[To the choirmaster according to the Sheminith: a psalm of David]
1Save, O LORD, for the godly one is gone; the faithful has disappeared from among the sons of men.
2Each man speaks nothingness to his friend; with smooth lips and a double heart they speak.
3May the LORD cut off all the smooth tongues; the tongue that speaks great boasts,
4Those who say, “With our tongues we make mighty; our lips are with us; who will be lord over us?”
5“Because the poor are plundered, because the needy groan, now I will stand up,” says the LORD, “I will set him in the safety to which he belongs.”
6The words of the LORD are pure words, as silver refined in the furnace on the ground; refined seven times.
7You, O LORD, will keep them; You will guard us from this age to forever.
8Round about, the wicked walk…while vileness is held high among the sons of men.
David creates a lyric speaker in this poem that opens and closes the work with the same image: some unjust situation that reigns supreme among the sons of men (1, 8). When he looks around him, he cannot find the godly one; faithful people have disappeared. In their stead has arisen people who lie in treachery and flattery. The ones who seem to reign on the earth around him are double-talkers and braggarts who are convinced of their own self-mastery. They believe in their autonomy. They cast off any semblance that Someone Else might be lord over them. But God is not one to sit idly by; it is in His nature to act justly in such a situation. He has promised to set the righteous one in the safety (or salvation) to which he belongs. But note how the poem ends: “round about, the wicked walk…while vileness is held high among the sons of men.” The lyric speaker is still living in the “here and now,” while the promise of the Lord is still future. What does he have left to stand on? The “words of the LORD” indicate that his faith is in YHWH, whether or not He acts in the immediate sense: “You, O LORD, will keep them; You will guard us from this age to forever.”
The only righteousness I can lay claim to is that which was imputed to me by the grace of God through His Son Jesus Christ. But when I look around me, I see double-hearted, big-talking people who serve only themselves. Even among those who call themselves by His name—who claim faith in YHWH—I see people who have thrown off His mastery and lordship over them so that they may walk in autonomy. It is deeply distressing to me, especially, when they are highly regarded members of the community of faith. Everywhere I look, the vileness of Adam’s model—service of the self at the expense of others—continues unabated……but this is not the end of the story. God sees, and God will set things right. The words of the Lord are the lamp that lights my way, and as I live in the tension between the injustice of now and the justice of tomorrow, I must find rest in this poetry: “You, O LORD, will keep them; You will guard us from this age to forever.”
If I trust myself to fix these problems, I am no better than those faithless ones. If I trust Him to fix them, I am resting in His promise. What a challenge to which I must rise today.