July 11, 2014
“For the Lord is righteous, He loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face.”
Psalm 11: 7
Character Counts – Part II
“Upright Doesn’t Mean You’re Not Lying Down”
“Upright” – Morally honorable.
“When one has to seek the honour that comes from God only, he will take the withholding of the honour that comes from men very quietly indeed.”
What does the phrase “an upright life” mean to me?
“Light arises in the darkness for the upright, gracious, compassionate, and just who are in right standing with God.”
Psalm 112: 4
There’s a phrase in the English language – “crooked as a dog’s hind leg.” I took a look last night at our little dog, Ethel. She is a miniature dachshund. We love her dearly. And sure enough, both her short little hind legs are very crooked.
I’ve often heard this phrase used in reference to people who are not honest. “What a crook,” someone might say, “You know, they’re crooked as a dog’s hind leg.”
In Scripture, the word crooked is used in direct contrast to the word upright. In Hebrew the word upright means “straight.” This is most likely why we often say, “They’re straight as an arrow.” Have you ever tried to hit the bull’s eye on a target with a crooked arrow? It’s an impossible task!
But there’s more to learn about what it means to be “upright.”
We get our first lesson in Genesis when God came in the evening to the Garden of Eden to meet with His friends, Adam and Eve. The pair was nowhere to be found. They were hiding from the God who created them. Ashamed. Embarrassed. Heads down, they knew they couldn’t stand “upright” in God’s presence. You see, an upright person has no problem standing “straight up” in God’s presence. An upright person has no problem standing next to a righteous God.
It is interesting to me that the Psalmist David, more than any other Old Testament writer, talks about the blessings that come to the upright. After our view into David’s life, I ask you, “Who better to show us the contrast between the upright and the crooked?”
In Hebrew, the word “crooked,” used by Moses in Deuteronomy to describe a generation of people (Deuteronomy 32:5), means tortuous or crafty. Sadly, both these words describe David during his lifetime.
After being anointed king by God, chosen and selected by the Almighty when only a teenager, David became, as king, an example of “upright” living. Then one sad day, lust and passion overtook David. Another man’s wife looked better than all the wives the king had. So David took what wasn’t his. But he didn’t just stop by taking Bathsheba for a one-night stand. When he found out she was pregnant, he instructed the captain of his army to put Bathsheba’s faithful husband at the front of the battle line, insuring his death. Now the “crafty” David, thinking he had solved his problem, rode in like a knight in shining armor to rescue the heartbroken yet pregnant, widow. However, people got to talking when a few months later the cry of a baby was heard in the palace. David’s family, servants, friends and subjects could count and it hadn’t been nine months since Bathsheba entered the palace. Oops! People started to talk. And here’s where the word “crooked” turned into “torturous,” for it was David who was living a “torturous” life. No longer was he the admired, upright leader, comfortably standing straight in the presence of a righteous God.
David found out that living a crooked, crafty, tortuous life was painful. This is why nearly 26 times he reminds us about the blessings and bounty of living an “upright” life. A life where we can stand up straight in the presence of our Father and not be afraid. “The righteous shall be glad in the Lord, and shall trust in Him, and all the upright in heart shall glory” (Psalm 64: 10, K.J.V.). What a lesson to learn from someone who had seen first hand where a crooked life can lead.
Oh, to be clean as a mountain river! Clean as the air above the clouds, or on the middle seas! As the throbbing ether that fills the gulf between star and star! Nay, as the thought of the Son of Man Himself.”
“Still to the lovely soul
He doth Himself impart,
And for His dwelling and His throne
Chooseth the pure in heart.
Lord, we Thy presence seek;
May ours this blessing be;
Give us a pure and lowly heart,
A temple meet for Thee.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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