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Friday, March 18, 2011

Lifestyles of the Righteous - Part I

 12 My feet stand on level ground;
   in the great congregation I will praise the LORD.
(Psalm 26:12)

In some translations, this passage begins with "I have taken a stand" - indicating that David has made a heart determination to be on the Lord's side.  There are certain lifestyle characteristics of one who has determined to stand with the Lord - unyielding in their commitment or allegiance.  It has been said that if we don't stand for something, we will stand for nothing - pointing us to the important fact that what we "stand for" both determines our course and leaves a legacy for those that follow.

The lifestyle characteristics are outlined in the other verses of this chapter.  Beginning with the first two verses, David's asking God to test him and try him - examining his heart and his mind. The desire to be tested by God is not something for the weak!  David is not looking for the judgment of men here - he is not seeing if he measures up to some standard arbitrarily declared to be the "standard" we are to follow.  He asks God to hold up HIS standard and then to make a comparison between his life and that holy standard.  When we have that mindset and heart determination, we live above the various judgments of men - let them think what they want, God's judgment is all that matters.  

As a matter of second request, David gives God permission to put him "on trial". This is used when someone is seeking to have a formal examination of a matter or someone.  It implies that there will be both a testing of the quality of the commitment, but also a determination of the value of the thing being examined.  The value is something that is assigned after the examination is complete - like when we assign a "value" to a piece of property after it has been appraised.  David is really asking God to affirm his usefulness in God's hands - that God has a specific place and use for him.

David has declared in the opening statements of this chapter that he has "trusted in the Lord without wavering".  He has the characteristic of being faithful.  His faithfulness is made easier because he has made God the center of his focus.  David is pointing us toward the necessity for having both a heart and a mind that is free of vacillation in it choice to serve God - no hesitation in commitment, no second-guessing the journey.

He goes on to show us the importance of living dependent on the Word of God.  It is more than a familiarity with the Word of God that he is declaring here - it is an awareness of the Word of God and an adherence to what it says.  When we have truth exposed, we have two choices - embrace it or reject it.  David says that a man or woman of God has made the choice to embrace it, no matter the cost.  When we are "adhering" to the Word, we are first remaining loyal to the study of the Word.  Then we are learning obedience to it - allowing it to be fused to our heart.

Tomorrow, we will look at the remaining lifestyle characteristics of a man or woman that has taken a stand that are outlined for us in this Psalm.   Our starting point is in making the commitment - that leads to the willingness to be put on trial (examined).  What gives us the ability to "pass the exam" is two-fold:  We have trusted God for our right-standing with him, and we have opened ourselves to the adherence to all he asks us to do.