“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.”
~Psalm 26:2-3 (NIV).
This psalm is a lament of the individual (“of David”) but with a difference. On this occasion the psalmist is given to protesting his innocence, as if taking the witness stand, as he distances himself from the goons of folly, and the “deceitful,” “hypocrites,” “evildoers,” and the “wicked.” (See verses 4-5.)
Decrying Claims of Wrong From Others
Nobody has a shortage of people around them who are quick to judge. We, by our human nature, ‘climb’ to some manner of assumption and attribution regarding other people’s behaviours.
Most of the time we don’t wait for the slow-to-arrive cavalcade of truth; we go on hunches; we take risks regarding our perceptions. And so do others.
Learning to take the negative claims of others with a pinch of salt is dispelling fear that appears for a moment, but then flees just as quick.
The psalmist has learned to entreat God. In this situation, with enemies all around, only God knows his heart and only God cares. By imploring God regarding the vexation of others we focus attention on sharing our fears in secret rather than spilling them out onto the streets. Vulnerability is wisest when unpeeled in safety.
Decrying Claims of Wrong From Ourselves
How often do we self-accuse? This is no joke. We’re often too quick to judge ourselves and hold ourselves up, unfairly, against the flame of God’s holy righteousness.
We get our aspirations mixed up with our capabilities.
It’s better to always be gentle with ourselves when we’re wrong — acknowledging the fault, yes, but resolving the error without damaging and unnecessary recrimination. In our honesty we’re to take full onus of our responsibility, but not others’ onus as well.
Acknowledging Our Faithfulness in Humility
As we consider a stalwart of faith at their funeral, perhaps an octogenarian, or one very elderly in their years, we do laud their faithfulness to fight the good fight of the Lord to the bitter end.
We recall their stamina and fortitude. Their repugnance at sin was only outdone by their God-infused grace to deplore the sin whilst loving the sinner; for they, themselves, knew the sharpness of their inner sinfulness. They were a mentor extraordinaire; admired (for the right reasons) by many.
It’s true that many who read this will secretly believe this as an anthem for their lives; that, in due humility, and in God’s sight, they’ve proven to be faithful, overall.
This is no raucous pride glowing with brash resplendence.
No, this is the quintessence of humility, that a servant of God can rightfully claim the truth — warts and all — and where they’ve succeeded in their mission for God. Heaven knows we fail; it’s good that we can also rally in our successes of virtue.
The psalmist, at last (verse 12), affirms what they’re all about. As our feet stand on “level,” solid ground, we too can attach comfort and peace to our positions. We know we’ve been as steadfast as humanly possible; let’s enjoy the quiet assurance of the Lord as we rest in that heart-place now.
© 2011 S. J. Wickham.