Our culture wouldn’t do well with today’s psalm. It’s pretty intolerant.
I find it ironic (and sadly funny) that those who preach tolerance are very intolerant of those who disagree with them in any way, shape, or form. To be truly tolerant is to allow room for any view, no matter how whacked out, messed up, or evil you believe it to be. Yet, I don’t know of any person who is truly tolerant.
Think about it. You tell someone about your faith in Jesus, and they reply, “Wow. I’m glad you’ve found your truth” or something similar to that phrase. You can deduce from that statement that they’re glad you’ve found your truth, but it isn’t true for them. Here’s the rub–the gospel is true for everyone. That’s why you hear so many people speak of Christians needing to keep their faith to themselves. Such people are still intolerant, no matter how tolerant they claim to be. If they want to truly be tolerant, they need to be cool with Christians telling them about Jesus (even if they still reject it). But most aren’t.
No one is truly tolerant.
Psalm 101 is truly intolerant. Read it in full:
I will sing of lovingkindness and justice, to You, O Lord, I will sing praises. I will give heed to the blameless way. When will You come to me? I will walk within my house in the integrity of my heart. I will set no worthless thing before my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not fasten its grip on me. A perverse heart shall depart from me; I will know no evil. Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor, him I will destroy (silence); no one who has a haughty look and an arrogant heart will I endure. My eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me; he who walks in a blameless way is the one who will minister to me. He who practices deceit shall not dwell within my house; he who speaks falsehood shall not maintain his position before me. Every morning I will destroy (silence) all the wicked of the land, so as to cut off from the city of the Lord all those who do iniquity.
At first glance, this seems like the author is pretty darn intolerant and self-righteous. But on closer examination, his intolerance isn’t necessarily of people, but of sin. He won’t allow evil, arrogance, slander, and deceit to get a grip on him. Here’s the thing–the author is David, the great king of the Old Testament. At points in his life, all of these things got a grip on him. He was a terrible father, an adulterer, a murderer, and an arrogant jerk. It’s no wonder that he sings to God–only God can forgive him. It’s possible that this is a psalm of repentance and dedication.
There are times we must be intolerant. Nothing destroys relationships like slander; therefore, we may have to avoid a slanderous person. Nothing annoys and cuts down like pride; therefore, we may have to cut off a relationship with an arrogant jerk who sees himself as better than others. Sometimes it may be a friend. It hurts. It’s painful. But sometimes it is necessary–for our sakes (so that we don’t get caught up in it), and for theirs (so that they know that what they’re doing isn’t right, and is hurtful).
What parts of your own life do you need to be intolerant of?