After last week’s detour to Psalm 55, we are back on track with where we left off – Psalm 26! As I read this Psalm two thoughts ran through my mind:
- This is beautiful! I want to have this sort of confidence and pray like this.
- This is so different once we bring Jesus, the Word of God, into the picture.
Read Psalm 26.
I love how David has so much assurance of his own identity. He asks God to test him, to examine his heart and mind, knowing he is true (v. 2). He declares his love for God’s house above all else (v. 8). He tells of God’s wonderful deeds (v. 7). As we’ve talked about spiritual disciplines each week and Caedmon has shared prayers from the Psalms, it strikes home that the Psalms truly are a model for how we can learn to pray.
Yet…from a Christian perspective, we have not plumbed the depths of any passage of scripture until we shine the light of Jesus upon it. Whatever it means for the Bible to be the word of God, the Christian confession is that Jesus is the Word of God primarily. In Jesus we see the clearest and definitive picture of who God is.
So when David declares he has led a blameless life (v. 1), I need to ask, has he really? Even if we didn’t have the stories of his life in 1-2 Samuel and his confession of guilt in Psalm 51, I think we could extrapolate from knowing humanity that no one has led a fully blameless life. This is basic Christian teaching on sin: all humans are sinners, no one is blameless. None of us can past this test David desires (v. 2) for none of us has always been mindful of God (v. 3).
Then when we come to verse 4-7, it reads like a typical Christian rant about being separated from the world, as if “they” are the sinners and we are the good people. If you refuse to sit with the wicked today, you are not just judgmental (who are you to call them wicked?) but hypocritcal (you’re also a sinner!). Besides that, Jesus set the example of sitting with sinners and its hard to be obedient to Jesus’ call to be light in the world if we are not, you know, in the world.
This leads to the final point: David declares he loves where the Lord lives. While it may be tempting to think of a church building as God’s house (I know I thought that, when I was a kid), we know that God is not confined to a building. If you need convincing, you could read John 4, for example. The reality is, God is with us wherever we are. Even when we go out into the dark places of the world, we may be surprised to find God already among those people we once deemed as nothing more than “wicked.”
What do you think? Is it possible to both love a Psalm like this one and have deep recognition that much of what it is saying needs a shift in light of Jesus?
**I recently began sending the students in CSF a brief reflection on a Psalm each Friday. My hope is that it will provide them with some motivation to read scripture. I have enjoyed meditating on the Psalms, and I look forward to taking the next few years to get through them all! I decided it might be worthwhile to post the weekly devos here, so if you happen to read this, I pray it is helpful. Enjoy.