1 I love the LORD because he heard my voice; He listened when I cried to him for aid. 2 I’ll call on him as long as I shall live, Because he turned to hear me when I prayed.
3 The cords of death gripped and entangled me, Upon me came the anguish of the grave; With grief and trouble I was overcome. 4 Then on the name of God I called: “LORD, save!”
5 The LORD our God is kind and full of grace; Both righteous and compassionate is he. 6 The LORD protects all those of childlike faith; When I was in great need, he rescued me.
7 Rest, O my soul; God has been good to you— 8 For you, O LORD, have saved my soul from death, My feet from stumbling and my eyes from tears, 9 That I may live for you while I have breath.
10 I trusted in the LORD, and then I spoke; I said in anguish: “I am sorely tried”. 11 And in the very depths of my dismay, “All men are liars—every one!” I cried.
12 How can I thank the LORD for all he’s done? 13 With gratitude salvation’s cup I’ll raise; 14 I’ll call upon his name, and will fulfil My vows to him before his people’s face.
15 The LORD holds dear the death of all his saints. 16 Hear me, O LORD! I am your servant true; I am your servant and your handmaid’s son, And from my chains I have been freed by you.
17 Thank-off’rings I will sacrifice to you And call upon the name of God the LORD. 18 When all his people in assembly meet, With joy I will fulfil my solemn word.
Before his people I will keep my vows, 19 Within the courts of our God’s holy place, Within the city of Jerusalem. Unto the LORD alone be all the praise!
You can hear a Free Church of Scotland congregation sing this, from v5, to the lovely tune Eventide here.
‘Father, I cannot tell a lie” – the famous admission of George Washington that he had felled the cherry tree – was of course a lie, a fabrication. The question posed by the BBC TV panel show. ‘Would I lie to you?’ seems almost rhetorical. Whether we care to acknowledge it or not, lying is part of our standard discourse. Is lying inherent? Are we programmed to deceive? Of course, we offer mitigation – Are white lies really lies? How about the re-assuring lie, the convenient lie, the kindly lie, the lie that resolves the situation …?
We are tutored from childhood to believe that lying is a Bad Thing. My teacher told me I should never tell a lie Because a lie will bring your troubles sure as pie (but I like pie!) It’s an awful thing to do And it’s true as true is true, You’ll get caught and then you’ll start to cry … you’re much better off to never tell a lie. Not even sometimes. Remember, never never tell a lie. (InsideOut A Cappella)
But we do.
Yet, even if there is truth in ‘all are liars’, it’s a dangerous presumption. The Psalmist speaks ‘in my haste’, a knee-jerk reaction, a defensive response, the starting assumption, perhaps even a default position. It’s opposite is trusting. Which creates for better community, more positive relationships, less suspicion? If lying is the norm, many will follow the norm; if trust, then trust is built. There’s a saying in an old Icelandic code: ‘So shall every word be, as it is spoken’ (13th century Jónsbók). Being trustworthy and seeing the other as worthy of trust go hand in hand.
You, O Lord, I trust. It’s other people about whom I’m not so sure. Often, I play ‘safe’ and treat others with suspicion. Help me to trust not only you but my neighbour. Amen
The Rev’d Dr Jack Dyce is Emeritus Professor of Nordic Theology at the Scottish United Reformed and Congregational College and a member of Port Glasgow URC