Rebuke Strikes Deep

For Monday, May 15, 2006
Proverbs 17:10

A rebuke goes deeper into a man of understanding
than a hundred blows into a fool.

The prophet Nathan stood before the ruler of Israel - king David - relating a story of a poor man's sheep stolen by a rich and powerful oppressor (1 Sam 12). The story kindled righteous indignation in the heart of David, but at Nathan's word, "You are that man," indignation swiftly sank into sorrow and penitence as David's conscience yielded to the prophet's rebuke. Psalm 51 gives us a window into the depth of David's response.

Centuries earlier, another of God's prophets - this time Moses - stood before a wealthy and oppressive ruler - Pharoah of Egypt - and foretold a series of terrible plagues that would strike the Nile people and the ruler himself like heavy blows. But Pharoah did not relent. He felt no remorse. He was not filled with a holy sorrow. Instead, as Exodus tells us, he hardened his heart further still, impervious to the prophet's rebuke.

Two men, two hearts, two responses to God's word of correction.

The scourge of God's rebuke against our foolish pride and bent desires finds no more insistent expression than in the passion of Jesus, in the blows upon his sacred flesh as he stood in the place where our foolishness would otherwise lead.

Though we may never find a prophet on our doorstep, in his stead Christ sends us friends who hold us accountable, spouses who remind us of our promises, pastors who speak God's word to us, children who see through our pretensions. Embracing our crucified Lord by faith, may the Spirit soften our consciences and grant understanding to our hearts so that we may yield to his rebuke when it comes.