Li Se Senyè

This morning Jim asked us to study Psalm 15 for our morning Bible time. The assignment was to find eleven character qualities that please God. Can you find them? The brief text says:

A Psalm of David.

1 O LORD, who may abide in Your tent?

Who may dwell on Your holy hill?

2 He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness,

And speaks truth in his heart.

3 He does not slander with his tongue,

Nor does evil to his neighbor,

Nor takes up a reproach against his friend;

4 In whose eyes a reprobate is despised,

But who honors those who fear the LORD;

He swears to his own hurt and does not change;

5 He does not put out his money at interest,

Nor does he take a bribe against the innocent.

He who does these things will never be shaken.

It is common for readers to misunderstand this as a list of qualities one must have in order to get to heaven (insert obnoxious buzzer sound here). There is a more likely (not to mention biblical) understanding of this psalm. Before the face of God David was recruiting the kind of people he wanted to serve in Jerusalem. That’s the “holy hill” where God’s tent was. A godly leader surrounds himself with godly advisors. He knows that his “business” will be carried on in full view of the Lord.

This is significant on at least two levels. First, leaders are only as good as their advisors. The heaven-directed foresight which allowed David to rule successfully for so long was lacking in some other kings. When Saul started his reign, “the valiant men whose hearts God had touched went with him” (1 Samuel 10:26). But after his heart began craving other places of refuge we are told, “when Saul saw any mighty man or any valiant man, he attached him to his staff” (1 Samuel 14:52). Saul thought he could do better than God’s kind of counsel. That is why Saul ended his life with a medium as an advisor.

King Reheboam the son of Solomon lost more than half the kingdom when he listened to his childhood friends instead of the wisdom of his father’s advisors (2 Chronicles 10:8). Ahab lost his life because—within the sovereign plan of God—he surrounded himself with “yes men” (2 Chronicles 18:9-13).

But this is not just about leaders creating a team of other leaders. The second significant application of this text is that the rest of us are only as good as the people to whom we listen. David not only listed the qualities of good servants of the king, he listed the qualities of good role models for us. You become like those to whom you listen the most. That applies to close friendships, instructors, business dealings and churches. Be careful whom you admire.

Adventure report: One of the men who regularly seeks me out after class to ask questions decided to try teaching me a song in Creole. After my 8 p.m. class, while I was lowering my body temperature, in the pool, Johnny worked with me in rote memorization. This morning I surprised the men at the start of my first class by asking them to sing “Li Se Senyè” (“He Is Lord”) and then joining them (Johnny wrote down the words for me).

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