Psalm 26: God of Justice

Vindicate me, Lord,
    for I have led a blameless life;
I have trusted in the Lord
    and have not faltered.
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.

I do not sit with the deceitful,
    nor do I associate with hypocrites.
I abhor the assembly of evildoers
    and refuse to sit with the wicked.
I wash my hands in innocence,
    and go about your altar, Lord,
proclaiming aloud your praise
    and telling of all your wonderful deeds.

Lord, I love the house where you live,
    the place where your glory dwells.
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.
I lead a blameless life;
    deliver me and be merciful to me.

My feet stand on level ground;
    in the great congregation I will praise the Lord.

– Psalm 26

This Psalm once more finds David sorely pressed. God never said life would be easy but often we assume he did and we get upset when we find it isn’t. David’s cry is for vindication, he feels that somehow he’s been unfairly accused or unfairly treated.

In these circumstances David’s appeal is to God. God is the only one who truly knows our hearts, the only one who truly knows our intention and our motivation. He doesn’t judge on hearsay or rumour or appearance. David pleads that he has tried to live life God’s way. The blameless life to which David refers (v1) isn’t so much the morally perfect life – if it is we’re all in trouble – but a life lived with regard to God and his unfailing love and faithfulness (v2). Verse 11 makes clear that David was aware that he also stood in need of God’s mercy and forgiveness.

David has tried to live his life God’s way, without throwing in his lot with the deceitful and the hypocritical, with the violent (v9) and the corrupt (v10).

To live justly is to know Israel’s God (Micah 6:8) and to love the place where his glory dwells. In the New Testament, Paul in a remarkable statement tells us that we ourselves are now God’s temple (Ephesians 2:21, 22), we are the place where God and humanity meet. And we are called to be a community that is unafraid to be different, a community that doesn’t conform to society around us but reflects God’s justice and joy.

Ultimately it is because YHWH is a God of justice that David can commit the difficulties of his situation to him and can be confident that whatever trouble he faces that eventually it will end in praise (2 Corinthians 4:17).