GOVERNMENT 10 – Psalms Meditation on Government

Psalm 101                                Meditation on the just role of a government person                             (by David)

I will sing of loyalty and of justice; to you, O LORD, I will sing.
2 I will study the way that is blameless, when shall I attain it?
I will walk with integrity of heart within my house;
3 I will not set before my eyes anything that is base.
I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall no cling to me.
4 Perverseness of heart shall be far from me;
I will know nothing of evil.
5 One who secretly slanders a neighbor I will destroy.
A haughty look and an arrogant heart I will not tolerate.
6 I will look with favor on the faithful in the land, so that they may live with me;
whoever walks in the way that is blameless shall minister to me.
7 No one who practices deceit shall remain in my house;
no one who utters lies shall continue in my presence.
8 Morning by morning I will destroy all the wicked in the land,
cutting off all evildoers from the city of the LORD.

  • 1 Need to be meditating on God himself, who is justice. The character of God is the foundation of everything, also government. To understand my work I need to know and exhibit the character of God. By praising the right thing, glorifying and desiring the right thing, I will change my thinking & mindset towards God.
  • 2 The right understanding & practice is not automatic, it needs to be studied, pursued, desired. David speaks words of concentration, full attention, giving importance, being serious. First I need integrity in my personal life, house, family, > then I can have it or bring it to the work place. There can be blamelessness in government, nothing about it is inherently evil. Need for self-challenge, putting one-self to it, self-evaluation, humility to realize how far away I still am.
  • 3 Action words of the mind: ‘I will not set’, ‘I will study’. My active role and the importance of choice & commitment to achieve ‘knowledge and practice’. Meditation not of the bad but of the good. Phil 4:8
  • ‘Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.’ Also active rejection of evil, distancing oneself of evil, refusing to associate with evil. Not just as an inner attitude but a communicated commitment > attracting good people and keeping away the evil people. Willingness to be known for what I stand for.
  • 4 rejection of perverseness, no morbid interest, no ‘studying of evil’. “I will know nothing of evil” (Gen 3), no need to ‘experience’ everything. I will not know more about evil by doing it, joining it, flirting with it, rather by resisting and hating it.
  • 5 I will not tolerate, rather actively pursue and destroy those who slander others, those who are dishonest, utter false implication or accusation, manipulators, schemers, ‘politicians’, proud, self-concerned, haughty, arrogant. I will not tolerate those who think little of others’ needs and rights. I refuse to create nor feed nor support nor heed an idle, gossiping, scheming, careless ruling class. I will watch out in myself and in people I promote for pride, haughtiness, self-centeredness. I will not l allow my reign to deteriorate slowly into luxury, power-games, self-advancement and abuse of roles. I will send a clear message of what I want, what I don’t want > all will know … those people agreeing and appreciating this will collect around me.
  • 6 I will favor the faithful, the blameless, the peaceful, the humble, the honest. I want to attract and collect people of integrity around me, choose them to live with and work with. They shall be my co-workers, they shall be promoted.
  • 7 I will not allow nor tolerate dishonesty, lying, scheming or deceiving. I will be committed to truth, to reality, to hearing what needs to be heard, to seeing what needs to be seen. I will not allow yeah-sayers and praise-singers to corrupt me and skew my perception. I will seek out those who are honest and give true report, even when uncomfortable or unflattering to me. I will create an atmosphere where things can be said, without negative repercussions.
  • 8 Government’s function is to destroy the wicked, to judge injustice, to maintain lawfulness, so normal people can live in peace. Daily stay on top of evil, continual effort and commitment, not ‘drives’ (Bangladesh). In this way I will make a statement to all, with endurance & follow-through, not special or public cases, not ‘exemplary punishment’ but every case, always. Today we don’t like the strong language: destroy! cut off! … but injustice is wrong and destructive and needs to be stopped.
  • For every profession: ask for revelation of God or his heart for this profession, for my work. What is a Biblical view of my profession?
Psalm 15                                             Meditation on the just role of a normal person                                   (by David)
  • 1 This is a wisdom psalm, a meditation on God’s character, and also a teaching tool to instruct godly perspective. The structure is question (1), answer (2-5a) and summary (5b). David declares God’s presence and right to access to God’s presence to be conditional on personal integrity in daily life in all ares. No separation of religion & practice. Religiosity (going to the temple, sacrificing, participating in the feasts) is only acceptable when accompanied by integrity in everyday affairs. God’s holiness cannot co-exist with injustice. ‘Religion plus injustice’ is an abomination (Amos 5:21-24, etc.). It’s a contradiction in terms. Righteousness = rightness = justice. Righteousness is not a ‘religious’ term only.
  • 2-5 walk blamelessly, do what is right, speak truth, do not slander, do not do evil to friends, do not take up reproach against neighbor,

1 O LORD, who may abide in your tent?
Who may dwell on your holy hill?
2 Those who walk blamelessly, and do what is right,
and speak the truth from their heart;
3 Who do not slander with their tongue and do no evil to their friends,
nor take up a reproach against their neighbors;
4 in whose eyes the wicked are despised but who honor those who fear the LORD;
who stand by their oath even to their hurt;
5 who do not lend money at interest, and do not take a bribe against the innocent.
Those who do these things shall never be moved.

