For September 2022, I’m trying to read and reflect – briefly – on a Psalm each day. I’ll read the Psalm, pray, and then ponder a few questions:
- What is this Psalm about?
- What does this Psalm teach about God?
- How does this Psalm connect to God’s people today?
I’ll close the post with a simple prayer, trying to draw the themes together.
Here’s 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.
What is this Psalm about?
This Psalm, of David, is a beautiful snapshot of the relationship between a believer and God. It is a model of what it could and should mean to live in relationship with God – and in some ways seems unattainable. Yet, if we read it closely, in amongst the claims, is the plea to God to do do it, to vindicate (v1), test/examine (v2), deliver and be merciful (v11). This Psalm, then, is an honest Psalm which balances a renewed desire to be close to God with the reality that it is God who ultimately ‘does’ it all.
What does this Psalm teach about God?
As is often the case with the Psalms, part of the background is the reality that we can speak to and with God. The fact that God hears and recieves our prayers and requests is stunning – and we shouldn’t lose sight of that, even if it isn’t the most obvious thing about this Psalm. We learn more obviously, perhaps, that God is worthy of trust (v1b), worthy of praise (v12), and ultimately dwells somewhere where we want to be. Simply put, there is an emphasis in this Psalm on the goodness of God.
How does this Psalm connect to God’s people today?
Throughout history God’s people can fall off the narrow path into legalism (trying to earn God’s grace) on the one hand and licentiousness (assuming we’ve got it) on the other. Psalm 26 is a helpful corrective – perhaps particular to those of us who are more likely to slide down the licentiousness slope. It is a helpful reminder – shot through with prayer and praise – that no matter how well we think we are doing morally and spiritually, it ultimately comes down to God’s grace. For the rest of us, it is reminder that there is shape and pattern and purpose to the life of faith – infusing everything.
A prayer from Psalm 26
Lord, help me to stay on level ground, avoiding error on either side, and keep my heart fixed on you. Show me if there is any offensive way in me, and help me to trust in you. Amen.