PRAY to GOD seeking His CORRECTION every day! "O Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps. O Lord, correct me, but with justice; not in Your anger, lest You bring me to nothing" (Jer. 10:23-24)
Jeremiah chapter ten concludes with a sincere prayer of the prophet Jeremiah. This prayer may be interpreted as Jeremiah’s prayer for himself or, for the people of Israel. If this is the prophet’s prayer for himself this can be understood as his final submission to God’s direction in his life. On the other hand, this may also be a prayer that Jeremiah makes on behalf of the people of Israel who may repent of their sins in the future.
In this prayer, Jeremiah admits that a person’s life cannot be considered his own as though that individual is free to “direct his own steps” (v. 23). God is really in control, and only those who let God direct their ways will be truly blessed as per His promise: “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye. Do not be like the horse or like the mule, which have no understanding” (Ps. 32:8-9).
Jeremiah admits that punishment is appropriate for the man who attempts to go his own way (Prov. 14:12; 20:24). However, he does ask God to administer the punishment according to what is just, and not to inflict chastisement in anger (v. 24). In his prayer, Jeremiah yields to God’s judgment, but prays for divine justice that is clear from his words: “O Lord, correct me, but with justice; not in Your anger, lest You bring me to nothing". This is similar to Habakkuk’s prayer to God: "O Lord, revive Your work in the midst of the years! In the midst of the years make it known; in wrath remember mercy" (Hab. 3:2).
Thus, Jeremiah pleads with God to deal with the nation of Israel according to His justice, but to withhold His anger. God eventually answers his prayers with the following words: "Do not fear, O Jacob My servant” says the Lord, "for I am with you; for I will make a complete end of all the nations to which I have driven you, but I will not make a complete end of you. I will rightly correct you, for I will not leave you wholly unpunished." (Jer. 46:28)
The goal of Jeremiah was to conform to the word and will of God as he closely follows the thoughts that are found in the wisdom literature: "A man's steps are of the Lord; how then can a man understand his own way?" (Prov. 20:24) "A man's heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps" (Prov. 16:9). The psalmist has expressed this thought in the following prayer to God: "You will guide me with Your counsel, and afterward receive me to glory" (Ps. 73:24)
Like children, we need correction from God even though it is painful, and we need to pray to God seeking His correction every day. When the famous English Methodist preacher Charles Wesley asked his mother Susanna, who bore and raised nineteen children, to share her beliefs about correction in child rearing, this was her response found in The Journal of John Wesley:
“In order to form the minds of children, the first thing to be done is to conquer their will and bring them to an obedient temper. To inform the understanding is a work of time and must with children proceed by slow degrees as they are able to bear it; but the subjecting of the will is a thing which must be done at once; and the sooner the better.” (Wesley 1951, 63)
We should understand that the goals for correcting the young are also true for adults. The issues of self-will, human interdependence, and obedience to God need to be addressed by everyone, regardless of age. God, therefore, involves Himself in the ongoing process of correcting His people. Let us pray to God Almighty that He may correct us with mercy and measure without destroying us completely.