  • despise wicked, honor the good, fulfill oath, don’t take interest, do not bribe against innocent … this is not an exclusive tick off list, it’s a short hand for the law in general, all that is right and just. Yet the elements and sequence is important.
  • 2 Blamelessness is not passivity (‘I’m doing nothing wrong!’), it’s pro-active, involved, fulfilling a role, serving: ‘do what is right’. Speaking truth seems to imply more than just ‘not lying’, it also means to speak needed truth, to stand up for what is right, to not let falsehood stand, to be a voice for others. To speak truth from the heart seems to imply an openness, unfilteredness, an inward integrity and attitude that comes out in speech.
  • 3 three types of unjust behavior, revealed in speech (mostly): slander (conscious, intentional lying about others to hurt somebody), doing evil to friends (gossip, false report, not defending, scheming, betraying, deceiving), picking up reproach against neighbor (not quickly believing evil, not quickly taking sides, fairness, hearing the other side also, giving the benefit of the doubt),
  • 4 those in whose eyes the wicked are despised … an inward, wholehearted, dislike of those who love evil, no secret envying, no hidden “I wish I could do or have that’, a total rejection of evil and all that is associated with it, a seeing of sin as God sees it, with all its ugliness and destructiveness. Those who honor those who fear the LORD: truly respecting, publicly supporting, learning from godly people, no smugly pitying, no benevolent or smart paying of tribute.
  • 5a no taking of interest (of poor? Of all? Distinction between business and other loans?), no making money of the need of others. Now less ‘speech’ based, more unrighteous gain, unjust behavior, law-breaking. Taking bribes (unjust gain) against the innocent (perversion of justice in court, abuse of a role, position, authority, power for personal gain)
  • 5b those who do these things shall never be moved. God’s promise of stability, protection, safety, vindication, honor for those who do this. Eternal components implied, but also now: they will remain, they will not be prevailed over, they will be proven.
  • 2-5 the activities condemned are not so much ‘government official’ types, but just behavior of normal people, though it reaches all the way to justice (GOV) issues. Bribe against the innocent could be a government person, but not necessarily, like a witness that shuts up on payment, a person that gives misleading information or wrong advice.
Psalm 82                                            God calling governments to account                                                     (by Asaph)

1 God has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods he holds judgment:
2 “How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked? Selah
3 Give justice to the weak and the orphan; maintain the right of the lowly and the destitute.
4 Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”
5 They have neither knowledge nor understanding, they walk around in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken.
6 I say, “You are gods, children of the Most High, all of you;
7 nevertheless, you shall die like mortals, and fall like any prince.”
8 Rise up, O God, judge the earth; for all the nations belong to you!.”

  • 1 God will hold governments accountable. By context, reading the psalm carefully, ‘gods’ here means humans, especially those with government function. No authority without limits, no power given without accountability.
  • 2-4 The standard God holds them to (all nations Ps 82:8) is basic justice, the golden rule, general revelation: to not abuse the powerless, to uphold the rights of the vulnerable (description here: 3 weak, orphan, lowly, destitute, 4 weak, needy). The main function of government is maintaining justice & lawfulness. The main accusation here is: unjust judgment & partiality, that is a perversion of the very role of government.
  • 5 God’s verdict is: They have no knowledge, understanding, they walk in darkness. This is not an excusing explanation (the ignorance is a willful ignorance), but a verdict, and simply true. The consequences of this is: darkness & foundations shaking for all.
  • 6-7 God’s sentence: death penalty. Even if you seem powerful, you will be judged and won’t be able to escape. The fact that a powerful person thinks he can escape already shows a wrong attitude: above the law, abusing power.
  • 8 The godly welcoming God in his function as Judge, acknowledging his legitimate authority over all nations to call all to account.
Psalm 94                                                 trusting God to put things to right                                                         (author unknown)
  • What to do when evil seems to be take overhand, injustice seems to prevail and evil men are arrogant, self-assured and active?
  • > Remember the God who sees, the God who knows, the God who detests injustice, the God who will judge, the God who will bring about justice – yet again and ultimately, the God who will not abandon the righteous.
  • Blessed – against all appearances – are those whom God disciplines, who accept God’s discipline, whom God teaches out of his law, whom God gives respite, assurance, consolation, protection and vindication.
  • “Who rises up for me against the wicked?” … This seems to be God speaking, affirming that good men, especially good government need to do exactly that.
  • Calling forth justice on the wicked requires a commitment to justice also: 12 Happy are those whom you discipline… whom you teach out of your law … 15 for justice will return to the righteous, and all the upright in heart will follow it. This is not God being pro one side and contra the other, He is for justice and against injustice, whoever might commit it.

