who are evildoers; let me not eat of their delicacies.

Let a righteous man (The Righteous One) strike me—it is a kindness; let him rebuke me—it is oil on my head. My head will not refuse it.

Yet my prayer is ever against the deeds of evildoers; their rulers will be thrown down from the cliffs, and the wicked will learn that my words were well spoken. They will say, “As one plows and breaks up the earth, so our bones have been scattered at the mouth of the grave.”

But my eyes are fixed on you, O Sovereign LORD; in you I take refuge—do not give me over to death. Keep me from the snares they have laid for me, from the traps set by evildoers. Let the wicked fall into their own nets, while I pass by in safety.

Hebrews 12:5-6 tells us not to make light of the Lord’s discipline and not to lose heart when He rebukes us, because like a good father, He disciplines those He loves. And although the Lord’s discipline may feel uncomfortable at the time, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who’ve been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:11)

So how does the Lord discipline His children? First of all we must understand that no matter what we do, He won’t ever kick us out of the family. Like the prodigal son, we never stop being His children.

But there are things that have happened in our lives that, looking back, we can recognize as discipline. It could have been unexpected opposition to something we thought we had the Lord’s go ahead for, or a sudden rash of financial or personal problems in a life that had been running smoothly. Our hindsight tells us it was discipline because it had the effect the writer of Hebrews described. It brought a harvest of righteousness and peace. God’s discipline is always with the intention of drawing us closer.

Also it’s always tailored to fit our transgressions and is often swift. For example, I don’t have any statistics on this but it seems to me like Christians who do wrong tend to be caught faster and pay bigger penalties than non-believers. This is especially true for high profile believers. I think it’s partly because Christians know right from wrong, and feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit when they do wrong. This often brings on a sub-conscious desire to be caught.

But there’s more to it than that. The number of times I’ve counseled adulterers, liars, and thieves, and listened as they told me how someone who shouldn’t have been in a position to discover them did, is uncanny. An old friend happens to be dining in the same restaurant in a distant city where two people who shouldn’t be together alone are meeting in secret. He shouldn’t be there, and normally wouldn’t be, but there he is, just at the wrong time.

I always told them that we have a God Who loves us so much, He can’t take His eyes off us. He orchestrated their discovery so they would stop misbehaving, and He arranged their discipline so they would repent. Almost always they’ve taken their licks and come out stronger, better people. Frequently they devote a substantial part of their lives to counseling other believers in similar situations in fulfillment of 2 Cor. 1:3-4. Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.

You see, God knows that the root for the word discipline is disciple, and disciple means student. His discipline is meant as instruction and is always tempered with mercy. Its purpose is restoration. In this as in everything else He’s working all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)