In Psalm 141:5, David called upon God to use a righteous man to rebuke and discipline him. He asked that wise people would help restrain his lips (v 3), heart (v. 4), and actions (v 4). He declared that he would treat these words offered to him in rebuke as the anointing of oil on his head, a courtesy shown a weary guest by a gracious host. He viewed the corrective words of the righteous as a refreshing gift from God.
This was David, the king of Israel. How does one approach the king and tell him that he is wrong? He was also the man who defeated Goliath. How does one approach a national hero? The answer is found in David’s prayer. David realized he needed to be held accountable by someone. He understood the spiritual discipline of accountability. He humbly asked God to provide people in his life who could represent God and His interests.
God used various people in David’s life to do this. Abigail (1 Samuel 25), Nathan (2 Samuel 12), and Joab (2 Samuel 19) all confronted David at different points in his life. If David prayed this prayer in Psalm 141 while fleeing Absalom as some scholars believe, Joab would have been one answer to this prayer since he confronted David after Absalom’s death.
If David needed others to hold him accountable, then how much more do I need people to hold me accountable? What keeps me from asking for people to honestly confront me? Just like David, we begin to develop the discipline of accountability by admitting we need that accountability and by being willing to listen to the people God places in our lives. Accountability depends upon us and our attitudes more than it does them.
What makes asking for people to hold us accountable a difficult prayer? What does that difficulty reveal about us?