“Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins. Let them not have dominion over me. Then I will be upright. I will be blameless and innocent of great transgression”
Within many of the sacred stanzas of the Psalms, are prayers breathed. These prayers arise from difficult situations, treachery, the threat of enemies within and without, deep repentance, and thankfulness unto God for salvation and deliverance.
It is very apparent that Psalm 19 was composed by David in his later years. It is a Psalm that reflects the heart of a man who, in his pursuit of God, has recognized his need for the God of light to continually search and keep him pure and right.
Presumptuous sins are ever the blight of the human condition. They can arise from our position in the world, our accomplishments, our associations with others, our knowledge, and a multitude of other things. David knew well his propensity for such things. As the King of Israel, he had taken advantage of his position to cause the death of Uriah and enable adultery with Bathsheba. He had numbered the people of Israel to inflate his pride as to the extent of his kingdom.
Pride is an insidious stain upon the human race and nowhere is it more hidden and deceitful than in the realms of religion. In this Psalm David reveals the sinister nature of presumption and asks his God to prevent him from being overtaken by its dark and deceptive power. There is knowledge borne of very painful experiences, the outcome of unspeakable sins. It is to that end David cries out to God to preserve him from this evil.
Presumption is the result of spiritual blindness;
a knowledge of God without the benefits of seeing God.
We have all witnessed this blinding pride at work in the Church around us; in prayer meetings, in outreach ministries, in building programs, and in associations with great teachers, prophets and leaders. There is pride in the accumulation of knowledge and understanding, and even pride in confessions of spiritual poverty! I know from my own experiences its horror and deception. It can begin with a thought, a good deed, a gracious ministration of His Spirit into the life of another. Instead of being humbled that the God of all glory has chosen to use us as a means of reaching another life, we begin to think of ourselves as special; the concept of “more special” than others is a sure path to Pharisee-ism and spiritual death. How good and faithful is our God to provide us with multiple opportunities to see, turn and repent from this web of deceit.
The hope and cure for this pervading malaise is to spend time in His Holy presence, as David did, in continual prayer that God watch over the affairs of our hearts. In touching Him we are instantly aware of His unspeakable glory. In this wonder pride is eviscerated by the fire of His presence. Grace and mercy are only fully appreciated in the atmosphere of His greatness. The ability to remain free of this presumption is found in our total reliance upon His mercy to keep us and our acknowledgement of our vulnerability. In the measure to which we know ourselves is a corresponding openness to receive admonition from Him and others. Presumption left unchecked becomes pride which leads to a life of callousness and spiritual blindness.
“But the person who does wrong in the pride of his heart, if he is one of you or of another nation by birth, is acting without respect for the Lord, and will be cut off from his people. Because he had no respect for the word of the Lord…”
Numbers 15:30-31 (BBE)
“Search me, O God, and know my heart:
try me, and know my thoughts…”