The Psalms speak with honesty, emotion, and passion. Who prays a dangerous prayer like this? “Prove me, O Lord and try me; test my heart and mind.” It sounds like the psalmist is saying, “Look at me, God. I’m doing great! I’m living a godly life and have no sin to speak of. Take a close look at me, and you’ll see how spiritual I am.”
The Bible ascribes this psalm to David, whose sins we know all too well. His prayers of confession and repentance are some of the most humble, transparent passages in scripture. Not far from Psalm 26 David acknowledges his sin and his need of God’s mercy: “Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions. . . . Consider my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sins” (Ps. 25:7, 18).
Then it struck me. We also know David as the victim of unjust treatment at the hands of others, being hunted like an animal and slandered, indicted for crimes he did not commit.
Who prays a prayer like Psalm 26:1? One who has experienced false accusation and is pleading the case before God. The psalmist does not brag of spiritual superiority but makes a claim of innocence. He is simply saying, “These accusations are false. I did not do what people are saying I did. I am coming to you, Lord, because you know the truth.” The enemies are real, and David turns to a gracious God for redemption, expecting God to act on his behalf.
The psalm ends with a promise of praise anyway. Integrity fosters an ability to bless God and neighbor in all situations.
Examine me, God, from head to foot; fill me with grace that I may praise you and bless my neighbor. Amen.
This month we read about Job, an upright man who faces severe trials but never loses his faith. Job’s story brings us face-to-face with the fact that living a godly life does not make us immune to suffering. Like Job, the psalmist wonders why he suffers, even though he lives according to God’s standards. Hebrews presents Jesus as the ultimate example of unwarranted suffering, yet because of his perseverance he is ultimately glorified. In Mark, some Pharisees test Jesus on the interpretation of the law concerning divorce. Jesus makes strong statements about marriage, but his larger concern is that their hearts have become hard. He contrasts them with little children, who model faith by receiving God with an open heart.
• Read Job 1:1; 2:1-10. How do you live with integrity?
• Read Psalm 26. When have you turned to God, fully expecting divine intervention in a tough situation? What happened?
• Read Hebrews 1:1-4; 2:5-12. When has your reaction to God’s showing up in unexpected ways resulted in a face-plant?
• Read Mark 10:2-16. How questioning a person are you? When have your questions helped you move below the surface of an issue to see the supporting understanding?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
View a growing list of resources for the spiritual work of overcoming racism.