In today’s psalm we find David facing two improtant challenges:
the first is that he acknowledges that he is sinful v4 and the second is that because he acts with integrity he has assurance that he is accepted by God v12. These two ways of thinking are important for us too.
We think rightly about ourselves when we a) acknowledge before God our sinfulness – ‘ ‘there is no one is righteous, not even one’ Romans 3:10
‘all have sinned and come short of the glory of God’ Romans 3:23
b) at the same time in everyday behaviour we really aim to act with integrity in everything we do. (Matthew chapters 5,6 & 7)
Part of acting with integrity involves caring for the ‘weak‘ ( or poor, in some translations) v 1-2. It seems that God preserves, protects and walks with David as he does this. I cannot help but think of activities like Manna House and the Manna van from our own congregation in this regard. And also thinking of our Christian friends in Damascus, Syria, who, right now, are caring for hundreds of internally displaced refugees – no matter what faith they are following, or with no faith yet, because those people are in great physical and emotional deprivation. It is largely the poor, aged and ill who are unable to leave the country. Who cares for them? How much they are encouraged to know that those of us living far away in peace and security pray for them.
David’s response to the appauling way his enemies treated him is in sharp contrast to what Jesus now requires from us. We can understand David’s devastation when his enemies tell lies about him, and gossip together but when even a close and trusted friend joins them he wants revenge! It is not hard to get the feeling! Our integrity comes from following Jesus –
‘but I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.’ Matthew 5:44
‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him, if he is thirsty give them something to drink.’ Romans12:220
SO, today we need to hold two ways to think about ourselves:
But accepted through Jesus when we act with integrity. That is God’s great grace .
In his commentary on the Psalms, Professor John Goldingay points out that this is the last Psalm of book One of the Jewish Psalter (Psalm 1-41) and that v 13 , rather than being the last verse of this Psalm is rather an act of praise for the whole book – a coda if you like –
‘praise be to the Lord, Yes and Yes!’
Peter and Elizabeth.