“Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me, O Lord God of hosts; let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me, O God of Israel.” (Ps. 69:6)
I spent my entire devotion time this morning on this verse. The psalm starts off with David being falsely accused. They “hate him without a cause” (v. 4). He is attacked with lies. It probably jumped out at me because, as I shared with you, a few days ago, there was an article in the Jerusalem Post that attacked me by name. It's a strange thing to see your name in the most famous English-language Israeli newspaper, suggesting that you are a man of bad intentions.
When I read the comments about me, I did feel a little bit like David: “Why do they hate me... they don't even know me.” They don't understand that we share our faith because of an intense love for them, not from some evil motive.
I’m Not Guiltless
In v. 5, David admits that while he is not guilty of what they are accusing him of, he is not sinless. “O God, you know my folly; the wrongs I have done are not hidden from you.” I could also relate to that. I can't hide from God; he knows my איוולתי )folly(.
Now we get to the heart of this little blog. In v. 6, he prays: “Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me, O Lord God of hosts; let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me, O God of Israel.”
One of the difficulties of translating the Hebrew scriptures is syntax. They don't write their sentences the way we do. Here's an example: a crude way of translating the first part of verse six would be:
אַל־יֵבֹשׁוּ בִי קֹוֶיךָ אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה צְבָאוֹת
Don’t them embarrassed in me—hopers in you Lord Yahweh of hosts.
It doesn’t make much sense. But what he is saying in ancient Hebrew is: Don’t let those whose hope is in you, be shamed because [of my sin,] Lord Yahweh of hosts; don’t let those who seek you, be dishonored because [of my sin].
It reminds me of the prayer of Yabetz, or as you might know him, Jabez. A relatively unknown author wrote a small book that went viral, before viral meant viral, in the early 90s. It sold 3.5 million in four months. He took an obscure prayer prayed by the unknown Jabez (1 Chr. 4:10) and turned it into a powerful outline for devotions. Let me summarize it for you in four lines:
1. He prays for blessing.
2. He prays for more territory, or in our day, one might pray for influence.
3. He prays for God's hand to be on him, what we might call God's anointing.
4. The fourth phrase is a little tricky: The NKJV translates it, “and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain.” It can also be translated: “so that I will not be pained.”
For the purposes of this blog, I will use the NKJV translation. It could be understood that he is concerned that his sin could cause others pain. That is something that every pastor or leader should be concerned about. That is what David seems to be saying or something close.
1. “Don't let my sin bring shame to your followers.” He admits his sin in v. 5.
2. “Defend me against all of my accusers so that those who put their hope in you will see that you defend your followers.” This goes back to the earlier verses where he is falsely accused.
Second Chance or I Hate Authority?
I was reading a book the other day that mentioned a well-known mega-church pastor. He now leads a church called The Second Chance Church. That would have been an excellent name for a church if it was not explicitly related to his own second chance. After dealing with personal issues that led to a divorce, he remarried and started The Second Chance Church. How convenient.
I have seen this trend many times. A famous pastor commits adultery. He is disciplined. Then he bucks that discipline, saying, “No man can keep me from God’s call.” Then, he starts a new church that focuses on second chances, grace, and mercy. Of course, the question is, “Why didn’t you focus on second chances, grace, and mercy in your previous church?” When will leaders understand that having spiritual authority over people in ministry is a sacred privilege, not a God-given right. Paul tells us that our sin can disqualify us from ministry (1 Cor. 9:27).
I don't know this man personally. And I'm certainly not his judge. But I do know that at one time, tens of thousands of believers were watching his sermons every week. When we fall into sin as leaders, it doesn't just affect us, it hurts those to whom we minster and brings shame to the people of God.
I remember in the late 80s during the PTL scandal and then the Jimmy Swaggart affair, it was hard to talk to people about Jesus. Why? These guys were so famous and well known that when it was exposed that one was living a lavish lifestyle, selling fake timeshares, and committing adultery, and the other had an issue with prostitutes, it brought shame on the gospel.
I'm not sure if that is what Jabez was praying—that his sin would not cause pain to God’s people. It's certainly a more noble prayer than simply asking God to keep you from suffering—something that we all experience to one degree or another. I do think that this was David's heart in Psalm 69.
The Murdering of Uriah
We have to wonder how many people in the kingdom of Israel knew that David had murdered Uriah, stolen his wife, Bathsheba, and gotten her pregnant. What would the people have thought—to see this man dancing and leaping for joy in the Lord if they knew he was also a murderer? And let me be clear, I am not judging David either. He's probably my favorite figure in the Bible (next to Yeshua, of course).
But knowing how imperfect I am, I pray the prayer of Jabez almost every day. And I pray it according to the NKJV translation. I ask God to keep me from evil so that I might not cause others pain. Some people love power so much, that they will endure great shame and humiliation to achieve it. We see that in politics all the time!
Every leader should ask God for grace to say no to temptation so that we do not bring pain to the Body of Messiah. We are all capable of falling. There, but for the grace of God, go I.