“Judge me, O Jehovah.” That’s how Young, in his literal translation, renders the opening lyrics of David’s twenty-sixth song. The idea is that of asking a judge or a governor to weigh the evidence of a matter and render a ruling. It calls for the examination and discerning of the facts. It requests a sentence to be pronounced . . . for or against . . . true or untrue. And as I hover over David’s request this morning, it really seems like a risky thing to ask of a holy, holy, holy God who knows all things.
Vindicate me, O LORD, for I have walked in my integrity, and I have trusted in the LORD without wavering.
(Psalm 26:1 ESV)
David’s call for a verdict isn’t concerning his perfection. Instead, He asks the LORD to examine His sincerity.
I have walked in integrity . . . and I have trusted without wavering (v.1). I wash my hands in innocence (v.6) . . . and I shall continue to walk in integrity (v.11).
Not my acts, Lord, I hear David saying, but my aspiration. Not my deeds, but my desire and determination. David presents before the Judge his heart and invites Him to examine it . . . and to examine it thoroughly.
Prove me, O LORD, and try me; test my heart and my mind.
(Psalm 26:2 ESV)
A bit of lexicon lookup and you realize that David’s inviting intense scrutiny. Assay my heart, Lord, as a metal’s purity is determined by fire. Apply the heat of open examination and expose any impurities. Look me through and through. Leave no thought or intent of the heart unexamined. Look in the secret and see if there isn’t sincerity. An authentic desire to pursue You. An honest pleasure in worshiping You (v.6-7). A genuine love for “the habitation of Your house and the place where Your glory dwells” (v.8).
I read David’s petition before Jehovah and I’m reminded of a similar plea in another song of his.
Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!
(Psalm 139:23-24 ESV)
And the request for examination, the plea for vindication, was not that David might boast before God of his own righteousness. But that, because of his unwavering trust in the faithfulness of God, and his sincere determination to walk in the ways of God, he might know the grace of God to realize his desire. That the work that God had begun in him might be completed. That the nature the Father sought to form in him would be realized.
But as for me, I shall walk in my integrity; redeem me, and be gracious to me.
(Psalm 26:11 ESV)
His integrity would not be enough to fulfill his intention. His strength insufficient for his settled purpose. But he needed to be ransomed and rescued from the weakness of his flesh in order to know the desire of his spirit. He needed the Divine to stoop in kindness and provide the power needed to take his holy determination and produce a holy walk.
Kind of risky asking Jehovah to judge you. But with vindication comes sanctification.
And you gotta think that’s worth it.
All by His grace. All for His glory.