You don’t have to go very far in the Psalms to find ones like this. Here there are claims of purity and blamelessness. Here there is a stand against the wicked. Here there is declaration of integrity and a separation from evil.
This type of Psalm has a habit of making me squirm, on my worse days I wish they were confined to Room 101. I find them uncomfortable. Gone are the declarations that God is with us, a present help in times of trouble. Gone is the urging not to fear or worry. Here there is a standard that when measured against I find myself wanting to duck out of the way. Tell me I’m not the only one.
Looking closer brings different things. As we delve into the Psalm there is more going on. David is the King and his character matters. He is there to live out God’s ways on earth. It turns out that God has standards. The way we live our lives matters. How we walk matters. David walks this earth with integrity.
What does a life of integrity look like according to this Psalm? David shows us. He sets no vile thing before his eyes. He hates faithless deeds. The slanderers are sought out and punished, the proud are not endured, deceit and falsehood are sent away. The wicked are silenced.
Looking at the Big Picture I can see why David is singing praises to God at the beginning, there is a standard. It is deeply good that there is a king who stands up for truth and justice. It is deeply good that the proud are laid low and that evil does not conquer. We can all agree to that.
The knife really sticks in when the lens zooms closer and I realise that I too am called to walk this way. I am called to walk with integrity in this land. There is a good and a bad way to live.
It all seems far too black and white for my liking. Not nearly blurred enough. After all Jesus welcomes all, after all God carries us in his arms, after all isn’t it judgemental to think these thoughts? It is wonderfully true that Jesus welcomes all but he welcomes those who recognise their need of him and hold up arms for help. The wicked in this Psalm aren’t even close to that state, they are proud, haughty and are not to be endured.
This Psalm points to the reality that character matters in our relationships with each other. In our interactions with others in this world. There are such things as right and wrong and we don’t get to define those things. This Psalm’s sting is that too often I have bought into all things being relative, I have loved a lack of absolutes. This Psalm shakes me a little from my complacency and shouts that there is a right way to treat my neighbour. There is a call to walk with integrity and faithfulness through this land.
If I think about it for a while I am glad. If I think about it for a bit longer I am delightfully relieved that God cares about right and wrong, that there are absolutes in this world. I am glad I am not the one to decide these things.
Where do you find this Psalm uncomfortable?
In what ways do we make up the rules in our lives? What’s dangerous about that?
What would the world look like if there was no-one to walk with integrity through the land.