Psalm 26 - by Richard Neufeld
We see in this Psalm David crying out to the Lord to vindicate him as he makes a case for his own righteousness. He declares that he has trusted in the Lord without wavering and asks Him to try his mind and heart. David goes on to declare his faithfulness to God through his many actions, such as abstaining from consorting with the wicked, with hypocrites, or with men of falsehood. David goes on to point out that “I wash my hands in innocence and go around your altar, O Lord,” loving the house of the Lord and His glory. He draws this Psalm to a close first my imploring God to not lump his soul in with sinners who hate God, second by stating his confidence that he will go on to bless the Lord, rooted firmly in God’s grace.
As usual, David cycles through all sorts of emotions and pleas in his usual concise, no-nonsense way. Though David is fully aware of his own sin, he does his best to keep the commands of God through faith, growing in love of his Lord. God, he knows, is the only one upon whom he can rely, and his cry for God to vindicate him tells the reader that David is only concerned with what God thinks rather than the masses that are most likely chasing after him at the time of this Psalm’s composition. Bad company corrupts good morals. What confidence it must take to rightly dismiss the cries of the masses and focus only on God!
It is this confidence by which David asks, “prove me, O Lord, and try me; test my heart and my mind. For your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in your faithfulness.” David is keen to remember that walking with God isn’t the mere avoidance of evil but the wallowing in His goodness and unchanging grace! It is this to which he encourages us all aspire; to kill sin not only because it is our good and proper duty, but because “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God,” (Matt. 6:8).
Application and question:
What can we take from this simple Psalm of David? First, let us go into our rooms and close the door like Christ commanded (Luke 11) and cry out to God away from the distractions, understanding that He knows what you need before you ask it. Let’s stop trying to get something from God and just pray to the end that we might get God Himself! Praise God first and foremost, with music and thanksgiving and a gratitude journal. Establish Him first in your heart each day and let your ears testify to the words of your mouth. Ask Him to vindicate you, and care only for His words and thoughts towards you. Humble yourself and be vulnerable in what you’re feeling in the moment; don’t censor yourself before God – nobody wins here and He knows it all already!
Ask Him to try your heart and mind and do not shrink back from conviction or correction; wrestle with Him in how He is asking you to be obedient. Ask Him to cut out the obstacles that keep His steadfast love from before your eyes, that keep your feet from the narrow path. Commit yourself anew to the good fight of righteousness and plead before your Father who is in heaven to help you just with what you have before you today. He gives grace more abundantly than we could imagine and it is fresh each day! Ask yourself this: why do you obey the Lord? If it is only because He said you must (which is all well and good, but not the entire picture) and there is no sense of love or affection for your relationship with Him, you have an idol problem.
Sin is far easier to overcome when, instead of merely suppressing certain sinful affections, we overwhelm them with good, pure, holy affections. Ask the Lord to sweep away your sin; if you have tried this a bunch already and haven’t found much progress, tell Him that! Be frustrated and at a loss. Turn your joy into weeping and pour out your heart to Him who has loved you from before the world began. Ask for a heart of flesh that resonates to the voice of the Son of God who has called you to your knees right now. Write this all down if it helps. There isn’t an inch of our hearts or minds that we can afford to have kept back from the light of Christ.
It is this awareness of sinful brokenness and the realization of our utter failure to clean ourselves up on our own into which Christ steps and grabs us, saying "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me (2 Cor. 12:9).
David knew he had no good apart from God, that God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. That is how David could say, in the midst of it all, “But as for me, I shall walk in my integrity; redeem me, and be gracious to me. My foot stands on level ground; in the great assembly I will bless the Lord.”
Lord, we thank you for being near those who are broken-hearted, who are meek, humble, weary, heavy-burdened, and lost. Thank you for reaching out to those who are in need, dying for those who were and are your enemies even now. Give us grace to be gracious to others, and fill us with your Holy Spirit so that all may see our good works and give glory to our Father in heaven. Amen.
Song: Feeling Low - Will Reagan
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In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.