Meditation: Telling tales

Commentary on Psalm 15

Psalms 14:1-3; 15; 16:8-11

14 1 The fool says in his heart,
   "There is no God."
They are corrupt, their deeds are vile;
   there is no one who does good.

2 The Lord looks down from heaven
   on all mankind
to see if there are any who understand,
   any who seek God.
3 All have turned away, all have become corrupt;
   there is no one who does good,
   not even one.

15 1 Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent?
   Who may live on your holy mountain?

2 The one whose walk is blameless,
   who does what is righteous,
   who speaks the truth from their heart;
3 whose tongue utters no slander,
   who does no wrong to a neighbor,    and casts no slur on others;
4 who despises a vile person
   but honors those who fear the Lord;
who keeps an oath even when it hurts,
   and does not change their mind;
5 who lends money to the poor without interest;
   who does not accept a bribe against the innocent.

Whoever does these things
   will never be shaken.

16 8 I keep my eyes always on the Lord.
   With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

9 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
   my body also will rest secure,
10 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
   nor will you let your faithful[a] one see decay.
11 You make known to me the path of life;
   you will fill me with joy in your presence,
   with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Week 50 (December)

Which of the lifestyle guidelines of the Church of the Nazarene do you think is "broken" most often?

Tithing?

Active witnessing?

Not profaning the Lord's day?

Avoiding God-dishonoring entertainments?

My guess is that the one most often broken is the admonition against "gossiping, slandering, spreading surmises injurious to the good names of others."

I've never listened to anyone argue for the abolition of this particular guideline or rule, as I have for some of the others. However, I have heard a lot of people breaking it. Probably most of us have been victimized in some way by a loose tongue belonging to a fellow-believer.

A preacher of a century ago who had a lot to say about holiness people and their tongues was "Bud" Robinson. Uncle Bud was a colorful character with a real concern for the practical lived-out side of the sanctified life.

One of his sermon illustrations involved a man who came to Bud to say, "Brother Bud, my religious joy has all leaked out. What is my trouble?"

"My!" replied Bud. "My friend, you keep your mouth open all the time."

This kind of focus on the ethical side of the Spirit-filled life has made some folks uncomfortable, folks who would prefer that preachers -- and church lifestyle rules -- deal only in generalities.

However, Bud Robinson was on solid biblical ground when he was admonishing his listeners to "keep that rat hole in your noggin closed." That was his Texas paraphrase of Psalm 15:3.

This psalm begins with the questions: Who is worthy to be a member of God's family? Who will enter the New Jerusalem?

To be sure, the answer which follows does include a general "moral purity." But there is also the very specific: He who "tells no tales against his neighbor" (v. 3c, NEB).

In his book Sunshine and Smiles, Bud Robinson talks about the gossip problem this way:

I have seen cows with tongues long enough to lick their calves through the crack of the fence.

"Well," you say, "that is a mighty long tongue."

Yes it is, but I have seen longer tongues than that. I have seen people that could sit in their own parlor and lick their neighbors all around the country. They would make you think of a wagon -- they need a breast yoke to hold their tongue up.

Without a doubt, satanic forces make sure we experience some kind of thrill at passing on the latest juicy story. However, Psalm 15 clearly reminds us that the man "whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous" is not a tale teller (v. 2, NIV).

Just for a moment, review your conversations of the past few days with the Holy Spirit. What about the last time you talked about someone to a third person? Was it a tale? Or was it a conversation worthy of a holiness life-style, worthy of one who is walking in the path of life? [ Nine audio sermons on holiness ]

This meditation by Howard Culbertson appeared in Standard, a weekly take-home curriculum piece for adult Sunday school classes published by what is now The Foundry.

The message of Christmas

arrow pointing rightIs the key point about Christmas the baby in the manger? [ more ]

    -- Howard Culbertson


More on Psalm 16     Power of language

Other devotional articles:    Year-long series in Standard    Devotionals built on ham radio illustrations    Come Ye Apart     Devotionals on pastors

Rookie Notebook: Our first nine months as missionaries in Italy     10/40 Window map and explanation     Seeking God's will?    African martyr's commitment    Mission trip fundraising    10 ways to ruin your mission trip   Nazarene Missions International resources