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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Just like a good neighbor...


And those who think they know so much, ignoring everything you tell them—let them have it!  Don't let them mock and humiliate me; I've been careful to do just what you said. While bad neighbors maliciously gossip about me, I'm absorbed in pondering your wise counsel.  Yes, your sayings on life are what give me delight; I listen to them as to good neighbors!
(Psalm 119:21-24 The Message)

As we continue on with our study in Psalm 119, we find that David makes a little deviation from his "positive" focus!  He actually asks God to "get" his enemies!  It is kind of like saying, "Sick 'em!" to a dog!  He is obviously a little frustrated with his "supposed" friends - those he has kept company with, and maybe some he just knows as acquaintances.  They are engaged in gossip against him - picking him apart.  

David continues with his customary "condition - result" way of framing his thoughts.  Here's the condition:  There are people all around him that think they know it all - probably being none too willing to give him advice, whether it is well-founded or not.  They are mocking him with the intention of humiliating him.  The result:  He pulls closer to God!  He sinks deep into the counsel God offers and becomes "absorbed" in pondering it.  They become his good neighbors in the face of some "not so good" neighbors!

If we have lived longer than an hour on this earth, we probably have been the subject of some malicious gossip at one time or another!  It is part of how we are as human beings - we just seem to gravitate toward "finding fault", "shifting blame", and "picking apart" the people in our lives.  We don't have to look far to see this.  Just look at the nightly news - we observe newscasters presuming to know the motivation behind the actions of individuals, almost finding them "guilty" before it can be proven otherwise.  

If you have ever been the subject of malicious gossip, you know just how much it brings you down.  No matter how hard you try to remain positive in the face of the "ill will" talk of your "neighbors", you find yourself being beaten down by the words they are spreading.  I think words are more damaging than we give them credit for being!  If you find yourself as a subject of this kind of malicious gossip today, take these offenders to God directly.  Ask him to deal with them in the manner he pleases.  We will never do as good of a job at silencing their "ill will" talk as God will!

David sets out a different situation though - he is surrounded with "neighbors" offering all kinds of advice - supposedly in the interest of pointing him in the right direction.  It is "bad" advice though.  It is not based on what God has revealed as the actions a man or woman of God should be pursuing.  It is kind of like when a well-meaning Christian tells us something that is "not quite right" - close to the truth declared in the Word, but not "exactly" the whole truth contained there.  That is why it is so important for us to get familiar with the Word!  We need to know what it says - able to discern the "whole truth" from "incomplete truth".

The "safety net" that David sets for himself in both of these situations - the "ill-will" talk and the "not so good advice" talk - is to draw nearer to God.  He absorbs himself in God's presence - turning over and over again the Words of counsel given directly from him.  There is no better (or safer) place to be when we are trying to "sort out" the things we hear (and ultimately come to believe).  This is the place where he can be honest with God about what he is feeling - confusion because of misleading advice, hurt because of wrongful words being spoken, etc.  He can lay it all out there - in the safety of God's presence - knowing that God will sort it all out.

We might want to defend ourselves in the face of malicious gossip - don't!  God will do a much better job - in his timing!  I have seen this worked out time and again in my own life.  His ability to "validate" our "good reputation" is much better than any defense we could mount on our own!  In the face of confusing directions - stop!  The best thing to do when we are confused by the messages we are receiving is to stop and listen.  Just like a good neighbor - God stands at the ready to welcome us in, let us spill our heart, and then he embraces us in his compassionate care.