Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Week Forty-Five - Upright


“Good and upright is the LORD: therefore will he teach sinners in the way.”  Psalm 25:8

“To shew that the LORD is upright: he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.”  Psalm 92:15

Upright – straight, correct, level, right, straightforward, just and proper.  This attribute of God is rarely discussed.  We enjoy hearing about the attributes of love, mercy, forgiveness and grace.  When laid alongside uprightness these take on an element of stringency. 

Today the understanding of this quality of uprightness is so needed.  Without it we get the comments, “I don’t need God to forgive me.  He just needs to accept me as I am.”  Or,  “God made me the way I am.  I can’t change.”  No.  God is upright.  That means he has a standard, a measure, from which He works.  When we deviate from this standard we are in sin.  It is then, by His mercy that we are not consumed or destroyed.

But, back to upright – without this measure everything goes haywire.  Man does his own thing.  Such waywardness is not a quality of our God.  He is straight and correct.  His ways are right and his judgments clear.  He is level and straightforward.  His commandments and expectations are open and not grievous.  His manner of life is just and proper.  It brings blessing to all who walk accordingly.

Such is our God – an upright, loving, and merciful God.  He loves his children and expects them to obey.  His commandments are there to teach and to bless.  There is no ulterior motive.  Love is the key.  Just as a good parent, he sets boundaries and guidelines.  These bring harmony and joy.

Do you view God this way?  Or do you balk at His commands?  Do you expect God to just overlook your discrepancies? Do you think he will wink at and dismiss your disobedience?



“With the merciful thou wilt shew thyself merciful, and with the upright man thou wilt shew thyself upright.” II Samuel 22:26

“I was also upright before him, and I kept myself from mine iniquity.  Therefore hath the LORD recompensed me according to my righteousness, according o the cleanness of my hands in his eyesight.  With the merciful thou wilt shew thyself merciful; with an upright man thou wilt shew thyself upright…”  Psalm 18:23-25

Here we have the word used both in relation to man and to God.  It could read:  “….with the man of integrity whose life is unimpaired and wholesome, thou, God wilt shew thyself to be fully able to finish what you have started in his life.  You will make him sound and you will deal with him in integrity.”

It is one of those comparative verses.  If you do this, then I will do that.  In II Samuel it form part of one of the Songs of David.  Starting in verse one David recounts the deliverance from the enemy and the almighty power of God displayed in the heavens.  Then, he comes down to God’s personal work in his own life.  In verses 24 & 25 David says, “I was also upright before him, and have kept myself from mine iniquity.  Therefore the LORD hath recompensed me according to my righteousness…”

Now we have a bit of an issue.  David’s sin and poor decisions are written for all eternity.  How can he say he was upright before God and had kept himself from iniquity? How can he claim to be upright?

It can be only through the uprightness of God who forgives and restores.  David’s sins are recorded, but also his repentance.  One has only to read Psalm 51 to see the depth of sincerity at David’s recognition and acceptance of his sin.  He also knows the sincerity and integrity of God who will forgive those of a broken spirit and a contrite heart.  Once sin is forgiven it is purged. 

David can stand before God in his uprightness knowing that all of his sin is accounted for.  He has nothing to hide.  He can rest assured of God’s love, blessing and favour.

The same is true for us.  If we will deal uprightly with God, God will deal uprightly with us.  If we are upright in performing our duty, we will find that God is upright in performing his promises.

So where do you stand?  Are you dealing uprightly before God?  Or are you wrestling against him and walking in hostility?  Have you laid your sins at the altar and gone forth cleansed, or are you walking around in dirty clothing?



“Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy all ye that are upright in heart.”  Psalm 32:11

Uprightness of heart produces joy.  This Psalm and so many more verses in Scripture admonish us to express the gladness of our hearts through praise and music.

