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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Today’s Scripture Reading | Psalm 26:1–8

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 mind.
For your steadfast love is before my eyes,
   and I walk in faithfulness to you.

I do not sit with the worthless,
   nor do I consort with hypocrites;
I hate the company of evildoers,
   and will not sit with the wicked.

I wash my hands in innocence,
   and go around your altar, O Lord,
singing aloud a song of thanksgiving,
   and telling all your wondrous deeds.

O Lord, I love the house in which you dwell,
   and the place where your glory abides. (NRSV)

This is not what I expected from a Psalm.

I love the Psalms because most of them are prayers of thankfulness or sorrow. They provide comforting words in good times and in bad. But this? My first reaction to this Psalm was that it didn’t fit the usual pattern.

This is boastful language. “I have walked in my integrity.” “I have trusted.” “I do not consort with the hypocrites.” “I hate the company of evildoers.” It goes on and on. Even the opening, “Please vindicate me” sounds like a challenge. It’s like the author is saying, “Prove me wrong.”

I struggle with these things: doing the right thing, questions about our faith, personal doubts. I’m sure we all do.

The reality is that this is a Psalm of David, and David was not always a good man. He committed adultery and murdered the woman’s husband. So what if we read this not as a boast, but as a prayer for help and an admission that we don’t always do the right thing? The title in the Bible I used called it a “plea,” and certainly that’s what it should be. While it’s normal to sometimes think we’re doing better than we really are, if we are honest with ourselves, we know that we all struggle with these same things.

So today, let this be a reminder of what we should believe and do. Let us put aside our boastfulness, and consider this be our prayer for help and our admission that we don’t always live up to what we are called to do.

Enduring God, help me today and everyday to do what you call us to do. To love others. To do justice. To be humble. And to trust that you are there to support me through it all. Amen.

Written by Mark Nelson, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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