“Do not take me away with the wicked
And with workers of iniquity,
Who speak peace to their neighbors,
But evil is in their hearts.”
There is a whole category of people whose behavior, by and large we excuse. However, God doesn’t. He doesn’t find them acceptable; they and unseen attitudes of their hearts he finds deplorable. They are the kind of people who will say one thing to your face, but say another thing behind your back. And even worse to God than what they say about you is what they think about you in their hearts. The psalmist says they speak peace when they are in front of you, but even before you turn away from them, their minds are flooded with ill will toward you.
We might say they are two-faced. The Bible calls them hypocrites. And though we pretty much excuse their behavior and accept their ways in our culture, there is one who doesn’t. God’s righteous gaze cuts right through the syrupy surface of their lives with utter moral clarity and labels the wickedness of their hypocritical hearts, calling them what they truly are: Workers of iniquity.
Now I realize that at this point in your reading you might be thinking this is anything but an encouraging little devotional thought for the day. And truthfully, it is not. Rather, this is an exhortation. And the exhortation I have for you is twofold:
One, it is most likely that you will rub shoulders today with the kinds of people David describes in this psalm. Be careful of them. Discern their hypocritical hearts and don’t be tainted by their iniquitous ways. If you allow them into your inner circle, they will ensnare you. So be careful.
And two, don’t be one of them. It is so easy to fall into this kind of two-faced living. Ask God to keep you from hypocrisy. Don’t fall into the trap of saying one thing but thinking another in your heart. Ask God for integrity of word and thought.
That’s what David prayed: Keep me from them, and keep me from being one of them. Hope you will pray that too!
“Next to hypocrisy in religion, there is nothing worse than hypocrisy in friendship.”
— Joseph Hall