The reason why this psalm is such a clear prophecy of Jesus' resurrection is the startling claim found in the second half of verse 10. The first part is impressive but not startling. It is an expression of faith that God will not abandon the psalmist to the grave. That could have been spoken by anyone of the Old Testament saints. It represents a high expression of faith, of course. The only thing that quite matches it is Job's declaration: "I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I and not another" (19:25-27). So although David's statement is strong and unusual, it is not an impossible statement for any of the Old Testament saints to have uttered, as I said. Any one of them could have spoken of God preserving them beyond the grave.

On the first Lord's day, following hard upon the resurrection of Jesus Christ, two people were walking to their home town of Emmaus from Jerusalem. They were disciples of Jesus, and the name of one of them was Cleopas (Luke 24:18). They were despondent because of the death of their Master. They had heard reports of an empty tomb and of angels who had told some of the women that Jesus was "risen, as he said." But they did not doubt that Jesus was really dead and that their dream of a Messiah who should reign upon the throne of his father David, the dream that had inspired them for the three long years of Christ's ministry, was over. While they were making their way along their homeward path Jesus appeared to them, although they did not recognize him. "What are you discussing together as you walk along?" he asked.

His integrity. The fifth couplet contains an incomplete parallelism in which two additional parts need to be supplied mentally. As it stands, the couplet is the simple phrase "who keeps his oath even when it hurts." In full form it would read something like: who keeps his oath at all times, and is faithful even when it hurts.

The effect of the omissions is to shorten the phrase and highlight part of it, in this case the words "even when it hurts." That is the important thing. No one has much trouble keeping his or her word when to do so is to the person's own advantage. You would have to be unbalanced not to. But how about when the conditions have changed and the promise, agreement or contract is no longer to your advantage? Do you honor your promise then? Do you fulfill the contract? Or do you try to find some way to get out of what you had committed yourself to? The psalmist says that God approves people who keep their oaths even when it hurts them to do so.

His conduct. The third couplet is almost also a parallel to the second, for there is much in common between speaking the truth and not slandering another in couplet two, and doing a neighbor no wrong and casting no slur on him in couplet three. But there is a difference too, and the difference seems to be that in this parallelism the idea moves beyond mere words to actions. This is clear in the first half: "Who does his neighbor no wrong." It is probably also what is meant in part two, for although casting a slur usually suggests verbal abuse to us, a slur can also be cast—perhaps more often is cast—by how we actually treat another person.

His character. The first couplet containing an answer to David's question seems at first glance to be a contrasting parallel. The first line is expressed negatively: "He whose walk is blameless," that is, "without blame." The second line is expressed positively: he "does what is righteous." Actually, the two halves are as close as they can get, for the word translated "blameless" in our text is the Hebrew word tamim, which is not negative at all but means rather that which is "whole" or "sound." It refers to a person whose character, as we might say, is morally well-rounded and grounded. This person is not just strong in one area but weak in others. He strives to keep all the commandments. What is more, he does not vacillate in his commitment to them. There are no obvious flaws or "off and on" times in this person's character. The person is the same Monday through Saturday as on Sunday morning.