1 O LORD, you God of vengeance, you God of vengeance, shine forth!
2 Rise up, O judge of the earth; give to the proud what they deserve.
3 O LORD, how long shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked exalt?
4 They pour out their arrogant words, all the evildoers boast.
5 They crush your people, O LORD, and afflict your heritage.
6 They kill the widow and the stranger, they murder the orphan,
7 and they say, “The LORD does not see, the God of Jacob does not perceive.”
8 Understand O dullest of the people; fools, when will you be wise?
9 He who planted the ear, does he not hear? He who formed the eye, does he not see?
10 He who disciplines the nations, he who teaches knowledge to humankind, does he not chastise?
11 The LORD knows our thoughts, that they are but an empty breath.
12 Happy are those whom you discipline, O LORD, and whom you teach out of your law,
13 giving them respite from days of trouble, until a pit is dug for the wicked.
14 For the LORD will not forsake his people: he will not abandon his heritage;
15 for justice will return to the righteous, and all the upright in heart will follow it.
16 Who rises up for me against the wicked? Who stands up for me against evildoers?
17 If the LORD had not been my help, my soul would soon have lived in the land of silence,
18 When I thought, ‘my foot is slipping,’ your steadfast love, O LORD, held me up.
19 When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.
20 Can wicked rulers be allied with you, those who contrive mischief by statute?
21 They band together against the life of the righteous, and condemn the innocent to death.
22 But the LORD has become my stronghold, and my God the rock of my refuge.
23 he will repay them for their iniquity and wipe them out for their wickedness; the LORD our God will wipe them out.

Psalm 21                                                    A king’s acknowledgment of and trust in God                                           (by David)

1 In your strength the king rejoices, O LORD, and in your help how greatly he exults!
2 You have given him his heart’s desire and have not withheld the request of his lips.
3 For you meet him with rich blessings; you set a crown of fine gold on his head.
4 He asked you for life; you gave it to him – length of days forever and ever.
5 His glory is great through your help; splendor and majesty you bestow on him.
6 You bestow on him blessings forever; you make him glad with the joy of your presence.
7 For the king trusts in the LORD, and through the steadfast love of the Most High he shall not be moved.
8 You hand will find out all your enemies; your right hand will find out those who hate you 9 You will make them lie a fiery furnace when you appear. The LORD will swallow them up in his wrath, and fire will consume them. 10 You will destroy their offspring from the earth, and their children from among humankind. 11 If they plan evil against you, if they devise mischief, they will not succeed. 12 For you will put them to flight; you will aim at their faces with your bows.
13 Be exalted, O LORD, in your strength! We will sing and praise your power.

  • David fully, wholeheartedly, exuberantly acknowledges God as the Giver of everything he has and is: 1 strength, help, 2 fulfilled desires and prayers, 3 rich blessings, honor and kingship, 4 life, stability and future, 5 glory, splendor, majesty, 6 blessings, joy, 7 security, 8-12 protection from and victory over enemies.
  • David is not claiming any merit, stating any credentials, pointing out his role in it. There is also no reticence, no mincing of words, no sense of ‘obligation’, no second thoughts at all: it’s wholehearted, willing, happy, abandoned praise. No pride, no shame, no filter … just straight right out, heart poured out.
  • How different form our dignified displays of authority, quiet and reticent words, carefully filtered statements, self-conscious presentations. David has no pride to save, no shame to hide, no kingdom to defend, no authority to prove. His assurance in who he is and isn’t, his security in his calling, his understanding of authority bestowed, his trust in God to maintain it shows in every line. This is how true god-given authority will look.
Psalm 20                                                  May the LORD bless his King with victory                                                       (by David)
  • The psalm is by David, but it is like a prayer for the king to God. Maybe David is giving people godly prayers to pray, instructions how to bless the government and indirect teaching what to pray for him as king.
  • Like Ps 21 it is abandonedly God-focused, here not as thanks but as prayer: ‘God, you are the source for everything good, grant what is good to the King and us!’
  • It is a deliberate declaration of dependency on and trust in God, specifically for military victory. It is equally deliberate in its opposition to ‘normal wisdom’: no trust or pride in chariots and horses (military might, hifi military equipment).
  • The attitude displayed is exactly what Isaiah wants Judah and its kings to have: total trust in God, as expression of that careful preparation, no trust in schemes and political alliances (Is 30, 7:9, etc.)
  • David is not trying to assure his own soldiers with displays of smart military might, no false boosting of confidence. This is not the hope that carries.
  • It is probably that this used as a military psalm? A prayer before Israel’s armies marched out?

