[Today] Psalm Twenty-Six. Seeking the Judgment of God. In this psalm David cries out for divine self examination. Above all else David wants to be found in right relationship with God. For David as an Old Testament saint his only recourse was the law of Moses and the blood of sacrificial animals. For you and I we have the privilege of resorting to the shed blood of Calvary to both expiate and forgive our sins and also to change us into Christ’s image.
[Psa 26:1-12 KJV] 1 [[[A Psalm] of David.]] Judge me, O LORD; for I have walked in mine integrity: I have trusted also in the LORD; [therefore] I shall not slide. 2 Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; try my reins and my heart. 3 For thy lovingkindness [is] before mine eyes: and I have walked in thy truth. 4 I have not sat with vain persons, neither will I go in with dissemblers. 5 I have hated the congregation of evil doers; and will not sit with the wicked. 6 I will wash mine hands in innocency: so will I compass thine altar, O LORD: 7 That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works.
This is a psalm of self-examination. If we put ourselves in David’s place we realize we are on holy ground. When Moses stood before the burning bush the Lord told him to take of his shoes for the ground he was standing on was holy. David is inviting the Lord to examine his heart and look into the depths of his soul. He declares that he has walked in the truth because he has kept the lovingkindness of God constantly before his eyes. It is interesting that he didn’t mention instead the hand of God’s judgment. The characteristic of God that motivated David’s obedience was not judgment but mercy.
In reality the mercy of God is much more abundant in the earth than His judgment. In Acts 17:25 we read that God gives breath and life and all things to every human being. Comparatively very few men upon the earth serve the Lord. They shake their fist in His face or simply ignore Him altogether and yet He continues to extend the mercy of every moment of existence to us. The very breath by which a man blasphemes God is a gift from God in that exact moment. David realizes this and expresses his appreciation to God for His abundant mercy. The mercy of God motivates David out of appreciation more than the judgment of God motivating him through fear.
In verse 2 David asks God to try him his heart and his “reins”. This is an archaic word referring to the kidneys. Ancient peoples believed that the emotions originated in the kidneys. Another way of expressing this is that David is asking God to try his heart (or spirit) and his soul (emotions/kidneys). In the Old Testament there is not an abundant reference to the difference between spirit and soul. Old Testament writers more understood God as giving man soul and body whereas the New Testament reflects man as having spirit, soul and body. David is one of the more refined characters of the Old Testament era and therefore it is not surprising to see him making the distinction between the soul where his emotions reside and his spirit man.
When we ask the Father to try our heart we might do well to remember the words of Jeremiah in Jer. 17:9 that says that the heart of man is deceitfully wicked, beyond finding out by the mind of man. David may feel that his obedience is entire and perhaps from an Old Testament standpoint it is. Yet still man needs a savior. The law that David lived subject to was not sufficient to cleanse man’s way sufficiently to present him fit for the Master’s use. Romans 8:3 declares:
[Rom 8:3 KJV] 3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
The law of God is perfect but it relies on natural man’s willing to obey. The law of God as given in the Old Covenant does not make provision for sustaining obedience. It simply asserts it’s requirements and expects us to come up with the motivation to fully comply. When Adam and Eve were created they were created in the likeness of God and they were aware of that fact. When Satan tempted them to eat the fruit and be like God what he was suggesting is that they could be like God independent of God. Hence part of the fallen nature is to reject and resent dependence upon the God in whose image we are all made. There is in man a deep seated delusion that we don’t need God and that we can get along fine without Him. Therefore God confronts us with His law both through Moses and even through nature itself in order to prove to us that we cannot live or excel without a savior.
Man perceive the demand to live up to a standard higher than his own and he will have one of many responses. 1.) He will reject the law as not applying to himself. 2.) He will make excuses which is what Adam and Eve did after being confronted. 3.) He will blame others, claiming that though he is wrong he is less wrong than other (in his eyes) more heinous offenders. 4.) He will reject the suggestion that God even exists and therefore conclude that the law of God is a divine fiction that has no bearing upon his life.
God’s solution to man’s inability to fulfill the law is to send a savior. We cannot save ourselves. We cannot live up to the dictates of our own expectations. Outside of Christ we are doomed to delusion, deception and the snare of pride. Hence God so loved us that He sent a savior. Acts 13:39 reads thus:
[Act 13:39 KJV] 39 And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.
8 LORD, I have loved the habitation of thy house, and the place where thine honour dwelleth. 9 Gather not my soul with sinners, nor my life with bloody men: 10 In whose hands [is] mischief, and their right hand is full of bribes. 11 But as for me, I will walk in mine integrity: redeem me, and be merciful unto me. 12 My foot standeth in an even place: in the congregations will I bless the LORD.
Verses 4 and 5 warn against the company of the wicked. David says he will not sit with vain persons or join himself to the congregation of the wicked. In David’s day this was perhaps more doable than it is for us today. The scriptures say that Lot vexed his righteous soul in the city of Sodom – yet Lot chose to be there. You and I are surrounded by culture more sinful than Sodom and would have to leave the planet to find a sanctuary. Yet the exhortation of David’s words still compels us to set a separation between ourselves and the Christ rejecting culture that we live in. Without some sense of separation between ourselves and sinful men there is no experience of Christian community.
In verse 6 David says he will wash his hands in innocency. How does he do this? By embracing the altar of God. Even in Old Testament times serving God was understood to be more that through good works. The altar of shed blood was of indispensable to the Old Testament saints. Yet because only animals were sacrificed there, men had to return there over and over again because the blood of bulls and goats could not expiate sin. The writer of Hebrews acknowledged this:
[Heb 10:4 KJV] 4 For [it is] not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.
When men came regularly with animal sacrifice they were testifying to their own need of cleansing. It was a continual requirement. Some believers feel that a constant and ongoing expression of contrition even over past sins is required but the writer in Heb. 10 goes on to say this:
[Heb 10:10 KJV] 10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once [for all].
We are not as David embracing an altar – we are embracing Christ. Even though the death of Jesus was centuries before our birth we are still cleansed by what He did for us there. It is not our deference to the law or repetitious sacrifice that cleanses us. We are sanctified, justified and rendered righteous by the shed blood of Calvary. The blood of Christ reaches us because it was the blood of an eternal man who was without sin. If we sacrifice and make atonement it is insufficient because we are born in sin and our own acts of righteousness cannot ever address sufficiently our inherent sinfulness. We need a savior and He is found in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.
In verse 11 David cries out for redemption and mercy even though he is making every effort to walk in integrity where the law is concerned. He is an observant, compliant Jew but realizes that he still needs a savior. He concludes with a faith statement that his foot will stand in an even place and that he will bless the Lord in the congregation of the Lord. David’s psalms seem to follow this pattern – of expressing the need or complaint and then declaring confidence in God to secure and redeem before it actually takes place.
Verse 1 of the psalms speaks of David’s prayer that he not “slide”. The term backslider originates in this reference and others in the New Testament. Was there ever a time that you were closer to God than you are right now? Are there areas of lukewarmness or distance in your heart between you and God? Has the world around you contaminated your spirit and caused you to feel unclean? You can come to Jesus and the sacrifice he made 2000 years ago. It isn’t necessary for you to perform acts of contrition or go through some ritual of sanctification. All that is required is humility, and transparency before God and faith in the shed blood of Calvary not only to forgive you but to transform you as well.
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