God’s Word on Courthouse Walls? (Psalm 50:16-17)

Psalm 50:16-17


16 But to the wicked God says:

“What right have you to recite my statutes

or take my covenant on your lips?

17 For you hate discipline,

and you cast my words behind you.


      Should Christians fight to have the Ten Commandments posted in public places such as schools, courthouses, and other such locations?  As you know, many Christians have gone to great lengths to battle for the display of God’s covenant rules in prominent places in our nation.  However, I wonder if these verses of Psalm 50 might make us look at this topic from another angle.


      God, in Psalm 50, tells the wicked, those who live in opposition to his laws, that they have no right to recite the words of his covenant.  If the people who would speak the words of God’s law are at the same time those who have no interest in following God’s law, God wants them to keep the words of his law off of their lips.  It is highly presumptuous to place the laws of God on the walls of buildings where men and women have no concern for such laws and who break those laws every day. 


      Of course, I recognize that many Christians who want the commandments displayed wish to do so as a convicting testimony.  There are those who would say that the law of God needs to be on public display so that the wicked will recognize that they are living and adjudicating in direct opposition to the commands of the Lord.  To such a group I have no objection.  But let’s be sure that we are honest about why we want the word of God on the courthouse wall.  IF we want that word there as a witness against the evil of the godless courts, let’s say so. 


      Perhaps some want the law of God displayed on the walls of buildings in order to battle for a continued religious freedom in the US.  It is possible that, allowing the courts to sanitize their walls of Scripture could be a step in allowing the government to violate our constitutional freedom to worship.  Again, if this is the motivation of those wanting the words on the walls, let’s be sure that this is made plain in our demands.


      It is also possible, to a point , that the law of God made public will help to hold the nation back from sinning to the fullest degree it is capable.  In Galatians 3, Paul talks of the law being given because of transgressions (Gal 3:19).  It is possible that this verse means that God gave Israel the law to prevent them from sinning to a point of destruction until the promised one came.  It is possible then, that putting the law on the courthouse walls can have a governing influence on our sinful behavior in the nation.  But again, let’s be sure that we know what we are doing when we fight for that outcome.


      With those possibilities mentioned, let’s be sure that we recognize that God is in no way honored when lost people who neither know him nor love him recite his word.  He does not speak well of this action in Psalm 50.  This is because, as Hebrews 11:6 reminds us, it is impossible to please God without first having faith in God.  Thus, we should be very careful wanting to put the words of God in the lips of faithless individuals.


      Adding to the mix and stirring the pot, why are Christians so eager to put in writing laws that many of us are unwilling to follow?  Let’s face it, many in our churches are not the most upstanding folks when it comes to keeping God’s top ten list.  ?What kind of testimony to Christ do we give when we put up words about lying, adultery, coveting, and putting nothing before our God when we are not the best at keeping those rules ourselves?  Yes, we have grace in Christ; but that grace is not license to dishonor and disobey God.  So, if you are going to fight for the commandments being posted, you’d better be under the grace of Christ and still obeying the clear commands of God. 


      Should Christians fight to have the Ten Commandments or other religious displays in public places?  Maybe and maybe not.  For sure, however, Christians need to know exactly why they want such things in the public eye, and be honest with the world as to why it is that they are wanting what they want.  Christians’ let’s be thoughtful about what we demand and be sure that we are well reasoned in our petitioning.