317 – Psalm 17 – What’s Your Part?

We’ve been working on determining the Hebrew poetic structure of Psalm seventeen. I had planned to continue the exercise, but then something caught my eye. Let’s take a momentary observational diversion. We’ve already looked at verse three, but it is part of a new observation, so I’ve included it here.

Psalm 17:3-6 (LEB)

     3 You have tried my heart; 

     you have examined me by night; 

     you have tested me; you found nothing. 

     I have decided that my mouth will not transgress. 

     4 As for the works of humankind, 

     by the word of your lips, 

     I have kept from the ways of the violent. 

     5 I have held my steps in your path 

     My feet will not slip. 

     6 As for me, I have called on you 

     because you will answer me, O God. 

     Incline your ear to me. 

     Hear my words. 

Notice the words I’ve bolded. David recounts to Yahweh his own actions. David had, “decided, kept, held, and called” some things. But before enumerating his actions David acknowledges some things that Yahweh had done. Yahweh tried David’s heart, examined him by night, tested him, and found nothing. This is not an exhaustive list by any means but David tells of some things that Yahweh has done in their relationship, then lists what he has done.

I wonder how many Christians today think in terms of “God’s part, my part” of the relationship. Too often we expect God to do some things for us, but do we ever make a conscious effort to do our part? Do we view the imperatives (commands) in the New Testament as a burdensome list of dos and don’ts we are powerless to keep? How many of us have asked God to change us over and over again but have staunchly refused to take responsibility for our own actions? We can too easily adopt the attitude I guess I’ll just keep repeating my bad behavior until Jesus takes it away from me.

The sobering truth here is David took responsibility for his own actions. He decided that his mouth would not transgress. David chose to keep from the ways of the violent. Additionally, David held his steps in Yahweh’s path. It was David who was determined to call on Yahweh. If we were to summarize David’s actions we could say he controlled what he said, where he went, and what he did, and he determined to call to Yahweh continuously.

It would be nice if, once we became Christians Jesus would just “fix” us, but He doesn’t. What Christ does do is walk with us. He empowers us by His Holy Spirit, through His Holy Word to change. Think about it this way, if it were Christ’s responsibility to change our behavior then there wouldn’t be any commands or imperatives in the New Testament!

Need a place to start? I like the way the Lexham English Bible renders this next verse.

2 Timothy 2:15 (LEB)

15 Make every effort to present yourself approved to God, a worker having no need to be ashamed, guiding the word of truth along a straight path.

Yahweh God has given us everything we need to live victorious Christian lives. Isn’t it time we take responsibility for our part?

Yahweh truly is worthy of all Praise, Worship, Adoration, and Service!

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