WORD STUDY – INTEGRITY – ~תממ
Psalms 25:21: “Let integrity and uprightness preserve me; for I wait on thee.”
Throughout Psalms 25 the Psalmist is saying that if he follows the ways of God he will experience the presence of God and will be protected. Now he is saying that integrity and uprightness will preserve him.
From our English translation our first impression is that it is the Psalmist’s integrity and uprightness that will protect him, Note there is no personal pronoun related to integrity or uprightness. In Psalms 25: 8 we find uprightness attributed to the Lord. This plus the lack of a personal pronoun or any pronoun is not the Psalmist style of writing. The lack of pronouns and verse 8 would suggest that this integrity and uprightness comes from God but as the Psalmist waits on the Lord, God’s integrity and uprightness will become a part of him.
This Hebrew word for wait is the same here qarah. Qarah is used for making rope. Rope is made by tightly binding hundreds of strains of fabric together. In verse 21 we find that the Psalmist expects to be filled with God’s uprightness and integrity during this binding process. As he binds himself to God God’s integrity and uprightness wraps itself around him and he shares in God’s uprightness and integrity. The result will be that he is protected.
The word protected in the Hebrew here is the natsar which means to guard. In verse 20 we also have the word guard in some translations, but that is a different guard, it is the word shamar. Shamar is a gatekeeper or sort of like a security guard who guards a building or office. However, the word used in our study verse for guard is natsar which is more than just a security guard who helps you out. It is a personal body guard whose sole job is to protect you from any harm.
So integrity and uprightness are your personal body guards so I would say that it is important to know just what this integrity and uprightness entails. Uprightness is the word yoshar which means to be perfectly in tune with God so that all you do is correct and right.
Integrity in English means to adhere to moral and ethical principles. The Hebrew word for integrity is tum from the root word tamam which means integrity but much more, it is really the word for perfection and completion. The word is spelled Taw which represents truth, the open Mem which represents the revealed knowledge of God and the closed Mem representing the hidden knowledge of God. Spiritually integrity has the idea of knowing the truth of God’s revealed and hidden knowledge. With that knowledge you will know how to act. As the Psalmist is binding himself to God and God’s tamam is being wrapped around him so he will know how to act perfectly before God and others. If he allows that binding to come unraveled he will not behave perfectly before God and will not be protected.
I saw a movie the other day that involved a civil law suit against a drug company that sold a drug that proved to be deadly. The plaintiff suffered great physical harm from this drug. The defense tried to prove it was not their drug and that the condition the plaintiff suffered was the result of causes other than their drug. They presented an expert witness whose credentials were absolutely undisputable and his testimony positively showed that the defendant’s product had no relationship whatsoever with the condition the plaintiff allegedly suffered. The story line showed that the expert witness was paid off by the defendant to give this testimony. This left the viewing audience wondering how would the plaintiff’s attorney get out of this one. How do you shoot down a credible witness whose resume shows him to be a highly educated man of great integrity. The plaintiff’s attorney simply asked the expert witness why he drove to the trial and did not fly as it was quite a distance. The expert witness said he had extra time and just wanted to drive. The plaintiff pressed the expert witness asking if he did not have time would he have taken a plane. The witness started to become nervous and weakly said he would have. It was then that the plaintiff’s attorney produced a document which showed that the expert witness was on the government’s terrorist list and that he could not legally fly. That he was put on that list for multiple accounts of drunken behavior while in flight. Because he lied under oath his testimony was thrown out. Still there was a jury who heard the expert testimony but they, like any normal citizen, would immediately question the expert’s testimony. If he would lie under oath and was barred from flying for indecent and drunken behavior, could you really trust anything he had to say?
Tamam does mean integrity but it is a perfect and complete integrity. If you live a life of integrity and someone starts to spread lies about you, you do not need to fear for if you are a person of integrity people will see the lies for what they are. Once the ones spreading the lies prove to not have tamam or integrity their lies will just turn against them.
Psalms 25 speaks of the Psalmist who is suffering from emotional hurt and harm caused by others attacking him with lies. The Psalmist realizes that his best defense against the lies would be the integrity and uprightness of God. Those spreading the lies would not have such integrity and when the smoke clears the Psalmist, because he had bound himself to God and took on God’s tamam integrity and uprightness, would be protected from those lies.
God is not offended by our lies, no sweat off His back. He just knows how our lies will end up hurting us which is why He does not want us to lie.