I am the talk of those who sit in the gate and, the drunkards make songs about me. (Psalm 69:12)
With great zeal and with perfect devotion, Jesus tore through the sinfulness that permeated the temple. He made a whip with cords and chased away the greedy men who turned the place of worship into a market. 'He overturned tables, poured out their money and drove out their livestock. With authority he said, "Take these things away; do not make my Father's house a house of trade." The disciples remembered that it was written, "Zeal for your house will consume me."' (Psalm 69:9)
True zeal for the things of God will cause one to prayerfully seek after the truth and weed out sin. Jesus knew that those who were in charge of the Temple needed to be confronted because they had let a den of thieves inside. Thieves are not to be trusted. They seek their own. They have no regard for others. When a thief is in the church he is an impostor. When a church has become unguarded, the wolves will come after the sheep.
Jesus challenged the religious leaders. The ones who did good works, and who built good reputations for themselves by injecting the name of God every chance they could. He saw the sin in their hearts which did not match their outward devotion to God.
Pointing out sin in someone who insists they are a good person rarely goes well. They might tell you that "Only God can judge," and if they lack repentance that leads to faith they will despise the person who pricks their conscience. The person who loves God enough to tell people the truth will become a target. King David could have turned on Nathan when he pointed out his sexual sin to him, but instead David humbled himself and repented. God will judge sin. He tells those who believe in Him to love people enough to warn them of their sin so they can repent and be saved.
There is a popular song that seems to speak of God, yet it really does so in a way that reminds me of the money changers in the temple. The song is called, "Hallelujah." The lyrics seem to be worshipful to God until you listen closely and realize the writer is glorifying disbelief in God, rebellion and sin. The song is about the sexual sin David committed with Bathsheba; the same sin that Nathan called him out for; the same sin that he repented of and the same sin that caused him to say, "I am the talk of those who sit at the gate and the drunkards make songs about me."
Jesus became the talk of those who sit at the gate, too. People think, "Jesus is not angry with me. I am a good person. My Jesus knows my heart," and they write songs about this gentle Jesus. People forget that Jesus is the God of the Old Testament. Jesus will come again someday to judge the living and the dead based on the commandments God gave us. For those who repent of their sins and believe in Jesus, their sins have already been taken care of through His death on the cross, but for those who held tight to their sin and rebelled against God's laws, He will judge them with perfect justice.
That is why when I hear songs like Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" (remade by Jeff Buckley, also sung by Christian musicians,) I get some righteous anger building up. We sing along to the tune of this song like drunkards who are so wasted that we don't even know what we are singing. Let us instead take a good sober look at sin and what it cost Jesus and what it will cost us if we don't turn from it.