People Pleasing and the Gospel

In 63 BC Pompey the Great laid siege to Jerusalem. When he finally conquered the city, he walked into the most sacred place in Israel’s history, the Holy of Holies.

Possibly, in response to the devastation and outrage of Pompey’s acts, the Psalm of Solomon was written.

In today’s YouTube video Rudy Ross explains why the Psalm of Solomon and other documents like it are not in our Bible. While they provide context for first-century Christianity, there are enough inaccuracies in them to be excluded.

Three verses from the Psalm of Solomon provide insight into the main accusation against Paul.

Psalm of Solomon 4:7-8, 19May God reveal the deeds of those who are man-pleasers. [May] his deeds [be shown] ridicule and despised.

And the saints will prove the judgment of their God to be right when sinners are driven out from the presence of the righteous; man-pleaser who talks about the Law with deception.

May the flesh of man-pleasers be scattered by wild animals, and the bones of the criminals – dishonored under the sun.

Because of Paul’s use of “please people” in verse 10, we can believe that his critics accused him of just that.

“Am I now seeking human approval or God’s approval? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still pleasing people, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Galatians 1.10).

What exactly was the issue?

Imagine the horror of having an unclean, idol-worshiping conquer defile the most sacred place of your nation’s history.

Now imagine unfaithful Jews choosing to “bend the rules” to gain favorable treatment from the enemy.

The Psalms of Solomon expressed a commitment to God that severely punished the nation’s “people-pleasers.” The same sentiment saw faithful Jews be willing to suffer great hardship to remain faithful to the One True God.

Paul taught Gentiles in Galatia that they were part of God’s family, a family formerly reserved for ethnic Jews and Gentile proselytes, simply by faith in the crucified and resurrected Messiah Jesus.

To faithful Jewish followers of Jesus, this was a prime example of “people-pleasing.” To them, Paul was shaving off objectionable aspects to curry favor with his Gentile audience.

The Jewish followers were willing to accept Gentile believers into the family provided they receive circumcision and observe the sabbath and various food laws.

They believed Paul made the gospel message too easy and possibly applied the condemnation of the Psalms of Solomon to him.

Paul’s Defense

Paul’s defense of his actions will take us from here to Galatians 2.14.

A title for Paul’s defense could read: “Not a People-Pleaser, but a Servant of the Lord.”

Paul was accused of being a “people-pleaser,” who was dumbing down the requirements to be a member of God’s family.

As a servant of the Lord, Paul could have replied, “Take it up with my Boss. I’m only following his directions.”

There was only one person Paul wanted to please, his Lord and Savior Jesus the Messiah.

Application for Today

If we lived in Jerusalem in the middle of the first century, the arguments of Paul’s Jewish Jesus followers would have seemed reasonable. They appeared to align with the history and teaching of their nation.

There are many influential voices declaring various theological and political views in the world today. How can we sift through the verbiage and arrive at an informed opinion?

(1) We can use the “people-pleaser” test. If someone’s message is designed to get votes or bodies in their church building, they may be guilty of this offense.

(2) The second test involves being a servant of the Lord.

Have we surrendered the authority of our lives to the Lord? If we have, we are in a very good place to receive his guidance.

YouTube Video

Rudy Ross and I have produced a YouTube video on this verse. It can be seen on the Bob Spradling channel.

Please email your prayer request to and the Maywood prayer team will pray for you.

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