[forthright] Get Out of My Life!

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From: "Forthright Magazine" <forthrightmag@...>
Date: Mon, 30 Nov 2009 17:25:52 -0200
Forthright Magazine
http://www.forthright.net
Straight to the Cross

Don Petty lists 50 things to expect in heaven. Makes
me want to go there!
http://fellowshiproom.wordpress.com/


COLUMN: FINAL PHASE

Get Out of My Life!
  by J. Randal Matheny, editor

Psalm 119 is famous as the song that praises the word
of God. Even its internal structure emphasizes the
language of God, forming an acrostic of the Hebrew
alphabet with each set of eight verses.

What is not so often appreciated is the role of evil
people in the psalm.

The psalm highlights the presence of enemies as the
writer pledges his faithfulness to God. With the
resolve to obey every commandment of the Lord and let
his statues live in the heart, there will be resistance
from others.

Evil people are identified as those "who wander from
[God's] commandments" (vv. 21 ESV). The difference
between good and evil is the respect, or lack of it,
that one shows toward God's word.

It is God who rebukes the disobedient and who takes
away the scorn and contempt they heap upon the
righteous (vv. 21-23).

Persecution will not stop the psalmist from keeping the
testimonies of the Lord; he will not forsake God's
precepts (vv. 86-87).

In fact, it is by them that he attains life and is
preserved whole (vv. 92-95).

As much as the psalmist depends on the Lord to protect
him, he also realizes that he must keep his distance
from evil people, to avoid their influence and to
enable him to obey God's commandments. So he tells them
in verse 115:

"Depart from me, you evildoers, that I may keep the
commandments of my God" (ESV).

The connection between the two ideas is even stronger
in the New Living Translation:

"Get out of my life, you evil–minded people, for I
intend to obey the commands of my God."

Psalm 119 develops this interplay between love for and
obedience to the word of God and the opposition that
"evil-minded people" put up against any effort to
respect his laws. This joining of themes reminds us
today that we cannot obey God and be friends with the
world.

Departure from the faith comes through the influence of
lying teachers (1 Timothy 4:1-2). In Psalm 37:35, David
told what he had seen, "ruthless evil men growing in
influence, like a green tree grows in its native soil"
(NET).

Solomon's many wives "had a powerful influence over
him" (1 Kings 11:3), and he the wisest man of all! Ahab
had only one, and that one was bad enough, for he was
"urged on by his wife Jezebel" (1 Kings 21:25) to do
evil.

The writer of Psalm 119 knew better than to think he
could keep evil friends and do good. But many people
today think they can do better than the psalmist.

Knowing this tendency to self-deceive and to over-
estimate our power to resist evil, Paul wrote, "Do not
be deceived: 'Bad company corrupts good morals'" (1
Corinthians 15:33).

But we hang out with the wrong crowd and pretend we can
do the will of God. We entrust our children to pagan
teachers and worldly friends for hours on end in the
school systems and think we can still snatch them from
the fire. Paul says, "Don't be deceived!"

Let us wave away the evildoers, then, and chase them
from involvement in our lives. We cannot otherwise keep
God's commandments.

For those who do are blessed (Psalm 1:1).

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