First Off…read Psalm 26!
Wow – I’m stuck on that first half verse. Vindicate me…vindicate me? Really? But as I stare at those two words I’m not sure exactly what it is I’m stuck on. Do I have the gall to demand that God vindicate me? Do I feel I’m worth being vindicated? Have I led a blameless life? Have I trusted in the Lord without wavering? Do I really want to be tested and examined in my heart and my mind?
Our understanding of “vindicate” means to be cleared of suspicion. We often see this when someone was convicted of a crime they never committed and years later they were “vindicated” as new evidence came out and the sentence was over-turned. They’ve been “vindicated” or “cleared” of any wrong doing…but in Hebrew this word has its roots in “judgment”. So really we should be reading this as “judge me, O Lord” – and that makes sense as the rest of the psalm has David giving UP his defense.
- Vs 3b: I walk continually in your truth and not lies
- Vs 4: I do not sit with deceitful people or consort with hypocrites
- Vs 5: I abhor (hate) groups of evildoers and will not associate with them
- Vs 11: I lead a blameless life
- Vs 6: I come to your alter clean and cleansed
- Vs 7: I proclaim your name aloud and praise you – sharing this with others
- Vs 8: I love your Temple, our dwelling and look fondly to it
Does David really think he is perfect? Does David really think he is blameless, walking continuously in God’s truth and never straying to the left or the right? He may not sit or consort with hypocrites but I’m pretty sure making that statement means that he is, in fact, a hypocrite. Right? His life definitely isn’t “blameless” – is it?
What about the adulterously looking at (and coveting) a naked Bathsheba? (2 Sam 11:2)
What about committing adultery? (2 Sam 11:4)
What about the fact that since he was the King and she was not – one can easily make the case that this was, in fact, rape? (2 Sam 11:4-5)
What about the planned death of Uriah the Hittite (her husband)? (2 Sam 11:14-15)
What about the fact that David’s own son, Amnon, raped his sister Tamar – and outside of being “furious” David didn’t do anything about it? (2 Sam 13:20-22)
The fact of the matter is that for every “good” thing we see from David, for every “good deed” he professes, for everything he thinks he does that is good and righteous… there are just as many “bad” things in his life. But are we to look critically at what David has done? Is that the point of this psalm? To pile up all his sins on one side of the scale and then pile up all his “good deeds” on the other and make sure that not only do they NOT balance out but his good-deeds are so vast and heavy that the whole thing topples down? No. We must remember in scripture that we have to “understand” the voice being spoken (in this case it’s David) and the greater work being done (always BY God).
One author writes (H.D.M. Spence) that the understanding for David is different than ours in that they simply didn’t understand, like we do today, what it means to have human imperfection. That is, in a way, there was an understanding of sins…but unless it’s a blatant sin that gets called out and seen in that way – it simply was never understood in that way. So David sees deceitful men and women, hypocrites running around, wicked & evil people joining together…and he looks in the mirror and says, “That’s not me…so I must be ‘good’…and not even good but BLAMELESS.”
But what is REALLY interesting about this psalm is that while he proclaims this “goodness” and seeks God to judge him for what he feels the good he has done – he also asks that God have mercy on him. In verses 9 and 11 there is this request, petition, for God to have mercy upon him. Why? I think it’s because no matter what God DOES find, and he knows God will, he still asks that God look past them.
This text encourages us to reflect upon the fact that even though David isn’t as “good” as he thinks he is…he seeks out goodness. He sees those who ignore the truth, who are deceitful, who are hypocrites, who are evil and wicked (those who do not go by what God desires) – and he wants nothing to do with it. Instead, he grounds himself in truth, righteousness, and mercy – all which come to us and stand before us from God. It’s the “ways of the world” vs “God’s ways”.
In this psalm we get a man who simply wants to do, and be, in the right…and he knows that it is only found in God. As Christians we proclaim that we can do no good without God’s guiding hand, without the Holy Spirit working the good in us. Does this mean that we are perfect since we are believers? Nope. Does it mean we are at least somewhat perfect…maybe even a smidge or a skosh? Not at all. But what it does mean is that the Spirit is daily sanctifying us and making us closer and closer into his image….INTO that perfection.
Judgment for our sins will take place – and the truth is that we’ve been found “guilty” of sins against ourselves, each other, and more importantly, God. But through Christ we have been redeemed of our sins (Titus 2:14) and made blameless (Eph 1:4)…even if it won’t come to fruition until we stand before him. And there’s nothing scary about that.