“Away from me, you evildoers, that I may keep the commands of my God!” -Psalm 119:115
This verse has two contrasting actions- ‘away’ and ‘keep’. The objects in which the psalmist is referring to are worth observing. The writer desires to separate himself from sin and wickedness. This is why he wants distance from corrupted characters who could potentially influence him, or continue his own suffering through persecution. What a helpful verse to remind fellow Christians who to surround ourselves with. What kind of company we keep is important to the Lord, so it should be an area of interest to us as well.
Paul wrote in his letter to the Corinthians, “Bad company corrupts good character” (1 Corinthians 15:33). He was addressing an issue in which some were disputing the resurrection of the dead, which would imply that Jesus did not resurrect. On this vital truth the house of faith stands or falls. So Paul went on to say the people we spend a lot of time with will influence our thinking, for good or bad. This doesn’t mean we refrain from relationships with unbelievers. The Gospels are full of stories in which Jesus ate with sinners, healed the unclean and showed compassion to the “worst of the worst”. It is a beautiful reminder of what we all once were in our sin (Ephesians 2:1-10). Yet the intimate fellowship Jesus chose consisted of 3 men. Though they too were sinners, Peter, James and John served the Lord. They were Christians and simply loved Jesus.
The writer of Psalm 119 desires holiness, to be set apart for God’s use. Therefore he seeks to remember and obey God’s Word alone. The Lord establishes him in grace by awakening the desire to be holy and then fight for it, as the world, his flesh, and the devil seek to destroy this pilgrim’s light. What a gracious reminder that as we follow our Father, the company we keep on earth can influence our worldview as well. Like Eve in the Garden, who chose to entertain the serpent’s seed of doubt, “Did God really say…?” and then acted on the lies told to her. Let us learn from her example and instead persevere like the psalmist, boldly declaring to be set apart from evil which corrupts our fellowship with the Lord. Choose good friends wisely. Let them be an encouragement to you and not a detour in your faith.
Grace upon grace,
Growing deeper: Psalm 1