The insolent smear me with lies,
but with my whole heart I keep your precepts;
Psalm 119:69 ESV
The insolent in this verse are those who lord themselves over God’s Word. Like scoffers, they mock and belittle the testimonies of the Most High, rejecting His authority over them as their Creator. Indeed, like the fools that they are, they have likely convinced themselves that there is no God. We should not be surprised that those who lie to themselves also smear God’s people with lies. Rightly did Jesus speak of them, saying,
You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.John 8:44
This played out vividly during Jesus’ trial before the Sanhedrin. Truth Himself stood before the council of religious leaders, but they “were seeking testimony against Jesus to put him to death, but they found none. For many bore false witness against him, but their testimony did not agree” (Mark 14:55-56). If Christ was so smeared with lies, how much more can His followers expect such reception? Persecution does not need to be purely physical in nature; rather, much persecution comes by way of slander and false witness.
Even so, we must follow the pattern of the psalmist and ultimately of our Lord Himself. Regardless of the lies that are hurled upon us, we must commit ourselves to faithfully keep God’s precepts with our whole heart. Indeed, we should strive to practice the words of Titus 2:7-8:
Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.
If we give our whole-hearted devotion to following God’s commands and modeling good works, slander will certainly still come. Lies will no doubt still be smeared. But they will not ultimately stick. God’s justice will ensure that at least on the last day every false witness will be put to shame. Let us rest in that final vindication still to come, and let us devote ourselves to be models of good works in the likeness of our Lord.