“Character of the Committed”

“Preserve my soul, for I am a godly man…” Psalm 86:2

 One of my favorite children’s books is Judith Viorst’s classic Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. It is a redundancy of all the terrible things that keep Alexander from having the kind of day he could call “good,” or “pleasant,” or, yeah, “fun!” This bombardment of negative circumstances and happenstances finally drives him to conclude—I think I’ll move to Australia. Sorry Alexander, mama is right, they have days just like the one you experienced, even in Australia!!

Now what if this little sequence of events in the life of a grade-school boy was actually a normal day, or worse still,   a good day? What if Alexander is getting a pass, and his life could be much worse than bubble gum where it does not belong, or railroad train pajamas? What do you imagine Alexander saying then? To where could he move, since we have already established the fact that Australia is out of the question?  Voirst—Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No-good, very Bad Day

I was struck quite recently by a Psalm of David that appears to be addressing this very thing. Strictly speaking, it is called a Song of Lament. These songs in scripture focus on situations, circumstances, and/or events that toss and batter the believer relentlessly. It comes to a crescendo when the psalmist cries (literally, with tears included) out to God—Enough! God come rescue me from this ________________ (you can fill in the blank).

David uses the term “soul” five times in the seventeen verses. Understand that soul here means “life” or the “whole person.” Seen through this lens, David is really in a life-or-death struggle; the adversary is an arrogant bunch, playing in a band called Violent! It was rotten music to David’s ears; thugs on the loose pursuing David as if he had a bounty on his head.

I have already stated that this is a Song of Lament. So, we should expect to hear things like:

Come close so I can tell you in your ear how bad things really are (v1, 6)

Save me (v2)

Give me an extra measure of your grace (v3, 16)

Teach me (v11, 16)

Give me extra strength that I don’t currently possess (v16)

Lament psalms are also loaded with a long list of character qualities and acts that God define who God is and what He does for those who cry out to Him:



Ready to forgive.

Abundant in lovingkindness.

No one like You’ No works like Yours.

You are great and do wondrous deeds.

You delivered me.

You are merciful and gracious.

Slow to anger, abundant in lovingkindness and truth


We can gloss over these wonderful and encouraging statements on the way to the pity party. And in so doing, miss out on the work that God is doing within. This is what strikes me about David, he is honest and responsive, ready to attach His wagon to God’s leading. I love this: first thing out of the shoot he says I am a godly man (v2). That seems audacious (first glance). Until we turn the soil a bit and discover that “godly” describes someone who keeps commitment and lives faithfully, against the odds of necessary. It is one who reflects the character of God in actions and personality. It signifies the nature of those who are set apart by God to be the examples and mediators of His goodness and fidelity. David’s commitment to God is certain and unrelenting.

Second, he trusts God unequivocally. This is a stance of surrender and abandonment, turning over every aspect of his life into God’s care. And why not? He is bold to proclaim the goodness, forgiveness, love of God in a healthy manner that he calls “fear” (fear is multi-dimensional in the OT, ranging from “shaking in your boots” to “adoration, intimacy, and worship to one who is lovingly superior).

Third, he is completely teachable, in an “eyes-wide-open” kind of way. I can hear David saying it something like this: Tell it to me straight, God, because I don’t want to miss a thing. And when you are done giving instruction, I going to go right out and do just what You said. I love the tenacious spirit of such obedience.

This reveals the character of the committed. It is a long obedience in the same direction that is steady and focused. Such a person is equipped to withstand every life-altering event, every life-threatening accusation, every life-robbing circumstance with a strength and insight that can only come from connection with Christ. Let’s encourage each other to be this kind of person, this kind of faithful follower and friend of God.

Blessings on the Journey, 

Pastor Dewayne