“When the poet Carpani enquired of his friend Haydn, how it happened that his church music was so cheerful, the great composer made a most beautiful reply.  “ I cannot,” he said, “make it otherwise, I write according to the thoughts I feel: when I think upon God, my heart is so full of joy that the notes dance and leap, as it were, from my pen: and, since God has given me a cheerful heart, it will be pardoned me that I serve him with a cheerful spirit.”  (John Whitecross’s Anecdotes)

This is a wonderful picture of uprightness.  It is an instructive description.  It is a heart that is not horizontal or groveling, nor bent, nor inclined, but vertical – looking up to the heavens with great joy and gratefulness.

When all is right between man and his Saviour, the sweetest and most joyous relationship of formed.  It reminds me of that old song:

Nothing between my soul and my Savior,

Naught of this world’s delusive dream;

I have renounced all sinful pleasure;

Jesus is mine, there’s nothing between.


Nothing between, like worldly pleasure;

Habits of life, though harmless they seem,

Must not my heart from Him ever sever;

He is my all, there’s nothing between.


Nothing between, like pride or station;

Self or friends shall not intervene;

Though it may cost me much tribulation,

I am resolved, there’s nothing between.


Nothing between, e’en many hard trials,

Though the whole world against me convene;

Watching with prayer and much self-denial,

I’ll triumph at last, there’s nothing between.

Nothing between my soul and my Savior,

So that His blessed face may be seen;

Nothing preventing the least of His favor;

Keep the way clear! Let nothing between.




“Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace.”  Psalm 37:37

Thomas Adams said, “Mark him in the setting out, he hath many oppositions; mark him in the journey, he is full of tribulations; but mark in the conclusion, and the end of that man is peace.”

There is a sure reward for the upright; and it is peace.  Peace can have many definitions 1) peace of mind as opposed to doubting, 2) security, 3) absence of despair, 4) end of labour, 5) quietness, 6) peace with neighbours, 7) peace with self, 8) and, the peace of God which passes all understanding.

Life can hold many tribulations.  Just because we seek to live maturely and with integrity does not divorce us from life’s circumstances.  But the manner in which we deal with life brings forth the final fruit.  The upright man lives by solid Christian character.  His uprightness or sincerity determines his motivation, his way, and his end.  His holiness ends in happiness.  His motivation is toward a life of maturity and uprightness and his journey will lead him to rest in peace.

A calmness and quiet assurance is his.  He has lived his life according to God’s standard, and though life might be tumultuous, his life is one of peace in the midst of the storm.  When he pillows his head he has rest and when his journey is finished he lays down full of years and satisfied.

Are you on this path?  Or are you wrestling and fighting?  Are you living in peace and creating peace around you? Would people look at your life and use the words perfect and upright on your epitaph?



“The way of the Lord is strength to the upright: but destruction shall be to the workers of iniquity.  Proverbs 10:29

“The integrity of the upright shall guide them: but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them.”  Proverbs 11:3

“The bloodthirsty hate the upright: but the just seek his soul.”  Proverbs 29:10

Here we have the contrasts between the righteous and the lawless.  The upright knows strength and guidance.  The lawless knows destruction and hate.  This principle is taught extensively through the Proverbs and proven by so many Bible stories.  It is a far-reaching principle of eternal importance and factors into every detail of the Christian’s life and service. It is a measuring rod by which we can check our own motivations. 

“But”, you will say, ”I am not bloodthirsty, perverse or a worker of iniquity.”
And that may be true, but we can all be guilty of acting outside our character.  We can be walking happily along in our Christian life when we encounter an affront.  How do we react then?  Do we maintain our gracious Christian character, or do we dissolve into bad temper, unkind words, or vengeful actions?  Do we get jealous or bloodthirsty when we see others succeeding or receiving blessings we believe we rightly deserve?  The upright would not do so.  Food for thought!

The manner of the upright provokes the malice of the wicked.  They see what is right and good as the condemnation of their own ways.  This is the world in which we currently live.  However, that does not give us excuse to live in like manner.  We are set to be lights to this world, to be different, to be ambassadors of the King.  If we want His strength and guidance, then we must walk according to His ways.

Isaiah 5:20  Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” 

Are you tempted to just give up and go with the crowd?  Does the struggle for purity and uprightness bring weariness to your bones?  Don’t give up.  The reward is for those who endure.  Perseverance.  God will give you strength.

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