The first casualties of upheaval can be love, kindness, and patience. But crisis is also a moment when love for God & one another can spring up. For 150 days, starting on 17th March 2020, I will write 300 words based on one of the 150 psalms in the bible. How can I find and give love in the midst of coronavirus?
Trout. I would never normally choose the trout. I was taken for lunch by an older couple in my church, and every week the husband has the same meal – trout. So I said, “I’ll have what he’s having.” The trout came, and it was a big one from a local trout farm – and well cooked. But, and it’s a big but – I had to pick the bones out. I hate picking the bones out – but once I did, the fish was excellent.
Psalm 101 requires some careful attention to find the good stuff. There are some bones that need removing:
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.
The ‘I’ in this psalm is David himself. The problem is that he sounds rather impressed with his own goodness – he is planning to live a blameless life. He is also not impressed with the behaviour of some other people.
This seems to be contradictory with the parable that Jesus tells in which he describes two men who go to the temple to pray.
10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ 13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ 14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 18)
So what do we do with this Psalm? David appears to be self-righteous, and later on, is threatening those (with violence?) who are not righteous.
We need to pick out the bones – and look for the good stuff.
David is longing for God and is wanting to choose to be righteous. This is good – and should be our heart. But his conviction that he is blameless is wrong – and is wrong for all of us – and point us to Jesus with the attitude of the tax collector in the parable “God have mercy on me a sinner”.
We should also hate sin – in our lives and in the world. This is right. But our response to others who sin is to acknowledge that we are also sinners, to love them and to gently point them towards the One who can forgive and save them.
So enjoy this psalm, but beware of the bones.