“The Lord is near the broken hearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
This Psalm begins with a statement of praise to the Lord. In verse 4 we see why David will continuously praise God: “I sought the Lord, and He answered me.” This is a primary theme of this Psalm: seeking God, being answered by God, and taking refuge in Him. Verse 6 is especially sweet; a poor, afflicted man cries out and the Lord hears.
God is near the broken hearted. He hears the cries of those who are crushed in Spirit. This Psalm teaches some lessons on how to live life, but it primarily teaches us about the character of God. God is not far off, he is not uninterested in the dealings of man. He is attentive. He listens to the cries of the brokenhearted. Jesus walked the streets of this world and turned His ear to the cries of the lepers, the blind, the ill, the sinners. In heaven, the Father turns His ear to the cries of the afflicted ones. The Lord is a deliverer. He is a redeemer.
Sinful man will depend upon his own resources, build his own refuge, exert his will and not look to heaven. This is vanity. God knows that we are weak and vulnerable–even the strongest of men will not be able to stand against the strength of sin. The proud will not be close to God; only the humble and those who know they are weak will cry out and be answered. To be close to the Lord means that we have to die a death, to admit our weakness, our sin, to put aside pride.
“Taste and see that the Lord is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.” We should take active steps to pursue the goodness of God. Confession, prayer, crying out to the Lord, meditation, silence. The activity of being humble prepares the way for the Lord’s answer. “Seek and you shall find.”
“Come Children, listen to me.”
David says that he will teach us the fear of the Lord. Perhaps better stated as reverential awe, Jesus himself tells us to fear the Lord. Why? Because God has the ability to not only destroy our bodies, but also to cast our souls into hell. Jesus then says we are not to fear the Lord–a challenging teaching: to fear and yet not to fear. Yet it is true. Those who seek Him will find that He is a refuge, not a court of condemnation. God protects the humble from His power to bring swift and inescapable punishment which will come to the proud. We either fear men, or we fear the Lord–we are more concerned about what people think of us, or we consider the Lord’s ways as being primary.
How does David teach us? His instructions are simple. Keep your tongue from evil, don’t deceive, flee from evil, do good, seek and pursue peace. How rarely we do these things.
To control the tongue is one of the hardest commands. American culture especially, with emphasis on freedom of speech and with a very ironic, mocking sense of humor, encourages us to speak whatever we feel. But God instructs us to watch our words, to be very careful in what we say. It is possible to speak something that is true but to speak in an evil way. If my enemy has wronged me, I can tell a brother the truth of the matter, but say it in a way that harms my enemy in my brother’s eyes. The Lord says I am to bless my enemies, to pray for those who curse me. All the more so, I should not speak a truth about my brother in an evil way. I should speak only blessing and be cautious, considerate when speaking. Silence can be golden, especially when I have “every right” to speak a harsh truth. So, let us not speak truth in a way that is evil.
Deceit is different, yet involves controlling the tongue: speaking in a way that would hide the truth is speaking in an evil way. The Lord says that we are to let our Yes be Yes, and our No, No. Anything beyond this comes from the evil one. This is a simple teaching that causes tremendous turbulence when put into practice. The world conspires to have us say half truths, to cover the truth for our own convenience. This comes from the evil one. May the Lord give me the strength to tell the truth. Refusing to deceive is costly, for it means being vulnerable and controlling one’s natural tendency to deceive–and then trusting the Lord with the outcome of our honesty.
Seeking peace: The Word says that the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace; blessed are the peacemakers. Peace is not found, it is made; we do not happen upon peace, we make peace. Peace is made by people with it’s source in the Lord’s love, it does not occur naturally in the course of human endeavors. As much as we are able, we are to live at peace with all men. So, we should not be the source of any discord. We should seek, pursue, and make peace in every situation. Even as Jesus’ words cause division by revealing the kingdom of heaven, his role is to make peace between God and man. Jesus did all he could to bring peace to the world, but some men hate the truth and go to war.
Is there discord in your relationships? Make peace. Is there evil in your life that is revealed in disorder and confusion? Make peace. You will be blessed, for you will be called a son of God.