Psalm 141:5
Parallel Verses
New American Standard Bible
Let the righteous smite me in kindness and reprove me; It is oil upon the head; Do not let my head refuse it, For still my prayer is against their wicked deeds.

King James Bible
Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness: and let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head: for yet my prayer also shall be in their calamities.

Darby Bible Translation
Let the righteous smite me, it is kindness; and let him reprove me, it is an excellent oil which my head shall not refuse: for yet my prayer also is for them in their calamities.

World English Bible
Let the righteous strike me, it is kindness; let him reprove me, it is like oil on the head; don't let my head refuse it; Yet my prayer is always against evil deeds.

Young's Literal Translation
The righteous doth beat me in kindness. And doth reprove me, Oil of the head my head disalloweth not, For still my prayer is about their vexations.

Psalm 141:5 Parallel
Barnes' Notes on the Bible

Let the righteous smite me - This verse is exceedingly difficult and obscure (compare the margin); and there have been almost as many different opinions in regard to its meaning as there have been commentators on the psalm. A large number of these opinions may be seen in Rosenmuller in loc. DeWette explains it, "I gladly suffer anything that is unpleasant from my friends, that may be for my good; but the wickedness of my enemies I cannot endure." The Septuagint and Latin Vulgate render it, "Let a righteous man correct me with mercy, and he will work convictions in me; but let not the oil of a sinner (for this shall still be my prayer) anoint my head at their pleasure." "Thompson's translation." According to this, the sense would be, "If the righteous smite me with severity of words I shall take it as an act of kindness and benevolence; on the other hand, the bland words of a sinner, smooth as oil, which wound more than sharp arrows, may God avert from me."

Or, in other words, "I had rather be slain by the severe words of the righteous than anointed by the oily and impious words of the wicked." The sense proposed by Hengstenberg (Com. in loc.) is, "Even as I through the cloud of wrath can see the sunshine of divine goodness, I will not give myself over to doubt and despair, according to the course of the world, when the hand of the Almighty rests upon me; but I will, and can, and should, in the midst of trouble, be joyful, and that is the high privilege of which I will never be deprived." According to this, the idea is, that the sufferings endured by good people, even at the hand of the wicked, are chastisements inflicted by a gracious God in justice and mercy, and as such may be likened to a festive ointment, which the head of the sufferer should not refuse, as he will still have occasion for consolation to invoke God in the midst of trials yet to be experienced.

The word "righteous" is evidently employed in the usual sense of the term. It refers to those who love and serve God. The word translated "smite" - חלם châlam - is rendered broken in Judges 5:22; Isaiah 16:8; Isaiah 28:1 ("margin," but rendered by our translators "overcome," sc. with wine); "smote," Judges 5:26; Isaiah 41:7; "beaten," Proverbs 23:35; "beating down," 1 Samuel 14:16; "break down," Psalm 74:6. It does not elsewhere occur, except in the verse before us. It would apply to any beating or smiting, with the fist, with a hammer, with a weapon of war, and then with "words" - words of reproof, or expressions of disapprobation. According to the view above taken (Introduction), it is used here with reference to an apprehended rebuke on the part of good people, for not following their advice.

It shall be a kindness - literally, "A kindness;" that is, an act of kindness. The idea is, that it would be so intended on their part; it should be so received by him. Whatever might be the wisdom of the advice, or the propriety of yielding to it, or whatever they might say if it were not followed, yet he could regard it as on their part only well-intended. If a certain course which they had advised should be rejected, and if by refusing or declining to follow it one should incur their displeasure, yet that ought to be interpreted only as an act well-intended and meant in kindness.

And let him reprove me - As I may anticipate that he will, if his advice is not taken. I must expect to meet this consequence.

It shall be an excellent oil - literally, "Oil of the head." That is - like oil which is poured on the head on festive occasions, or when one is crowned, as a priest, or a prophet, or a king. See the notes at Mark 6:13; notes at Luke 4:18-19. Oil thus used for the head, the face, etc., was an indispensable article for the toilet among Orientals. The idea is here that the reproof of the righteous should be received as readily as that which contributed most to comely adorning and comfort; or that which diffused brightness, cheerfulness, joy.

