Judge me, YHWH, for I have walked in my integrity; I also have trusted in YHWH; I shall not slide. Psalm 26:1
Slide – James has a Greek expression for this Hebrew word. It was dipsuchos (two psyche). Most contemporary English translations use “waver” for the Hebrew ma’ad. But Hebrew is a tactile, phenomenological language and it is much more likely that the basic meaning here is sliding back and forth, shaking and slipping rather than the Greek mental state. That distinction is important. Let’s see why.
Have you ever tried to keep your mental focus completely on God’s purposes for your life? Were you successful? Were you able, day after day, hour after hour, to think of nothing but what the Spirit brought to mind? Or did you find that other thoughts crowded in? Did you discover that even as you intently concentrate on the study of God’s Word or apply yourself in prayer or meditate on His goodness, distracting sparks kept popping up? If you’re like most believers, it is a real battle to keep a single mind on the things of God. Mental capability flags and soon we are immersed once more in the trivial, mundane and even corrupt. Yes, we desire to bring every thought captive, but it’s not easily done.
If David is talking about the interference of distracting or corrupting thoughts, then his declaration of fidelity seems woefully misrepresented. Do you think David was of a single mind when he walked the roof top of the palace and spied a woman taking a bath? Do you think he was intently fixed on the purposes of God when he ordered the census? You might reply, “Well, David must have written this psalm before he ran into those difficulties.” Yes, that’s possible, but then how does this psalm help us. Should it read, “I shall not slide as long as circumstances don’t present the opportunity”?
The difficulty we face is that the Hebrew expression ma’ad isn’t about how we think. It’s about what we do! Take a look at Proverbs 25:19. Sliding around is like a bad tooth or an unsteady foot. I don’t recall the last time that anyone compared thoughts to bad teeth or unsteady feet, but we certainly understand the imagery when it is applied to behavior. Indecisive, unreliable, wavering, uncertain – that’s a biblical description of a fool, and it’s not about his thinking. It’s about the action that follows. I can doubt. I can waver back and forth. I can be undecided – right up to the point where I choose to be obedient. Then I set aside all that inner mental turmoil and do what God asks! When I can’t seem to do what He wants, I shake, rattle and roll. I am branded a fool by my behavior, not my mental dyslexia.
So, stop worrying about your thinking. You’ll have more than enough time to consider the impact of your thoughts once you settle the issue of behavioral decisions. Like David, trust YHWH and do what is right in His eyes. Your thinking will tag along behind.
Topical Index: slide, double-minded, waver, ma’ad, Psalm 26:1
For a previous look at the same verse, go here.