“I will be careful to lead a blameless life – when will you come to me?” Psalm 101:2
A thought for today:
Parents will sometimes seek to elicit good behaviour from their children on the promise of a treat – perhaps a family picnic, or a day out. It’s great when it works, when attitudes and actions are changed, and the promise is realised. But it’s unlikely to bring about long term change. It’s a bit like taking a deep breath and holding it in – eventually you have to breath out or burst.
What happens if the children aren’t ‘good enough’? A dilemma! Does the treat happen anyway? Or do they continue trying to be good, hoping against hope that the parent will see their good intent?
Read this psalm – read it slowly – read it again if you have time – let it speak to you. Notice what jumps out at you about God’s justice and mercy.
1 I will sing of your love and justice;
to you, Lord, I will sing praise.
2 I will be careful to lead a blameless life—
when will you come to me?
I will conduct the affairs of my house
with a blameless heart.
3 I will not look with approval
on anything that is vile.
I hate what faithless people do;
I will have no part in it.
4 The perverse of heart shall be far from me;
I will have nothing to do with what is evil.
5 Whoever slanders their neighbour in secret,
I will put to silence;
whoever has haughty eyes and a proud heart,
I will not tolerate.
6 My eyes will be on the faithful in the land,
that they may dwell with me;
the one whose walk is blameless
will minister to me.
7 No one who practices deceit
will dwell in my house;
no one who speaks falsely
will stand in my presence.
8 Every morning I will put to silence
all the wicked in the land;
I will cut off every evildoer
from the city of the Lord.
Here’s a couple of thoughts to ponder:
- God’s goodness is absolute. Nothing that is untrue, unjust or unrighteous will survive in his presence – it must all be restored, reconciled and renewed. The psalmist is aware of this, and seeks to lead a blameless life. We could read “when will you come to me?” as ‘have I been good enough yet?” (verse 2).
- It’s great to desire a blameless heart, but Jeremiah has some wise words about our hearts, which come directly from God: “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? I, the Lord, search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.” (Jeremiah 17:9-10).
- We can’t make ourselves good. That would simply be like the child who holds its breath – sooner or later, we will breath out! What we can do is relinquish control of our lives to God, to submit to him as Lord and seek his will and his way. When the most important thing in our lives is our relationship with God, everything else will begin to fall into place. We can avoid collusion with the world (verses 3-5), but we can’t avoid people. Instead we can try to bring the light, love and peace of Jesus into every situation.
- God’s people have always gathered in community, working out their lives before God together (verse 6). As Christians, we place our hope in Jesus, who has taken the just punishment for our sins in order that we can appear before the throne of God righteous in his sight. But let’s not be under any illusion that we are better than others – rather, in humility, let us lead lives of loving service in gratitude and thankfulness to the one who set us free.
- I find myself wanting to contend with David as he cuts himself off from the people around him (verses 7-8). Where is his desire to reach out to them with the grace, mercy and love of God? Surely it is better to seek reconciliation, renewal and transformation under God’s loving care?
- Maybe things look different this side of the cross. We have the privilege of knowing that God loves each one of us so much that he came to earth and died the excruciating death of crucifixion as he took our sins on his shoulders and let out his breath. Maybe, in the face of such a great sacrifice, humility and repentance come more easily to our hearts.
- God didn’t wait for us to be ‘good enough’, but died for us whilst we were still sinners. in order that we could be reconciled, renewed and transformed in his hands. In the knowledge of so great a love, how can we not sing out our praise? How can we fail to sing of God’s love and justice?
If you’d like a little music, here’s a link: