By Rich Lambert
“Vindicate me, O Lord, for I have walked in my integrity, and I have trusted in the Lord without wavering. 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. I do not sit with men of falsehood, nor do I consort with hypocrites. I hate the assembly of evildoers, and I will not sit with the wicked. I wash my hands in innocence and go around your altar, O Lord, proclaiming thanksgiving aloud, and telling all your wondrous deeds. O Lord, I love the habitation of your house and the place where your glory dwells. Do not sweep my soul away with sinners, nor my life with bloodthirsty men, in whose hands are evil devices, and whose right hands are full of bribes. 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.” - Psalm 26
David sounds boastful, but he is actually crowing with humility. He is not claiming an uprightness, an integrity, a wholeness native to him. He is testifying that he has uprightness and integrity and wholeness, because these qualities of God have splashed onto him, or into him as the case may be. David is not claiming to have generated these qualities out of himself; he is claiming that he bears a resemblance to God who has drawn David close and worked in him God’s own character.
And that’s why David can cry out, “Judge me (v. 1). Prove me (v. 2). Try me (v. 2). Test me (v. 2). You will be judging and proving and testing and trying your own heart put within me, and since you cannot be disappointed with yourself, I know you will not be disappointed with what you have done in me.” Just like David, that’s the humble, and paradoxically bold, claim all of us can make who are alive in God through faith.
Then David pushes his confidence even further. David claims in verse 6 that his hands are washed clean of all smears of guilt. His hands are washed with innocence. The reason for this pure standing is that he claims to hover about God’s altar where the prescribed and pleasing sacrifices are presented and received reconciling God to his people. “I walk around and around your altar,” David says, “I never stray too far from it. The fire and smoke of your sin offerings wash me white as snow who was shadowy as soot.” It is a glimpse from David’s lips and quill of the fullness of the Gospel that will unfold in Jesus later in the New Testament. What David confesses here is something very close to the way we might exhort one another to “stay near the cross of Jesus,” or “cling to the cross of Jesus,” or “remain at the foot of his cross.” The cross is the final altar where David’s innocence and ours are secured eternally.
And because of it, David claims he has no need of sinful tactics to get ahead or eke out some advantage for himself. “I don’t listen to liars (v. 4); I don’t finagle with hypocrites (v. 4); I don’t attend the rallies of the evil, and I don’t sit and connive with the wicked (v. 5). What more could I possibly take for myself if you have redeemed me and looked upon me with grace (v. 11), if you bring me into your house and let me dwell in the presence of your glory (v. 8), if you set me on the level ground of your steadfast love (v. 12, 3) and anchor me with your faithfulness (v. 3)?”
Once again, David shows us that those who belong to God are redeemed to resemble him.
Faith and Practice:
In what ways this week have you tried to accomplish righteous ends with sinful ways? In what ways have you trusted in integrity, and the righteousness that comes from God, even in moments where you believed, “This can’t possibly work!” What happened? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Let's face it, the Christian life is hard. Relationships take work. Christians forget. Sometimes it is tempting to go back to the days when God was not the center of our lives - to backslide. We are all faced with tremendous pressures to drift away from intimacy with Jesus and the community of the Church. However, the Lord invites us to pay attention, to move forward, to draw near, and to live lives of worship. Draw Near: Hebrews on Christian Worship is a small group Bible study on the Book of Hebrews intended to lead participants into a deeper intimacy with the living God in the context of New Testament worship. Draw nearer to God in authentic worship today!
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