Once again we find a psalm that is to be set to the eighth octave which gives it a sense of deep foreboding and seriousness. The primary object of this psalm is a word that we all have heard before: gossip. Now, there is nothing more offsetting than a sermon or statements made that are moralism gone amuck. Anyone can say that gossip is bad and it would really have no impact. Let’s analyze exactly what we mean when we talk about gossip. Let’s use this psalm as an example. It begins with vs.2 where we hear that they utter lies to each other and they flatter themselves.
We have been taught that gossip is when we say unkind things about other people. Here it seems that the psalmist is speaking out against those who promote themselves or others just for the sake of flattery. What does flattery produce? It is an opportunity to get ahead and to curry favor from others. The author speaks out so strongly against us trying to be someone that we are not simply for the purpose of others thinking that we are someone that we are not. I have to say that this last sentence has been a primary complaint from non-church goers for generations. I have heard often the complaint that the reason why I don’t go to church is because it is a bunch of hypocrites. We are well known for saying one thing and then doing another. We are well known for praising people to their faces and then saying something completely different to others in our company.
But what I really want us to think about, about which this psalms almost demands that we think, is what does it mean to say that all flattering lips should be cut off? The psalmist uses it to describe an evil generation with the wicked prowling and vileness exalted. What direct correlation can you make of those who flatter with their lips and, as vs.3 states, tongues that make great boasts? We need to be careful not only of the company that we keep, but especially what we say and what we think when we are with company.
Every now and then I get on a reading kick where I begin by reading the first work of an author and then work my way through much of what they have written. I am now on an Ayn Rand kick. I hope I survive it. She is different, but she emphasizes the danger of being phony and pleasing just to get in the favor of people. She is an individualist to the extreme. For some reason as I’m reading her works I hear a voice saying: she would not be real crazy about church and its insistence that we all think and do alike. Oh, for a church where we could be individuals and not have to stay with the status quo but somehow create our own status quo.
But it is hard to break out of a preservationist mentality exactly for the reason that David wrote against this psalm. We like telling each other lies and saying things about ourselves which are not true so that we can advance and be thought of as respectable. Jesus didn’t worry about that. He did what he knew his Father demanded and he acted equally. Strive to do the same.