I will also speak of your testimonies before kings
and shall not be put to shame,
Psalm 119:46 ESV
Even though the ESV breaks this verse into a new sentence (unlike verses 41–42 and 44–45), this verse is still very much building upon those before it, which is evidenced by the word also. The psalmist is, therefore, saying that just as he will walk freely in wide places as he keeps God’s law, so too will he declare God’s testimonies before kings without shame.
As we have noted, each of the words that Psalm 119 uses to describe the Scriptures gives emphasis to a different aspect or function of them. While most have to do with how God has instructed us to live (i.e., law, commandments, precepts, statutes, rules), the title testimonies emphasizes what God has revealed about Himself and His will through His Word. Thus, the psalmist is proclaiming that he will unashamedly speak to earthly kings what the King of kings has said of Himself and His will.
We can, of course, think of many biblical examples of this verse. John the Baptist was unashamed to tell Herod that he had violated God’s law. Paul did the same before both rulers and governors, and the prophets frequently rebuked kings. A disconnect can quite clearly be seen between us today and this verse and its biblical principle. Today, in the U.S. at least, it seems that many hold more zealously to the separation of church and state than to the testimonies of God, resolving themselves to speak secularly on political topics rather than unashamedly declaring God’s Word.
Of course, we can remind ourselves that separating the church and the state was not intended to exclude religion entirely from political discourse but to ensure that a particular church or denomination did not become one with the state, intended as a safeguard for religious freedom. However, with the exclusion of Christianity, the religion of secularism has bound itself to the state. The reality is that we cannot overcome secular values such as absolute personal autonomy to the point of infanticide through purely secular arguments. Like Paul, we should prepare ourselves to “destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God” (2 Corinthians 10:5). But to do so, we must be willing, like the psalmist, to unashamedly speak God’s testimonies, even (or perhaps, especially) before rulers.