The Hebrews' ancient hymnal begins with a song that addresses one of life's most common grinds: compromise. Please understand, I'm not referring to those give-and-take times so necessary for living in harmony with one another. Without that healthy kind of compromise, nations could never find a meeting ground for peaceful co-existence and family members would forever be at each other's throats.
I'm thinking, rather, of compromising with wrong, allowing the slow-moving tentacles of evil to wrap themselves around us, squeezing the joys and rewards of obedience from our lives. It happens so silently, so subtly, we hardly realise it's taking place. Like an enormous oak that has decayed for years from within and then suddenly falls, those who permit the eroding grind of compromise can expect an ultimate collapse.
I recall reading years ago of the construction of a city hall and fire station in a small northern Pennsylvania community. All the citizens were so proud of their new red brick structure—a long-awaited dream come true. Not too many weeks after moving in, however, strange things began to happen. Several doors failed to shut completely and a few windows wouldn't slide open very easily. As time passed, ominous cracks began to appear in the walls. Within a few months, the front door couldn't be locked since the foundation had shifted, and the roof began to leak. By and by, the little building that was once the source of great civic pride had to be condemned. The culprit proved to be a controversial coal extraction process called "longwall mining," deep in the earth beneath the foundation. Soil, rock, and coal had been removed by the tons so that the building sat on a foundation that had no support of its own. Because of this man-made erosion, the building began to sink.
So it is with compromise in a life. Slowly, almost imperceptibly, one rationalization leads to another, which triggers a series of equally damaging alterations in a life that was once stable, strong, and reliable. That seems to be the concern of the psalmist as he composes his first song, which encourages us to resist even the slightest temptation to compromise our convictions.
The Passage and Its Pattern
The First Psalm is brief and simple, direct and profound. Even a casual reading of these six verses leads us to see that it is filled with contrasts between two different walks of life—the godly and the ungodly. A simple yet acceptable outline of Psalm 1 would be:
I. The Godly Life (vv. 1–3)
II. The Ungodly Life (vv. 4–6)
Written between the lines of this ancient song is evidence of the age-old battle in which all of us are engaged: compromise—the erosion of our good intentions.
Adapted from Charles R. Swindoll, Living the Psalms: Encouragement for the Daily Grind (Brentwood, Tenn.: Worthy Publishing, a division of Worthy Media, Inc., 2012). Copyright © 2012 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved. Used by permission.