Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the historic one-year lectionary.
It sure is easy to take words or actions out of context, isn’t it? The problem is that when we do that we either misunderstand or help others misunderstand the situation entirely. This week’s Psalm reading, chapter 34:8-22, is often a victim of such interpretive schemes.
Verses 13-14 are the special victims. “Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it” (ESV).
It seems a clear enough command. God is telling us what to do so that we will live in peace, harmony, and God’s will in this world, right? From the way I asked the question you know I am not looking for affirmation.
If we desire life, we watch our tongue and we turn to what is good. But how is this done? In verse 15 we read that “The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry” (ESV). Very simply, the way we turn from evil and to good is by turning to the Lord. The way we guard our tongue and our lips is by speaking truth, but, in this context, that truth is specifically about God.
The Psalmist is telling us to practice good doctrine, with what we say and what we do.
Our speech, our desires, our affections, all are to be directed toward the one true God. We don’t pursue our own opinions. We don’t seek our own values. We don’t try to define good. God has already done that. If we desire life, we seek to be in agreement with God.
How would the Lord have us reach the world? As we are looking to Him we will see all his ways of caring for our society, right before us. As we look to the Lord, we will gradually grow into His values. We can then just live our life in a humble manner and we will find that God is using us.
In the end, we not only desire life for ourselves, but we desire the good of all our neighbors. We protect their life as well as ours. In this way we find we are valuing God’s will and carrying it out in our community.
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