"No Base Thing"
I will not set before my eyes anything that is base.
Last month, this sentence from Psalm 101 was flashed before our eyes on a huge screen at the Jubilee Auditorium here in Calgary. With a few other members of our church, I was attending a presentation by Mr. Robert De Moss Jr., who goes by the label "Youth culture specialist." He works for the Focus on the Family organization which was started quite a few years ago by Dr. Jim Dobson.
Mr. De Moss gave a very enlightening presentation about what is going on in the world of film, advertising and music, especially as this relates to young people. To be honest with you, it was a presentation that stunned and horrified most of the 3000 members of the audience. He acquainted us with the perverted lyrics and disturbing style of rock groups like "Guns and Roses"; he showed us some scenes from several recent horror shows – for example, the "Freddy" films. And he demonstrated that modern advertising aimed at young people (in youth magazines) would have been unacceptable even for a pornographic magazine in 1960.
No doubt it would be beneficial to go into the details of Mr. De Moss's presentation about rock, film and advertising. Any person who views such a presentation cannot quietly go home and continue to indulgence himself in mainstream youth culture. Or, I should say, anyone in whom the Spirit dwells cannot go home and still immerse himself in popular youth culture. The reality of the antithesis between Christ and the "world" becomes very clear in such a presentation.
But it was interesting that Mr. De Moss drew our attention to the above-mentioned verse not in the context of the theater or advertising in magazines and so on, but rather, in the context of television. Most of us will readily admit that a Christian should have nothing to do with the extremes of rock and roll, nor with the blatant transgressions of the theater. But we are not so quick to see the same danger in the television, together with its accompanying video player.
Lately, the pages of Clarion have given quite a bit of critical attention to television viewing habits. Allow me to continue that discussion. First, a quotation from De Moss:
I once heard that 98 per cent of American households have at least one television set. Compared to the fact that only 96 per cent of homes have a working toilet, I think it's safe to say that for the first time in history, there's more garbage coming into our homes than going out of them.
In order to minimize the negative effect of television in Christian homes, De Moss gave a number of ideas. A few of them are:
Limit TV to one hour per day.
Never allow a TV set in a bedroom.
Analyze commercials carefully to see what message they are trying to bring.
Watch TV as a family!
Purge your cable channels (did you know that 35 million American households have MTV? You can ask your local cable company to have MTV dropped).
Talk back to your idiot box when it communicates something inconsistent with biblical principles. "Is shouting at the TV during a commercial – "Forget it pal, I'm happy with what I have" – such a bad idea?"
Well, Mr. De Moss is a funny person. But let's take a look at another piece of advice he gives us. He suggests that we tape Psalm 101:3 to our remote control devices or else make a poster of this verse and hang it above our television sets. The poet of this Psalm says:
I will not set before my eyes anything that is base.
Well, let's have a look at this Psalm.
A Throne Speech
According to the words above this Psalm, David was its author. And if we read the Psalm as a whole, we get the impression that it is a kind of "Throne Speech" in which David, like the new governments of BC and Saskatchewan, lays out the basic principles of his government. First of all, as a ruler, David knows the importance of personal integrity. One who is himself wicked and hypocritical cannot be a good ruler. So David insists on his personal integrity. He says that in his government, he will not be guided by personal interest. He will not, like so many rulers, present a public face completely different than his private face. David will be consistent in all of life.
He will also be diligent in his kingly task of punishing evildoers. People who live in uprightness have nothing to fear from David's government, but the wicked had better be careful. Deceitful people, liars, false witnesses, slanderers, etc. will not be able to continue their pernicious work. For "morning by morning," says David, "I will destroy all the wicked in the land, cutting off all the evildoers from the city of the LORD" (v. 8).
It is in the context of this "Throne Speech" that David also speaks the words of verse 3: "I will not set before my eyes anything that is base." The word "base" means "lawless" and therefore "disgusting." In the original Hebrew language, the word translated by "base" is "Belial." David will not set anything of Belial before his eyes. In the O.T., the word Belial is used to describe homosexuals, rebels against the rule of God's anointed King, drunkards, false witnesses, and people who promote idolatry.
David is saying that he, as king, will have nothing to do with such practices. How could he? For what does light have in common with darkness? And "what accord has Christ with Belial?" Yes, that last quotation from 2 Corinthians 6:15 shows us that the word "belial" was eventually used by the Jews as a proper name for Satan. The ultimate in baseness is the devil, for he is a complete rebel and is therefore completely disgusting.
In Psalm 101, David is proclaiming the eternal opposition between God and Satan, between right and wrong, between purity and baseness. He wants to build his reign on the basis of that enmity. He will promote good. He will put down evil.
Sharing Christ's Reign
It must be said that King David did not fully carry out the inspired contents of his own "throne speech." For his heart was not perfect. He was not 100% successful in keeping base things from before his eyes. Think only of the matter of Bathsheba and Uriah the Hittite. We need to realize that King David was only a shadow of the One who was to come, his own Great Son, Jesus Christ.
The Lord Jesus also has a kingly program for His government. Psalm 101 is His "throne speech," too. The Lord Jesus, however, was entirely successful in keeping all base things from before His eyes. Never did He yield to temptation as it came to Him from "Belial," that base and disgusting rebel against God.
And the Lord Jesus Christ has now ascended into heaven, there to sit at God's right hand until His enemies are made a stool for His feet. He will remove the wicked from the land. Only the meek, that is the righteous, will inherit the earth. Belial and all who like him are "base" will be cast into hell.
What does all this have to do with television and videos? Well, do you remember your Catechism, Lord's Day 12? You are called Christians. Why do you have that name? Because you share the anointing of Christ (remember: "Christ" means "Anointed One"). You share in His office of prophet, priest and king.
Yes, you share also in Christ's kingly office. Indeed, the apostle Paul says that by faith, we are already seated with Christ in the heavenly places! (Ephesians 2:6).
Christ is Lord of lords and King of kings. We share in that kingly office. For we are one with Him by faith.
Well, this means that we have to work with Christ to fulfill the "throne speech" of Psalm 101. We are part of His government. We fight against Belial in this life. We strive to put down the wicked (no, not by the sword, but by the truth). And hereafter, we will reign with Christ over all creatures.
Indeed, put Psalm 101:3 on your remote control device. Hang it in large print over your television set. "I will not set before my eyes anything that is base." Remember, base means "lawless." Well, does television not thrive in direct proportion to its lawlessness? The more of God's holy commandments it flaunts, and the more frequently it does so, the greater will be the number of viewers.
You have to understand that what you "set before your eyes" has impact on your heart. The constant influx of lawless images and words will transform your heart so that more and more you will look like Belial instead of like God. In one way or another, you will yourselves come to think and do the things you constantly set before your eyes as so called "entertainment."
Go ahead, write this kingly text on your remote control device. Mr. De Moss gave even better advice than he probably realized. Hang it in large print over your television set. Above all, write it on your hearts.
What will happen if you do this? You will find that more and more the TV set is silent. The kingly rule of Jesus Christ will stifle its lawless noise and obliterate its disgraceful images. And, since the silly thing is now turned off nearly all the time, why not get rid of it? Such an act would be truly royal.