We live in a circumstantial world. Most people practice, even if they don’t espouse, situational ethics, and it is difficult to get anyone to agree to universal principles. It can be difficult to find someone who acts with integrity; it can be even more difficult to find someone who consistently does so.
If the above is true in normal times, it is even more so when times are difficult. There is a reason that concepts like “mob mentality” of taken root in our culture. When hard times abound, people are often tempted to act against their better nature. When some people are doing this, others are likely to join them.
However, in the Psalms David shows us the folly of this line of thinking. Here was a man who at various times in his life faced a giant that caused trained soldiers to fear, was ruthlessly hunted down by the king who wanted him killed, and who, later in life, even had his own son turn against him. Yet in Psalm 26:11, he wrote these words:
But as for me, I shall walk in my integrity; redeem me, and be gracious to me.
In the preceding verses David makes it clear that this is a commitment that is not contingent on how others behave. Perhaps describing those around him, he writes of “men of falsehood” and “hypocrites” (v 4); “evildoers” and “wicked” (v. 5); “sinners” and “bloodthirsty men” (v. 9). Yet, his dedication to following God’s Word is clear. He is determined to live as God would have him live, regardless of what trouble he encounters.
This should be our commitment too. And it should be a resolve we make long before we face the next time of hard circumstances. Like David, we won’t be perfect in keeping it, but also like David, we are more likely to act in integrity if in our hearts we have predetermined to do so. As we resolve our hearts to this path, we can trust that God will also “redeem [us], and be gracious to [us],” just as He was to David.