This Week’s Readings
Monday, May 28: 2 Samuel 21-24
Tuesday, May 29: Psalm 26-29, Proverbs 11
Wednesday, May 30: Psalm 30-33, Proverbs 12
Thursday, May 31: Psalm 34-37, Proverbs 13
Friday, June 1: Psalm 38-41, Proverbs 14
The overall year’s plan is here.
This psalm is a great illustration of the difference between our obedience, which the Bible calls uprightness, and the righteousness of God, which is in the state of being in good standing with God, sins forgiven, and empowered to do his will.
David begins Psalm 26 by asking God to vindicate him. This is despite the fact that he has ‘walked in his integrity’ and ‘trusted in the Lord without wavering.’ He still needed to be vindicated. We are to give our best, to be upright and to trust without wavering, but it takes the impossible and amazing grace of God to span the gap between our humanness and his divine nature. God takes us, through grace, from faith and repentance to salvation, making us new creatures in Christ and partakers of the divine nature.
It is Psalm 36:10 that I feel expresses it best …
O continue Your lovingkindness to those who know You, and Your righteousness to the upright in heart. (NASB)
The upright in heart still need God’s righteousness. We are not after simple obedience, even though we must obey. We are after the righteousness of God, which is so much greater, deeper, and less self-regarding than our righteousness.
The things that were gain to me, I counted loss for Christ. Yes indeed, I count everything loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: … and be found in him, not having my own righteousness … but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith. (Php. 3:7-9)
Psalm 26:4-5: Avoiding Evildoers
Some Christians won’t witness or befriend those who are in great need because of their sin. We have to be willing to be a friend to those in need.
We cannot forget, however, that "bad company corrupts good morals." It is one thing to help or befriend someone in sin; it is quite another to condone or partake of their sin. Your "good buddy," with whom you’re on equal terms, cannot be a deceitful man, a pretender, or an evildoer.
This is a great psalm of trust in God. Every time I read it, I ask myself whether I desire God the way David did. Is there really only one thing I desire, and is that all I seek?
Notice also David’s ideas on how to praise and celebrate God. There are shouts of joy involved, sacrifices, and songs.
Some of us are quiet, but we all need to consider that there ought to be times when it is proper and right to shout for joy to honor God, not just to express some emotional feeling within us. Others need to occasionally suppress their shouts of joy for the sake of order because it’s not about expressing our emotion, it’s about honoring God.
Finally, in verse 13, note that David was comforted by the fact that he would see the goodness of God in the land of the living. Our comfort is not just in "the by and by." God promises to give righteousness, peace, and joy right here in our current life.
For the kingdom of God does not consist of food and drink, but righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. (Rom. 14:17)
And Jesus answered, " … There is no one that has left home, brothers, sisters, or father, mother, wife, or children, or lands, for my sake and for the Gospel’s except that he shall receive a hundredfold now in this time … and in the age to come eternal life. (Mark 10:29-30, emphasis added)
This psalm begins by asking God for personal help. The last verse, however, calls for God to save his people and shepherd them.
Christianity is not and has never been an individual way of life. The church is the bride of Christ, and his love for the church is used as an example of how husbands should love their wives (Eph. 5:25). Let us never think that Christianity is about "Jesus, the Bible, and me." Jesus, through the Bible, warns us that we need exhortation and encouragement every day or we are in danger of being deceived and hardened by sin (Heb. 3:13).
He who separates himself seeks his own desire, he quarrels against all sound wisdom. (Prov. 18:1, NASB)
I’ll limit my comments on this psalm to just one line. "Worship the Lord in holy array" (v. 2, NASB).
Have you ever thought like that? It’s not the way I would normally think. Worshiping the Lord is not just a personal thing. We must worship the Lord in "holy array." This would be purposeful worship, done in a group, with thought in advance given to it.
I do have some comments on these proverbs.
Verses 3-8: When my children are angry over some injustice or wrong, and I agree that they were treated unjustly by some wicked person, I remind them that both righteousness and wickedness are their own reward. More specifically, generosity and kindness is its own reward, producing peace, joy, and fellowship with God. Selfishness is also its own reward, possibly producing temporary pleasure, but no real joy, no real peace, no real intimacy with others, and separating them from God. Even before the eternal judgment, the wicked pay for their wickedness, even when it does not appear that they are.
Verse 10: In modern times, there’s a popular idea that we should think highly of everyone, hoping for the best even for the most wicked. The fact is, though, that it is not wrong to rejoice when a horrible dictator or a serial killer dies.
Verse 22: I have to admit I find this a pretty catchy Proverb, and I’ve used it in talks with young ladies several times. Life’s not about physical beauty, and having physical beauty without discretion is like putting a gold ring in a pig’s snout.
Verses 24-25: Give and it will be given to you. Withhold what is due, and you will not have God’s blessing. This is not to say that the wicked never prosper. The wicked often prosper, and we’ve seen psalms complaining about it. James talks about the rich like most of them oppress the poor, yet they are still "the rich." They are not in need, at least financially. Nonetheless, wickedness is its own reward. The wicked do not leave in peace, they do not know true joy, and they live at odds with God, who will eventually judge them.
Verse 30: The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who is wise wins souls. Our lives, if we let Christ live through us, will bring life wherever we go. Conversion, the winning of souls, and obtaining the repentance of backsliders requires not just righteousness, but wisdom. Wisdom is something we are exhorted to seek diligently in Proverbs, and James 1:5 promises that if we ask for it, God will provide it.
Verse 31: The righteous will be rewarded in the earth, and the wicked and sinner will, too. We were made by God to live in love to humans and in obedience to God. That is what fulfills the heart with peace, joy and righteousness. The wicked live without those things, which is why I (and more importantly, the Scriptures) say that wickedness is its own reward. What society has provided more security and more of the luxuries of life than the US? Nevertheless, studies suggest that up to 30% of its citizens would be diagnosed as clinically depressed if they were to seek treatment. 10% of US citizens already are.