psalm xxvi – prayer of (in?)sincerity

Vindicate me, O Lord,
For I have walked in my integrity.
I have also trusted in the Lord;
I shall not slip.
Examine me, O Lord, and prove me;
Try my mind and my heart.
For Your lovingkindness is before my eyes,
And I have walked in Your truth.
I have not sat with idolatrous mortals,
Nor will I go in with hypocrites.
I have hated the assembly of evildoers,
And will not sit with the wicked.

I will wash my hands in innocence;
So I will go about Your altar, O Lord,
That I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving,
And tell of all Your wondrous works.
Lord, I have loved the habitation of Your house,
And the place where Your glory dwells.
Do not gather my soul with sinners,
Nor my life with bloodthirsty men,
In whose hands is a sinister scheme,
And whose right hand is full of bribes.

But as for me, I will walk in my integrity;
Redeem me and be merciful to me.
My foot stands in an even place;
In the congregations I will bless the Lord.

- ps xxvi (nkjv) 

If I heard someone pray this prayer, I’d think them a hypocrite. It would smack of the Pharisee in Luke, boldly proclaiming his righteousness: “God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector” (lk 18:11). But it’s right here in the Psalms, so how do we understand it?

Well, it is the prayer of the Messiah. It is the prayer of the Christ who truly can pray it. It is the prayer of Jesus who right now goes about the heavenly altar (heb 9:11) in innocence. He is the vindicated one who has redeemed mankind in one fell swoop and that includes you. He approaches the Father and says to Him, “See here the offering I have made for this man and this woman! See how I have included them into Myself. I am your Son, and now so too are these sinners. They are My brothers and Your children.”

What’s more amazing is that you, this brother or sister of Christ, are by all accounts in yourself: a hypocrite, an idolatrous mortal, the wicked, the evildoer. The Son of God by no means was forced to become one of us; to come along and dwell among us. We are the wicked the Righteous should well avoid. Yet, instead of destroying the wicked (us) or fleeing the wicked, He chose a third way: He would make us righteous. The Son would clothe Himself in our humanity, redeem it from its wickedness, purify it, sanctify it and pass all those benefits along to us by the blood of the cross (col 1:20). You are seated with Him in heaven (eph 2:6), a son like the Son at the royal banquet of Christ. Vindicated, as the innocent Man who is the subject of this Psalm.

So you may pray this Psalm with a happy heart. If it feels disingenuous, I’m glad. That means you know to say such things of yourself in yourself would be a falseness like that of the Pharisee. But you may say them of yourself in Christ, for He has made you these things. When you see Him face to face (1 jn 3:2), you will see that clearly. For now, we look at our status before God with the eyes of faith (heb 11:10), knowing that Christ has vindicated us and made us part of the new creation.

<— psalm xxv psalm xxvii —>