I’m currently listening to the Bible’s history books of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles. Two phrases stand out to me about the rulers of Israel and Judah: “He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord” and “He did what was evil in the eyes of the Lord.” No recorded king was in the middle, sitting on the fence trying to decide whether he would serve the Lord or the people and their myriad gods. Sometimes righteous kings ruled a long time (Joash- 40 years); sometimes the wicked prevailed ( Manasseh-55 years). Righteous fathers sometimes had evil sons, and evil fathers sometimes begat righteous sons. Righteousness and evil were determined by the decisions each king made.
The psalmist in this passage identified the most important distinction between the righteous and the unrighteous: acknowledging their utter helplessness without God. The kings who prayed,”teach me Your laws” found life, while the kings who followed their own council ultimately found war, disease, and death without honor.
Ancient kings in the Middle East may have had more power than we, but we have the same decisions to make: whom do we trust? From whom do we derive hope?
Current events make clear to us whom we choose. Too many believers trust in government proclamations, spiritual leaders, community pressure, or social media to guide our decisions. We ignore the psalmist’s counsel to look to God’s promise, precepts, and statutes. God has given us minds to think. We are able to look at information and be wise (James 3:13-18) without treating others scornfully and engaging in pointless arguments (James 4:12; Galatians 5:25-26).
What is righteous in our lives is not of ourselves, but is from God. No matter the times, we who say we belong to the Lord must continually ask for His wisdom and delight in His law. His promise is good, and His righteousness gives life.