Tell Yourself Truth 2

To Thine Own Self…

Tell Yourself Truth 2Read with me, for a moment, the words of Psalm 15 (it’s brief!).

O Lord, who may abide in Your tent?
Who may dwell on Your holy hill?
He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness,
And speaks truth in his heart.
He does not slander with his tongue,
Nor does evil to his neighbor,
Nor takes up a reproach against his friend;
In whose eyes a reprobate is despised,
But who honors those who fear the Lord;
He swears to his own hurt and does not change;
He does not put out his money at interest,
Nor does he take a bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things will never be shaken. – Psalm 15

That fourth line caught me; while other translations render it slightly differently, the NASB and the ESV both say “speaks truth in his heart.”

Why is speaking truth “in your heart” important? Isn’t it that we are supposed to speak truth to others? But how can we speak the truth to others unless we are speaking it to ourselves?

Shakespeare’s famous expression “To thine own self be true” thus has an interesting double meaning. The more common meaning is that you should be true to who you are as a person, rather than bending your God-given personality to another – in short, be who God made you to be, rather than changing yourself for others.

But the second meaning is also very important: you must always speak truth to yourself, and refuse to believe comforting falsehoods. How can you speak the truth to others if you are afraid of the truth about yourself? In fact, this is what Shakespeare’s line actually means, which can be seen when it is taken in context:

This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.

Finally, being true to yourself in the second sense (speaking truth to oneself) may actually be necessary in order to be true to yourself in the first sense (being true to who you are as a person). If you don’t speak truth to yourself, you may never know who you really are, or be capable of being who God made you to be!

One thought on “To Thine Own Self…

  1. Adam

    This is nice. I just thought of another complementary interpretation: the following two verses are about judging others. Verse three refers to slander, which is public judging. Verse four refers to judging “in your eyes,” i.e. in your opinion. Public slander is bad, but private judging is good. “Speaks truth in his heart” could then mean that you judge others–speak truth–but privately–in your heart. I’m not sure what “He swears to his own hurt and does not change [retract?]” means.

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