Which shall not break my head - Or rather, Which my head shall not (or, should not) refuse; which it should welcome. The word rendered break should not have been so translated. The Hebrew word - הניא hāniy', is from נוא nû' - in Hiphil, to negative; to make naught; then to refuse, to decline, to deny. It is rendered "discourage" in Numbers 32:7, Numbers 32:9 (Margin, "break"); "disallow," Numbers 30:5 ("twice"), Numbers 30:8, Numbers 30:11; "make of none effect," Psalm 33:10; "break," in the passage before us. It does not elsewhere occur. The idea is, "If such reproof comes on me for the faithful doing of what I regard as wise and best, I ought no more to reject it than the head would refuse the oil poured on it, to make the person healthful and comely."

For yet my prayer also shall be in their calamities - I will not be sullen, displeased, angry, revengeful. I will not refuse to pray for them when trials come upon them, because they have not approved of my course, because they have reproved me for not following their counsel, because they have used words that were like heavy blows. I will cherish no malice; I will not be angry; I will not seek to be revenged. I will not turn away from them when trouble comes on them. I will love them, cherish with gratitude the memory of the kindness they meant, and pray for them in the time when they especially need prayer. Should they now rebuke me rather than pray for me, yet I will not in turn "rebuke" them in similar trials, but "will pray for them," as though nothing of this had happened. Noble spirit - indicative of what should always be the spirit of a good man. Our friends - even our pious friends - may not be always "wise" in their advice, and they may be severe in their reproofs if we do not follow their counsel; yet let us receive all as well-intended, and let us not in anger, in sullenness, or in revenge, refuse to aid them, and to pray for them in trouble, though they were "not" wise, and though they used words of severity toward us.

Psalm 141:5 Parallel Commentaries

And Lest it Should Seem that Necessary Continence was to be Hoped for From...
2. And lest it should seem that necessary Continence was to be hoped for from the Lord only in respect of the lust of the lower parts of the flesh, it is also sung in the Psalm; "Set, O Lord, a watch to my mouth, and a door of Continence around my lips." [1810] But in this witness of the divine speech, if we understand "mouth" as we ought to understand it, we perceive how great a gift of God Continence there set is. Forsooth it is little to contain the mouth of the body, lest any thing burst forth
St. Augustine—On Continence

How Some of the Heavenly Lovers Died Also of Love.
All the elect then, Theotimus, died in the habit of holy love; but further, some died even in the exercise of it, others for this love, and others by this same love. But what belongs to the sovereign degree of love is, that some die of love; and then it is that love not only wounds the soul, so as to make her languish, but even pierces her through, delivering its blow right in the middle of the heart, and so fatally, that it drives the soul out of the body;--which happens thus. The soul, powerfully
St. Francis de Sales—Treatise on the Love of God

The piety of the Old Testament Church is reflected with more clearness and variety in the Psalter than in any other book of the Old Testament. It constitutes the response of the Church to the divine demands of prophecy, and, in a less degree, of law; or, rather, it expresses those emotions and aspirations of the universal heart which lie deeper than any formal demand. It is the speech of the soul face to face with God. Its words are as simple and unaffected as human words can be, for it is the genius
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament

Cross References
Galatians 6:1
Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.

Psalm 23:5
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows.

Psalm 35:14
I went about as though it were my friend or brother; I bowed down mourning, as one who sorrows for a mother.

Psalm 104:15
And wine which makes man's heart glad, So that he may make his face glisten with oil, And food which sustains man's heart.

Psalm 109:4
In return for my love they act as my accusers; But I am in prayer.

Psalm 133:2
It is like the precious oil upon the head, Coming down upon the beard, Even Aaron's beard, Coming down upon the edge of his robes.

Proverbs 9:8
Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you, Reprove a wise man and he will love you.

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