April 20: Psalm 26
Integrity, Holiness, and Mercy
Common meter 86.86 Morning Song, p. 30
Dundee, p. 40
St. Anne (O God, Our Help in Ages Past), p. 39
Judge me, O Lord, for I have walked in my integrity,
And ever with unwav’ring heart have trusted, Lord, in Thee.
Examine me, and prove me, Lord; test heart and mind, I pray.
Thy mercy is before my eyes; thy truth has led my way.
I will not with deceitful go, with hypocrites will not wait.
I will not sit with wicked men; their company I hate.
I’ll wash my hands in innocence, approach Thine altar, Lord,
That with a thankful voice I may thy wonders all record.
The habitation of Thy house, O Lord, is my delight;
The place in which Thy glory dwells is lovely in my sight.
With sinners gather not my soul; spare me from blood they spill.
In their hand is a wicked scheme; their right hand bribes do fill.
But as for me, I’ll humbly walk in my integrity.
Redeem Thou me, and in Thy grace be merciful to me.
Because my foot is standing now upon a level place;
Within the congregation great Jehovah I will bless.
In the measure that the voice of this psalm is the voice of innocence, it is a psalm most properly heard from the lips of Christ our Lord, who alone is truly innocent. The deepest sense of Psalm 26 is Christological. Nonetheless, there is also a moral sense to this psalm, for we Christians too are called to live in some measure of innocence, in contrast to the world around us. In this context, Christian “blamelessness” is not an abstract or general ideal. We are more than merely ‘declared’ innocent. We are ‘made’ innocent. Christian blamelessness is not simply imputed; it is infused. Something actually happens to us; something real is effected in our souls. It truly makes us clean. The blood of Christ really washes us from our sins. But it is not of our doing. Even as we say to God (twice in this psalm), “I have walked in my innocence,” it is still necessary to add, “Redeem me and have mercy on me.” Innocence is not to be claimed except through repentance (1 John 1:9). It is from the altar of repentance that we are rendered innocent, purged by a coal so ardent that not even the fiery seraph dares to take it except with tongs. (Reardon, p. 49-50)