Vindicate me, Lord. (Psalm 26:1)
Anyone who has ever been in a position of spiritual leadership has most probably had the experience that David describes here in Psalm 26. Of feeling the need, when accused falsely, to be vindicated. Sometimes the accusation is simply due to misunderstanding or miscommunication. Other times it is due to gossip or broken relationships, or maybe jealousy resulting in slanderous talk. Whatever the reason it is a tough time for the one accused.
So, how does David handle false accusations? Well, the most important action he takes is to talk to his God about it. Listen to his words:
1 Vindicate me, Lord,
for I have led a blameless life;
I have trusted in the Lord
and have not faltered.
There is no mention in the psalm what exactly he is being accused of, but what is denied by him is that he is not like those who are accusing him, whose lives are lived in ways that he avoids as a faithful follower of Yahweh.
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.
And, he is willing for God to check him out and see if this is true or not, so he says:
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.
A big prayer! Maybe it is even a dangerous prayer, to allow our lives to be completely transparent before a Holy God for his assessment of us. Blaiklock calls it a “salutary and subduing prayer to pray” and suggests that “Suddenly to find such a prayer answered might be a painful experience.” (see references # 37)
David prays a similar thing in Psalm 139:23-24
Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
Often it is difficult to really “understand” what is in our “hearts” and our “minds”, until all of a sudden God reveals it, and often we are shocked by our true motivation, our true feelings, the actual desires of our hearts.
I remember sitting in a worship service one morning a few years ago and listening to a young preacher speak. He was sharing his story and told of, what was, in my opinion, a pretty idyllic upbringing within a stable family life and loving parents. I couldn’t help comparing my own ‘dysfunctional’ family life and the pain and struggle that had resulted, and so felt a twinge of envy that this had not been my lot in life. I didn’t ask God to “search me… and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts”, but He did anyway! And, in the quietness, the Lord spoke and said, “Did I make a mistake, Rod?” Immediately, I answered back what I knew to be true, “No, Lord, you didn’t make a mistake.” In fact, it was in that particular church that for a number of years I had had the privilege of being involved in a “recovery ministry” to other men (some from dysfunctional families) who struggled with various issues, some that I too had struggled with, and so, was able to be of some help to them.
So, David continues his prayer:
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.
Broyles suggests, “The key factor in this [psalm]…is not absolute moral purity – it is a question of allegiance: is one loyal to the assembly of the wicked or to the assembly of Yahweh’s worshipers? It is about loyalty not legalism…In sum, Psalm 26 petitions Yahweh to verify [the psalmist’s] loyalty to Yahweh’s worship and mercifully to redeem him from the judgement of the wicked…” (see references # 4)
So, in verse 1 the psalmist begins by saying,
[Because] I have [relied on and] trusted [confidently] in the Lord without wavering I shall not slip.
And concludes in verse 12 with the words:
My foot stands on a level place; [because] In the congregations I will bless the Lord. (Amplified Version)
Longman concludes, “At the end, the psalmist again asserts the stability of his life. He has not faltered, but rather stands solidly on level ground, and he intends to continue to praise God in the public place of worship.” (see references #30)
Paul in his letter to the Ephesian believers to encourage them in times of persecution, says:
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes…so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then… (Ephesians 6)
Father, thank you that in times of trouble, you are with us, and in your mercy and grace, you deliver us. Thank you that victory over evil is ours in Christ, and in your mighty power, as we trust in you, we shall not slip over but stand our ground, standing firm on level ground as we bless your holy name. Amen.