"O men, how long shall my honor be turned into shame? How long will you love vain words and seek after lies? But know that the Lord has set apart the godly for himself; the Lord hears when I call to him"
It is a warning and an affirmation of truth. It is a question of perspective and a call to awakening.
How long will my honor be turned into shame? It is hard to continue to do something when people don't value it. It is even harder when they directly oppose it or devalue it's significance. That is what is going on here. A person's honor or their character is the essence of who they are. When it is not valued, despised or diminished, it is held in shame. I know that a lot of times we as Christians/believers play the martyr card here and talk about being oppressed. Mainly that is usually because of our Christian bubble is being threatened. There is a difference between something being shamed and something not being respected. I think that honestly we put out second rate work or incomplete work and say we are oppressed because it is not respected or does not sell. That is not what this verse is talking about at all. This isn't about someone not liking your Thomas Kinkade painting. This is about someone going against the essence of who you are as a believer. This is about looking at what God calls us to, and then doing the opposite. It is promoting the things not of God (see Romans 1) and instead promoting things of self. It is trading the truth of God for a lie, for things that are empty.
How long will you love vain words and seek after lies? Diet pills don't work, if they did, think about it....there wouldn't be overweight people? If there was a true diet pill then society would change drastically. Yet, people buy them and they are a million dollar business. Why? because people are suckers for empty promises. We hope for a lot of things, especially things that promise to better us with out much cost. But the reality is, you can't escape hard work. There is no easy way, there is just denial of reality. I am not meaning to sound like a pessimist, but a realist. We love comfort, we love things that are easy, so we are suckers for things that promise to satisfy and cheat the system. This is a verse that challenges us to wake up. STOP! Stop chasing after lies and realize that God is the only truth and thing that satisfies. There no life apart from Him.
In juxtaposition to this is the promise that God does value the godly man, so much so that He sets him apart for Himself. In most cases in scripture this phrasing is usually plural, talking about Godly people. Here it is singular which shows that there is an emphasis on each individual. So God does not just lump us together, but He has set each of us apart for Himself. You have a purpose and you have a connected relationship with the Father and Creator of all.
The Lord hears when I call to Him. I love that this is a statement of certainty. Not one of condition. He does not say the Lord hears my prayer because I have done (insert good work here). But instead it is because of a relationship. It is showing that the Lord has set us apart and we are connected to Him. This is certain and is true regardless of the shame or opposition from the world.
I think it is interesting that this verse is a warning, the desire is that people would wake up, not just follow lies. I am continually amazed by God's pursuit of us, even when we love what is worthless and exchange the truth of God for a lie. His grace is there, He loves us, disciplines us and restores us, in short, He redeems us. And Redemption is a beautiful thing.