Meditations in David’s Psalms : 31 : Vindication Again – Psa 26
Psa 26:1 Vindicate me, Lord, for I have led a blameless life;
Back in psalm 17, as we have seen previously, David prayed, “May my vindication come from you.” (Psa 17:2) and quite often in these psalms of David there is this element if either trying to be right before God or of the Lord showing him to be right before his enemies. He starts out with an interesting statement, especially in the light of earlier psalms where he is particularly aware of his failures. We must assume therefore that this psalm was written early on in his life: “ Vindicate me, Lord, for I have led a blameless life; I have trusted in the Lord and have not faltered.” (v.1) Now this is interesting for it focuses on his attitude towards God rather than on his behaviour. In respect of his attitude towards God he is sure of himself: he has trusted in the Lord and held firm to that trust.
In fact he is willing to be checked out in this respect: “Test me, Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness.” (v.2,3) He is willing to come under full scrutiny – heart (will & emotions) and mind (intellect) – because he has always been conscious of God’s love and always sought to rely on the Lord’s constancy, His reliability, the fact that His love will never change. This is all about attitude and relationship and in that, he maintains he has been constant.
He moves on in his self-vindicating process to consider his behaviour, the outworking of his attitude. He starts, “ I do not sit with the deceitful, nor do I associate with hypocrites.” (v.4) He knows that deception and hypocrisy are wrong and so he has shied away from such people, yet one wonders if, at this stage of his life, he yet doesn’t really know himself. How many of us can declare that we are completely free of hypocrisy? But perhaps he means those who constantly live in delusion, refusing to face the Lord and the truth. When he speaks of evildoers and the wicked, he does not mean people who occasionally do evil or who are occasionally wicked, but those who have settled in that way of life: “I abhor the assembly of evildoers and refuse to sit with the wicked.” (v.5)
From the rejection of the godless people of the world, his mind takes him to times when he goes to worship, presumably in the Tabernacle (for the Temple was not yet built). There is the laver where hands were ceremonially washed but for him it was merely a procedure to be followed for he has sought to keep himself clean morally at all times and therefore he was free to worship and praise the Lord without any sense of guilt inhibiting him: “I wash my hands in innocence, and go about your altar, Lord, proclaiming aloud your praise and telling of all your wonderful deeds.” (v.6,7) Thus he is able to enjoy the experience of entering the Tabernacle to worship the Lord fearlessly: “Lord, I love the house where you live, the place where your glory dwells.” (v.8) For many, thoughts of being near to God bring a sense of fear and trepidation and they are reminded of guilt and shame, but that is not David’s experience at this time of his life (although it might have been later) and it should not be the experience of the children of God, us. May we be able to have clear consciences as David had.
For him, he knew that he did not deserve the judgement that falls on sinners, and on those who care little of respect for life or those who plan wickedness and care little for truth and justice: “Do not take away my soul along with sinners, my life with those who are bloodthirsty, in whose hands are wicked schemes, whose right hands are full of bribes.” (v.9,10) There is perhaps almost a naïve honesty about David at this time of his life for he is able to declare and request, “I lead a blameless life; deliver me and be merciful to me,” (v.11) and then to declare, “My feet stand on level ground; in the great congregation I will praise the Lord.” (v.12) There is a confidence in him that he is secure in the Lord (standing on level ground) and because of this he is sure his future is assured and that he will stand with the saints in the great congregation in heaven. Perhaps in the letters to the seven churches in the book of Revelation, when Jesus rebukes one church for having lost its first love, he is referring to such a simple and almost naïve time such as this witnessed here in David’s life at this time. Perhaps, rather than being sceptical about the quality of his life at this time, a quality that enables him to write in the way he does, we should instead yearn for the same quality for ourselves.