My weekly discipline is to read the Revised Common Lectionary for the coming Sunday in case there is an emergency and I am called to fill a pulpit on short notice. As I sat this morning and read David's lyrics meditating upon "goodness", I wondered: when in his life did he write Psalm 15? In other words, in what authority of experience, revelation, or observation does he speak to us of blamelessly walking, of doing what is right, of speaking the truth?
Did he sing it as a protest song as he entertained King Saul? Did he write it in his hide-out when he hired himself out as a mercenary to Israel's enemies? Was he thinking out-loud as a newly anointed monarch? Was it before he raped a woman and had her husband slain, or after Nathan showed him that he was a bad shepherd? Was it during the hell he went through as his many children by his many wives struggled for power of their own?
Is he speaking to me like my parents and maybe yours: "Do as I say, and not as I do!"? Or maybe, he came from a place that so many leaders and rulers occupy: "This is the Law, but I am above the Law!'? I think maybe today I choose to read it as: "Let me strip down before you, and expose my naked sins, so that you may clothe yourself better than I."
How do we evaluate ourselves, our spiritual leaders, and our governmental officers - who does David say are good people?: those who do not lie to serve self and harm others; those who do not do or allow evil actions against others; those who do not blame their neighbors for their own problems or that of their nation; those who oppose the wicked ones who serve only themselves and who worship only money and power; those who honor those who are faithful in their actions and not just self-righteous in their words; those who honor their oaths of office no matter the pain or lack of gain; those who do not take advantage of the poor for profit; those who are not corrupt and who are not influenced by those with money. Simply put, those who are good are those do all the good they can and do no harm to others.
In the Psalter of a Hymnal lying open before me, there is a congregational response sung to the reading of this Psalm:
"Justice alone is the way of the Lord; be just and worship God." (Kimbrough and Young; 1989 United Methodist Hymnal)
(photography by tiwago)