Swear to my own hurt? Huh?

I stumbled over a verse today, milling it around in my head when I went running. It’s this: “He swears to his own hurt and does not change” (Psalms 15:4b, NASB). I wondered what it meant to swear to my own hurt and then not change. As an American, I always view change as good, exciting even, so to see a verse tell me that it’s good to NOT change baffled me a bit.

But as I thought about it, I guessed the verse probably meant something about keeping commitments even when I didn’t feel like it. I looked up the verse in other Bibles, which confirmed my suspicions:

The NET Bible: He makes firm commitments and does not renege on his promise.

NIV: who keeps his oath even when it hurts

NLT: and keep their promises even when it hurts

In the context of Psalm 15, it makes sense. David asks God who can dwell in His tent, then answers with:

  • those who walk in integrity
  • those who work righteousness
  • those who speak truth in their hearts
  • those who refrain from slander
  • those who don’t do evil to a neighbor
  • those who don’t reproach a friend

Then verse four comes in, followed by a few more words about not charging interest or taking bribes.

So, if I want to dwell, really dwell, in God’s presence, I need to keep my commitments even when it hurts me. Isn’t that the nature of love? Sacrifice? Sure, there are times I don’t feel like giving myself away or following through on a promise, but if I love, I will do it anyway.

The best part of the verse is its ending. David says:

He who does these things will never be shaken.

I love that. Walking in integrity, even when others don’t see or care is what will help us stay firmly rooted. We won’t be shaken if we walk that path. That’s great news, folks!

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