Reading: Psalm 26
Vindicate me, LORD,
for I have led a blameless life;
I have trusted in the LORD
and have not faltered.
Test me, LORD, and try me,
examine my heart and my mind;
for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love
and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness.
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.
I wash my hands in innocence,
and go about your altar, LORD,
proclaiming aloud your praise
and telling of all your wonderful deeds (NIV).*
The opening lines of Psalm 26 certainly catch my attention. David claims to have led a blameless life—a rather audacious statement in my opinion. But he doesn’t stop there. He goes on to invite God to test him. David pleads, “Test me, LORD, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness.”
Now that takes some nerve. Do I really want the LORD to examine my heart and my mind? If I underwent a heart and mind exam, what would my test scores be? Most of us would shy away from being tested by God, but David’s response is completely different. He is clearly saying, “Bring it on!”
How could David be so self-assured—so confident—to the point of sounding arrogant? Actually, David’s confidence was not so much in his own performance, but rather his confidence was in God. He states that he is mindful of the LORD’s unfailing love. He is relying on the LORD’s faithfulness. David knew the unfailing love and faithfulness of God, and this wasn’t merely head knowledge—a bit of mental information. No. David knew God experientially. He experienced the LORD’s unfailing love. He experienced the faithfulness of God over and over in his life. As a youth he slew a marauding lion and a bear. He brought down the mighty Goliath. He fled for his life, but ultimately triumphed over the madness of King Saul. David knew his God experientially in the grit of battle and the daily humdrum.
What about you? Do you have a memory bank full of great experiences with God? If the answer is no, why not ask God for a deposit today? If you put your faith in Him, He will not let you down.
Response: LORD, examine my heart and my mind. I want to grow in my knowledge of you and my confidence in you. Help me to have a pure heart and mind before you. I want to experience your presence in my life. Amen.
Your Turn: Have you experienced God’s love and faithfulness recently? Do you let Him examine you?
* New International Version, Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica
I will praise the LORD!
Better the little that the righteous have
than the wealth of many wicked;
for the power of the wicked will be broken,
but the LORD upholds the righteous.
The blameless spend their days under the LORD’s care,
and their inheritance will endure forever.
In times of disaster they will not wither;
in days of famine they will enjoy plenty.
(Psalm 37:16-19, NIV)*
* Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica
Reading: Psalm 119
Blessed are those whose ways are blameless,
who walk according to the law of the LORD.
Blessed are those who keep his statutes
and seek him with all their heart—
they do no wrong
but follow his ways.
You have laid down precepts
that are to be fully obeyed.
Oh, that my ways were steadfast
in obeying your decrees!
Then I would not be put to shame
when I consider all your commands.
I will praise you with an upright heart
as I learn your righteous laws.
I will obey your decrees;
do not utterly forsake me (NIV).
We are about to start a twenty-two day journey through Psalm 119, the longest Psalm in the Bible. This is also an acrostic poem, which in this case means each stanza of this poetic psalm begins with a different letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The section above for instance, begins with the letter Aleph, which roughly corresponds to our letter A. Also, within each alphabetic stanza are eight verses, which all begin with the same Hebrew letter. In this way the psalm’s composer works his way through the entire twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet. This psalm is a truly remarkable literary composition, which was originally structured to be memorized, like the alphabet. Alas, for the English reader, much of the elaborate, intricate beauty of this psalm is lost the moment it is translated from its original tongue.
The theme of this psalm is consistent throughout. It is a poetic testimony in praise of God’s holy, unchanging word. Here we find the alpha and omega of the psalms—a literary tribute to the A to Z wonder of God’s word. Every letter trumpets the salutary goodness of God’s written word.
From the beginning of this poetic masterpiece the author recognizes his need. His life needs to be governed by the law of the LORD. His goal and heart’s desire is to lead a blameless life. God’s blessing comes to such a person. Blessed are those whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the LORD. Blessed are those who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart—they do no wrong but follow his ways.
In a world of injustice and moral rot the words of Psalm 119 pierce like a steel-tipped bullet to the heart. But the first heart that needs to be changed—totally renewed—is my own.
Response: LORD God, like the psalmist I want to fall in love with your word. Here is the purpose to my desire. I want to live a blameless life that brings honor to my Maker because you are good. Amen.
Your Turn: Is holy living one of your goals? Do you see value in leading a blameless life before God?
Reading: Psalm 101
Whoever slanders their neighbor in secret,
I will put to silence;
whoever has haughty eyes and a proud heart,
I will not tolerate.
My eyes will be on the faithful in the land,
that they may dwell with me;
the one whose walk is blameless
will minister to me.
No one who practices deceit
will dwell in my house;
no one who speaks falsely
will stand in my presence.
Every morning I will put to silence
all the wicked in the land;
I will cut off every evildoer
from the city of the LORD (NIV).
One of the roles of a king in ancient Israel was to render judgment in difficult civil cases. In fact, judges ruled Israel for about 400 years before the first king was anointed; hence the judicial role was of great significance during the early years of Israel’s kingdom period.
This reading from Psalm 101 should be viewed as King David’s commitment to his judicial role. He was determined to govern wisely, and for him that meant identifying and siding with those who do right. My eyes will be on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me; the one whose walk is blameless will minister to me.
Choosing the right kind of people to associate with is of great importance. This is not about the economic strata you occupy. Typically, rich people associate only with other rich people; similarly lower class people have friends of the same social standing. But honesty and integrity cross these artificial socioeconomic lines. There are crooks and swindlers among the rich and among the poor. In the same way there are honest people of integrity at the extremes of both wealth and poverty.
