3 Send out your light and your truth;
let them lead me;
let them bring me to your holy hill
and to your dwelling!
4 Then I will go to the altar of God,
to God my exceeding joy,
and I will praise you with the lyre,
O God, my God.
“That may be true for you but it is not true for me”. That phrase may be causing more confusion and damage in the world than any other soundbite you will hear. It is rooted in the idea that all truth is relative, meaning that in different situations or for different people, truth is like beauty, it is in the eye of the beholder. We end up with situations in which people are perfectly willing to accept two fundamentally contradictory statements as both being equally true and valid. We do this in defiance of all rules of logic. In practice it means I can say that for me the sky is green and no insistence on your part, no use of scientific instruments to measure the color spectrum and define the sky as blue and not green will make any difference. The actual reality of the sky being blue and not green is irrelevant. Why? Because for me it is green, that is my truth.
What we have done is confuse the differences between truth, opinions, values, and personal experience. Just because I experience something in a certain way does not make it objectively true. I used the color of the sky intentionally. I suffer from what is usually called being color blind. People immediately think that I only see in black and white. A better phrase would be color deficient. Absolute color-blindness is extremely rare. Rather it is a matter of degrees. I see lots of colors but the receptors in my eyes to pick up color are less robust than those in most people. As a result I have trouble picking up shades of red and green. That means light pink, which has very little red in it, can looked washed out and gray to me. Certain shades of green look more brown. When I was a kid having the names of colors on the crayons was a must. But here is the point, the fact that it is brown to me and not green does not change the objective truth of the color. It is brown. Everyone who does not have color deficiency issues will see green and objective scientific equipment will say it is green. What I need to do is adjust my understanding. I can say, I see it as brown but I must acknowledge that my experience is deceiving me and keeping me from the truth.
The push to say all truth is relative is a push to make my experience what determines truth. That is both arrogant and lazy. Arrogant because it sets me up as the pinnacle of all truth. Lazy because it excuses me from ever having to do the hard work of thinking, debating, researching, and even changing my mind. What the Psalmist is saying in these verses today is that it is God’s truth that really matters. What determines the reality of things is not what is true for you or true for me but what God has determined to be true. I may experience something, but my experience is extremely limited. My experience will help shape my opinions and ideas but that is not the same as something being objectively true.
I suspect that one of the reasons we are drawn to the idea of relative truth is that in the short-term it is a comfort to us. It is a comfort because it requires so little of us and we are lulled into thinking that all is right with the world and we understand it. It is far more comfortable for me to ignore the reality of the color shirt I am wearing and that it clashes badly with my pants. It is harder to work through the truth of the issue and either ask my wife for advice on clothing or to remember what shirt to not wear with what pants, We think that by ignoring the hard work of finding truth and just living in the world of all things being relative that we will be much happier and at peace, that we will have joy and freedom and not be bound by someone else’s ideas of truth. But this Psalm points out that true joy and freedom are only to be found in God’s truth. That truth is Jesus Himself who made the shocking statement, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me”. I must cling to Jesus as the truth and the light. Only in Jesus am I truly free. Only in Jesus am I equipped to face the world and find joy.