Weds 27 July - Psalm 26
1 Vindicate me, Lord,
for I have led a blameless life;
I have trusted in the Lord
and have not faltered.
2 Test me, Lord, and try me,
examine my heart and my mind;
3 for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love
and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness.
4 I do not sit with the deceitful,
nor do I associate with hypocrites.
5 I abhor the assembly of evildoers
and refuse to sit with the wicked.
6 I wash my hands in innocence,
and go about your altar, Lord,
7 proclaiming aloud your praise
and telling of all your wonderful deeds.
8 Lord, I love the house where you live,
the place where your glory dwells.
9 Do not take away my soul along with sinners,
my life with those who are bloodthirsty,
10 in whose hands are wicked schemes,
whose right hands are full of bribes.
11 I lead a blameless life;
deliver me and be merciful to me.
12 My feet stand on level ground;
in the great congregation I will praise the Lord.
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Meditation on Psalm 26
At some time in our lives, each of us has faced an interview of one kind or another. Perhaps we have put our curriculum vitae (CV) together and sent it with our application form, whether online or a paper copy.
If you remember that far back, the idea was to ‘sell yourself’ to your prospective new employer which would mean that you have to use ‘I’; ‘me’; ‘my’ rather a lot.
We didn’t watch the ‘live debate’ about choosing our next Prime Minister. We watched snippets on the News programme and were very glad we gave the hour-long programme a miss.
Hopefully none of us have got to the point which Mohammed Ali got to when he declared “I am the greatest!”
When we come to Psalm 26, we could be forgiven for thinking, at a first read, that David has nearly fallen into that category when he says, “I have led a blameless life” and “I lead a blameless life”.
This is not the only psalm where he says that.
I smiled when I read Michael Wilcock’s commentary. He writes, ‘When we are faced yet again with David’s extraordinary eagerness to say how blameless he is, we may think that, like the Player Queen in Hamlet, he ‘doth protest too much’. But it is when we look at Psalm 26 in isolation, indeed at selective verses from it, that David seems a self-righteous prig.’
Verses 4-7 tell us in no uncertain terms as to where David would put himself when compared with the ‘deceitful … the hypocrites … the evildoers … the wicked … the sinners.’
It reminds us of the two men who went up to the temple to pray and the righteous one (so he thought of himself), prayed, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people – robbers, evildoers, adulterers – or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ People in the temple at the time could be forgiven for bursting out in a rendition of ‘for he’s a jolly good fellow.’
In contrast, the tax collector prayed, ‘God be merciful to me a sinner.’
Let’s look at Psalm 26 in the light of other psalms in the first book of psalms.
For example, in Psalm 25:21 David says ‘may integrity and uprightness protect me.’
It is accepted by scholars that being blameless is nothing to do with ‘sinless perfection’. It is, as one commentator explained it, ‘the quality of being honest and fair; the state of being complete or whole; adherence to a code of moral or artistic values; not corruptible.’
Another writes, ‘”Blameless" people are those who cannot be accused of wrongdoing before people or God ( Psalm 15:2 ; 18:23 ). David prays, "Keep your servant also from wilful sin Then will I be blameless" ( Psalm 19:13 ). David is seeking blamelessness not in a physical but in a moral sense.’
As David starts his prayer in Psalm 26, he asks God, “Vindicate me, LORD…” It is as if he is facing his accusers. He is facing those who want to see him fall morally and spiritually. He doesn’t appeal to them. He appeals to God in whom he trusts.
In a number of psalms David also shows that he is blameless in the charges his enemies make against him.
David’s integrity is being tested and he asks the LORD to defend him.
His confidence is in the LORD who hasn’t let him down thus far and is not about to start.
He is quite willing to be tested by the LORD (verse 2b).
Psalm 139:23-24 records David’s prayer which is still used today. ‘Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.’
So, too, do we constantly pray, knowing that we can trust God.
The basis of David’s confidence and ours is summarised in verses 3, 8 and 12:
- ‘I have always been mindful of your unfailing love’ – loved with everlasting love
- ‘I have lived in reliance on your faithfulness’ – faithful One, so unchanging
- ‘I love the house where you live, the place where your glory dwells’ – I love the fellowship of God’s people as I come to church
- ‘I stand on level ground’ – there is security in the Lord and He is with me on my journey
The challenge for David and for us is to stay away from those temptations which constantly hit us. We have to be resolute in our responses to those who would love to see us fall.
Verses 4-5 remind us of how the psalmist opens the book of psalms. Read Psalm 1 and see the contrasts between ‘those whose delight is in the law of the LORD … not so the wicked…’
- ‘I do not sit…’
- ‘I do not associate…’
- ‘I abhor…’
- ‘I refuse to sit…’
And yet, these are the people who need the Lord; who need to hear about Jesus. Lord, help us to know how best to reach them.
Verses 6-7 remind us of our need of…’
- cleansing – Psalm 24:3-4a: ‘Who may ascend the mountain of the LORD? Who may stand in His holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart.’
- witness and testimony – ‘proclaiming aloud your praise and telling of your wonderful deeds.’
Verses 9-11 remind us of our need of
When all is said and done, we remind ourselves of the vital importance of Christian fellowship, of being with the people of God in the House of God where, as the psalmist says, ‘in the great congregation I will praise the LORD.’
God help us to trust Him and live in the joy of His unfailing love.