David’s objective was to raise the integrity bar. He had no patience for lies or deceit. What kind of people do you enjoy hanging around with? Do they prompt you to walk with them in a blameless way, or do they drag you down in the gutter? Do they prompt you to good deeds or tempt you into a crooked path? It has often been said that we are known by the friends we choose. Are you a friend of God? James has this admonition for us: Don’t you know that if you love the world, you are God’s enemies? And if you decide to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God (James 4:4, CEV).
Response: Heavenly Father, I want to be your friend. I want to love you because you first loved me and showed that love through your son, Jesus. Help me to choose my friends wisely as I let your life and joy shine through me. Amen.
Your Turn: Do your friends encourage you in your faith? Are you letting light shine?
Reading: Psalm 101
Of David. A psalm.
I will sing of your love and justice;
to you, LORD, I will sing praise.
I will be careful to lead a blameless life—
when will you come to me?
I will conduct the affairs of my house
with a blameless heart.
I will not look with approval
on anything that is vile.
I hate what faithless people do;
I will have no part in it.
The perverse of heart shall be far from me;
I will have nothing to do with what is evil (NIV).
Psalm 101 is a call to action or commitment. David, the author of this psalm, commits himself to a course of action. In this short opening portion of the psalm, David makes seven ‘I will’ statements. Each commitment is life altering in some way.
The first commitment David makes is to sing of the LORD’s justice and love. He is determined to praise his God with a full, joyous awareness of the LORD’s character. This is the true starting point of any sustained relationship with God. The LORD is both loving and just. If we emphasize aspects of God’s justice too much, we risk becoming legalistic. If we focus only on the love of God, His holiness is ignored resulting in a break down in personal responsibility. Within the Godhead there exists a perfect tension between His justice and His love. As God’s servants, we do well when we recognize and maintain that tension.
Twice David uses the word blameless. I will be careful to lead a blameless life—when will you come to me? I will conduct the affairs of my house with a blameless heart. With these words, David has set for himself a high standard—an impossible standard. Did David succeed in reaching his lofty goal? The biblical record leaves no room for doubt. He failed miserably. In his affair with Bathsheba, King David was guilty of both adultery and murder.
Well, what good is there then in setting lofty goals? Why make any ‘I will’ statements, if I am doomed to fail? Why not freely look on the vile and indulge in it?
Actually, despite David’s stunning failures, there are many sound reasons for calling ourselves to a high standard. To put it bluntly, God expects it of us. He demands holiness from us—always has—always will. Will we succeed? Of course not. That’s why there’s the gift of repentance. That’s why there’s a Savior named Jesus. He’s the blameless one. I need his sinless record applied to my account.
Response: Dear God, I want my will to be conformed to your will. I want to lead a blameless life. By Jesus’ blood, grant me a blameless heart that is determined to love and serve you for all my days. Amen.
Your Turn: Should we set goals for ourselves? How do you measure the progress in your love for God?
I will praise Him!
A psalm of David.
LORD, who may dwell in your sacred tent?
Who may live on your holy mountain?
The one whose walk is blameless,
who does what is righteous,
who speaks the truth from their heart;
whose tongue utters no slander,
who does no wrong to a neighbor,
and casts no slur on others;
who despises a vile person
but honors those who fear the LORD;
who keeps an oath even when it hurts,
and does not change their mind;
who lends money to the poor without interest;
who does not accept a bribe against the innocent.
Whoever does these things
will never be shaken.
(Psalm 15:1-5, NIV)
Reading: Psalm 18
To the faithful you show yourself faithful,
to the blameless you show yourself blameless,
to the pure you show yourself pure,
but to the devious you show yourself shrewd.
You save the humble
but bring low those whose eyes are haughty.
You, LORD, keep my lamp burning;
my God turns my darkness into light.
With your help I can advance against a troop;
with my God I can scale a wall (NIV).
How do you see God? How do you perceive Him to be? The opening lines of today’s psalm reading tell us plainly that the state of our heart determines our perception of God. God reveals Himself to us according to the condition of our soul. Therefore, David makes this observation: To the faithful you show yourself faithful, to the blameless you show yourself blameless, to the pure you show yourself pure, but to the devious you show yourself shrewd.
The truth expressed in this straightforward observation has enormous implications for every human on the planet. Our relationship with God is shaped by our perception of Him, and our perception of Him is reflective of the state of our heart. For example, one person goes through a period of hardship and loss and becomes bitter and angry toward others and God. Another person goes through a similar period of hardship and loss, but emerges passionately in love with his Creator. How can this be?
The answer can be found in David’s observation: To the faithful you show yourself faithful, to the blameless you show yourself blameless, to the pure you show yourself pure, but to the devious you show yourself shrewd. The blameless assign no blame to God, but the sin-darkened soul blames Him for even the slightest adversity.
Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (Matthew 5:8). Do you want to see God at work in your life? Then ask the Lord Jesus to give you a pure heart. God shows Himself—becomes visible—to those with a pure heart. The pure in heart see God in the glory of the sunset, in the face of a child, in kindness of a stranger. The sin-polluted soul can view the same scene—experience the same events—and sees God in none of it. He is blind to God.
Our eyes open the moment we humble ourselves before God. David’s words ring true today. You save the humble but bring low those whose eyes are haughty. You, LORD, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.
Response: Heavenly Father, give me a pure heart. I want to see you. I want to see you, Lord Jesus, alive and active all around me today. Give me eyes that see beyond the natural and into the realm of the spirit where you are at work. Amen.
Your Turn: Did you see God today? How did He show Himself to you?