He Swears to His Own Hurt

When my grandfather Wallace died, I had the honor of preaching his funeral message. My mother’s father was a great man of God. He was deeply respected and appreciated by the people who knew him, particularly by his church community. For this reason, his memorial service was a time of joy and victory.

I’ve never quite understood all that the Bible means by “Blessed in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints,“ but I recognize that it beautifully fits many Christians. It certainly fit him.

I preached from Psalm 15 at his funeral. That psalm begins by asking a question, “O Lord, who may abide in your tent? Who may dwell on your holy hill?“ The Psalmist wanted to know who is worthy to stand in the presence of God.

The psalm answers that question. According to how you break out the song, there are either five answers or possibly ten answers to the question.

At the heart of the song is this statement, “he swears to his own hurt.“

That statement means that the person is someone of such integrity that he doesn’t look out for himself above others, but is a person of such integrity that the truth is more important than his or her benefit.

What should we say about a person of that kind of integrity?

First, it is the person of integrity who stands righteously before God. Integrity pleases God. The whole psalm is about integrity and right living.

Pleasing God should be more important than anything else we can say about integrity.

Second, swearing to your on hurt means that you place your relationship with God and your fellowman above any personal or financial benefits to yourself. We certainly understand this issue. We are all tempted to look out for “number one“ instead of being a person of total and complete integrity.

Third, integrity is a long term view of life. Integrity can’t be for a moment, it must be for a lifetime. This is the person who pleases God and has respect in his community.

Finally, while integrity may not pay off in the immediate present, it always brings blessings for the long term.

No matter who you are or how old you are, the time will come when you will wish you had been the person of integrity. In case you are wavering on this point, think of this in terms of employment. Consider who you would hire or who you would feel that you had to fire. Isn’t a lack of integrity always a fireable offense? Could you ever afford to hire someone you can’t completely trust?

Psalm 15 ends with these words, “He who does these things shall never be shaken” (Psalm 15:5).

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About Waylon

I am the senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Covington, Louisiana, a position that I have held since 1989.

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God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” — John 4:24 (NIV)