Briefing: When we talk about law in our country, we understand that peace officers are part of a much larger organization called the criminal justice system. We are the branch of the system that keeps the peace, guards civilization, and enforces the law.
Dispatch (Assignment): Read Psalm 111.
On the Street: There are precepts in my house. Things like, if you have trash, you will put it in the trash can. If you dirty a dish, you will put it in the sink. If you make a mess, you will clean it up. Precept is defined as a commandment or direction meant as a rule of action or conduct. The Bible contains many precepts but most of them are called commandments.
Why are precepts important? If we did not have rules, people would be allowed to act any way that pleased them. Unfortunately, human nature, left on its own without rules is selfish and leads to chaos and lawlessness. Humanity without rules would be like the animal kingdom, survival of the fittest.
Civilizations survive and thrive because of the rules, or government, they put in place to direct the conduct of the people that live in them. The thin blue line is the line between chaos and civility. Take away that line and chaos would quickly take over. Chaos and brutality will quickly ruin a civilization. When wolves attack the flock they scatter. Without sheepdogs and shepherds, there is no flock.
This psalm does not dwell on precepts but it mentions them twice. We will see them in verse 7 and 10. Although the word precept is only mentioned twice, the concept of rules is laced throughout this psalm. We see it in verse 2 when it mentions God’s “works”, verse 5 uses “covenant”, again in verses 6 and 7 “works”, and verse 9 “He ordained His covenant”.
I list “works” as a reference to precepts because of the way The New American Standard Bible translates the verse. “The works of His hands are truth and justice; all His precepts are trustworthy.”
Looking at the psalm in this way, you get a better sense of the importance of precepts. In verse 7, now from the NIV, “The works of His hands are faithful and just; all His precepts are trustworthy.” God can be trusted. He made rules, commandments, and precepts for our good. These things are in place to protect us. As law enforcement officers, we should know this better than anyone, right? If we do then why are divorce rates so high? Why is there so much suicide in law enforcement? Why are alcohol and drug abuse higher in our profession than others? We are a people who desperately need the redemption of Christ.
In verse 1 it says, “Praise the LORD, I will extol the LORD with all my heart in the council of the upright and in the assembly.” What is the company you keep? There are two factors that will influence who you will become, the things you read and the people you associate with. In other words, reading your Bible and getting involved in a church are the two most influential forces, on this earth, that can affect change in your life.
If you want to be a force for positive change in this line of work you must start with yourself. It’s the officer safety principle. You can’t help others if you don’t first take care of yourself.
Verse 10 says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow His precepts have good understanding. To Him belongs eternal praise.” This verse backs up and reinforces the rest of the psalm. His precepts have good understanding because He is the Creator of humans and civilization. He knows how we act, respond, think and most importantly He knows what this world would be like without precepts. I believe this is part of why He loves our profession and the job we do. This is great but we can’t just camp out on this thought and forget about the non-believing population of peace officers.
Part of our calling is to share Christ with the lost and dying in our profession. There is an officer assist we need to respond to. It is the officer who is headed for hell.
Investigational Resources: Isaiah 62, the watchman on the wall.
Officer Safety Principle: How many of you would ignore an officer assist call? I am guessing none of you would. If this is the case then why would we not share life with those who are dying?
from Psalms Through the Eyes of a Cop, Volume 2
©by Charles Gilliland. Used by permission.
Click here to check out the entire Through the Eyes of a Cop series!