You have said to YHWH, “You are my Lord, I have no goodness except in You.” Psalm 16:2
Said – The Hebrew verb amar is fairly common. It is used in all kinds of situations where the next phrase is a quotation. Since Hebrew has no punctuation, it’s a useful little verb, showing us who said what. But that isn’t the only thing that amar does. The second implication of amar is particularly important in this context. Amar not only introduces a quotation, it also implies that the speaker’s words are followed by actions. This is James’ letter found in the Psalms. What you say is what you do. If you claim to have faith, your life must demonstrate that claim in actions. In Hebrew, the only people who say something but do not do it are liars.
“You are my Lord.” Adonai atah. The phrase is not simply a declaration of belief. It is an obligation to action. If YHWH is my Lord, I am obligated to follow His direction. I do not live according to my own rules. I do not make it up as I go along. For YHWH to be my Lord, I must be His servant. I wait on His instructions, follow His commands and live according to His decisions.
While we don’t give it much thought today, in other ancient cultures such a declaration would have been considered repugnant, insulting and unconscionable. Nothing was more humiliating than to be a servant (slave) of someone else. Outside Israel, freedom from dominion by another was considered absolutely essential to human existence. The Greeks would have vomited at the thought that the path to spirituality was through servitude. If we really think about it, we probably find the same revulsion in our society. When governments and politicians extol the virtues of freedom, they are not expressing the Hebrew point of view. They are endorsing Greek values . . . freedom at any cost. They do not realize or understand that freedom at any cost is destruction, both to society and individuals. There is no freedom in this world. Jesus’ insight into the necessity of serving one master or the other does not find much credence in contemporary worldviews, but He is right. Believers are never called to freedom. They are called to slavery – to acknowledge that “You are my Lord.” Unless we preach slavery, we will never know comfort, security and fulfillment. We will be like the false prophets who cried, “Peace, peace,” when there was no peace. We cry “Freedom, forgiveness and fortune instead of “Adonai atah.”
David appeals to God for preservation. He may do so only because YHWH is his Lord and Master. A Master takes care of a slave. No such obligation exists between a Master and an employee, much less a stranger. The role the Master plays is contingent on the submission and fidelity of the slave. Too many times we hear “Christians” cry “Lord, Lord,” but they do not do what the Lord says. They are not His slaves. They do not use the Hebrew verb amar because their words are not followed with actions. And from a Hebrew point of view, they are not confused or carnal. They are simply liars.
Topical Index: amar, slave, freedom, Lord, Psalm 16:2