“How dare you judge me!”
“Who do you think you are to judge me like that?”
We hate to be judged by other people. We hate being looked down on by self-righteous prigs.
But sometimes the things others say to us are correct. We’re in the wrong. And to reject their words as being judgmental is to miss out on the grace of being corrected and saved from our foolishness.
There are times when others are being judgmental of us out of their arrogance. And there are times when they’re being helpful, pointing out our errors. The problem is a lack of humility on our part will lead to a defensiveness that keeps us from holding on to the true while rejecting the false.
In Psalm 26, David is facing accusing words from others. But even though he feels like the accusations are unjustified, he doesn’t dismiss them out of hand. Instead, he calls on a higher judge to test the merits of his life and of the accusations. He calls on God.
Vindicate me, Lord ….
Test me, Lord, and try me,
examine my heart and my mind (Ps. 26:1,3)
The word translated as “vindicate” is more literally “judge.” David actually wants to be judged. He wants to be tested, tried, and examined. He wants God to put his life under the microscope. He wants to be cross-examined on the witness stand. He wants the Judge himself to ask the prying questions. The reason that word is rightly translated as “vindicate” is because David expects God’s judgment to prove his innocence.
What he doesn’t do that I so often do is reject judgment itself out of hand. Rather, he calls for a deeper judgment, believing the words of accusation miss out on the reality of his life.
Many years ago, during a summer of service at Lakeside Bible Camp, someone in authority pulled me aside with another friend and accused us of a number of things, none of which were correct. I pleaded innocence, but that only made him think I was that much more guilty. And so I sulked. For a full two years, I was angry every time I thought of that leader.
I justified myself rather than laying my case before God and asking him to judge me, asking him to justify me.
Instead of rejecting judgment, we need to embrace it. We need to call on God as our Judge, knowing he alone will judge truly.
Similar to the beginning of Psalm 1, Psalm 26 considers the company we keep as judgment is passed.
I do not sit with the deceitful,
nor do I associate with hypocrites.
I abhor the assembly of evildoers
and refuse to sit with the wicked. (Ps. 26:4-5)
Who we sit with, who we hang out with, says a lot about who we are.
Who are the people I’m drawn to? Who are the people who are drawn to me? What kinds of conversations do I have? What are the themes that run through all of my relationships? Do they bring me down or do they lift me up? What are the kinds of things we laugh about? Do I have a sense of the Presence of God when I’m with them?
Instead of bad company, David keeps company with God himself.
Lord, I love the house where you live,
the place where your glory dwells. (v.8)
He doesn’t hang out with the wicked, hanging out with God instead. He doesn’t fill his mouth with their deceitful words, proclaiming God’s praise and wonderful deeds instead (vs. 4-7). Because of these things, he doesn’t want to be lumped together with sinners and doesn’t want his end to be the same as theirs (vs. 9-10).
He claims a blameless life.
Vindicate me, Lord,
for I have led a blameless life (v. 1)
I lead a blameless life;
deliver me and be merciful to me. (v. 11)
A blameless life isn’t a sinless life. The psalm just before Psalm 26 is a confession psalm. David had no over-inflated sense of himself and his moral purity. He was quite aware of how flawed he was.
A blameless life isn’t a life without falls and failings. It’s a life that has a moral consistency to it. The sins of the blameless are the exceptions not the rule. Those sins come from the sinfulness in all of us, not a lifestyle of sin that comes with dwelling among those who also lead a lifestyle of sin.
Is scheming and underhanded dealings with money a theme for my life? Or is gathering in the great congregation of God’s praising people a theme for my life?
Who is my tribe? What are the qualities of the people I sit at table with?
My friends are the measure of my life. There are many things I will be judged on. But perhaps the most telling of all, I will be judged by the company I keep.