1 The LORD answer you in the day of trouble! The name of the God of Jacob protect you!
2 May he send you help from the sanctuary, and give you support from Zion.
3 May he remember all your offerings, and regard with favor your burnt sacrifices.
4 May he grant you your heart’s desire, and fulfill all your plans.
5 May we shout for joy over your victory, and in the name of our God set up our banners. May the LORD fulfill all your petitions.
6 Now I know that the LORD will help his anointed; he will answer him from his holy heaven with mighty victories by his right hand.
7 Some take pride in chariots, and some in horses, but our pride is in the name of the LORD our God
8 The will collapse and fall, but we shall rise and stand upright.
9 Give victory to the king, O LORD; answer us when we call.

Psalm 33                                             No false hope in government or military                                          (author unknown)

12 Happy is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage.
13 The LORD looks down from heaven he sees all humankind.
14 From where he sits enthroned he watches all the inhabitants of the earth –
15 he who fashions the hearts of them all, and observes all their deeds.
16 A king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.
17 The war horse is a vain hope for victory, and by its great might it cannot save.
18 Truly the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, 19 to deliver their soul from death and to keep them alive in famine. 20 Our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and shield.
21 Our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. 22 Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you.

  • 12-15 God’s focus on normal people / all people and their heart attitudes … Israel is blessed as a nation, as individuals also. Their choices, their obedience & deeds matter.
  • 16 By context this seems to be the people looking to a king, warriors, powerful armies, military equipment for safety, and the psalmist encouraging them (and of course the king) to not do so, to not put their trust in the wrong things. Rather to trust God, to obey his will and fulfill their calling. Message like Isaiah: Not political alliances & false security but repentance & obedience.
Psalm 75                                                    God will judge unrighteousness                                                         (by Asaph)
  • Praise psalm for God, who does wonderful deeds, who judges the earth with equity, who keeps it stable, who lifts up and puts down governments.
  • Assurance that ultimately justice will prevail. At the set time … which may well seem to us later than what we hoped for, but it will come
  • As throughout the Bible also in this Psalm God’s total sovereignty over history, human powers, governments, empires is affirmed
  • > this is a reason for praise thankfulness, steadiness now, obedience and lawfulness in spite of evil happening around us, assurance of a justice to come (Revelation).

1 We give thanks to you, O God; we give thanks; your name is near. People tell of your wondrous deeds.
2 At the set time that I appoint I will judge with equity.
3 When the earth totters, with all its inhabitants, it is I who keep its pillars steady.
4 I say to the boastful, “Do not boast,” and to the wicked, “Do not lift up your horn; do not lift up your horn on high, or speak with insolent neck.”
6 For not from the east or from the west and not form the wilderness comes lifting up;
7 But it is God who executes judgment, putting down one and lifting up another.
8 For in the hand of the LORD there is a cup with foaming wine, well mixed; he will pour a draught from it, and all the wicked of the earth shall drain it down to the dregs.
9 But I will rejoice forever; I will sing praises to the God of Jacob.
10 All the horns of the wicked I will cut off, but the horns of the righteous shall be exalted.

Psalm 125                                                 God will protect the land of the just                                                 (author unknown)

1 Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever
2 As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people, from this time on and forevermore.
3 For the scepter of wickedness shall not rest on the land allotted to the righteous, so that the righteous might not stretch out their hands to do wrong.
4 Do good, O LORD, to those who are good, and to those who are upright in their hearts.
5 But those who turn aside to their own crooked ways the LORD will lead away with evildoers. Peace be upon Israel!

  • 1-3 Parallel sentences: in the long run godliness will prevail, godlessness cannot prevail. God abides … so those who trust God, Zion, mountains, the righteous > will abide. God abides … wickedness, unrighteous gain, occupying or stealing land will not abide. God is the guarantee, the one on whom all things hinge.
  • 3 God will safeguard the land allotted to the righteous so that they won’t be tempted to do wrong … daily reality in Bangladesh: stolen or occupied land > great temptation to anger, bitterness, retaliation, unrighteous act on my part.
  • 4 Simple request to God to bless, do good, to act on behalf of those who are good, because if not, there will indeed much suffering and multiple temptations to evil. ‘Do not lead us into temptation but deliver us from evil’ (Mt 6:13, Lu 11:4) …
  • 5 An assurance, that in the end God’s justice will prevail … even if not at every moment and not totally on this side of eternity. Call for the blessing of peace, which is exactly that: evil being stopped and the good being able to live without the constant challenges of injustice committed against them and the temptations that follow. ‘so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity.’ (1 Ti 2:2).