Psalm 26 – Help when Falsely Accused
Have you ever been falsely accused? Have you ever been a victim of a mistaken identity or a stolen identity? Or charged the wrong amount of money, or charged for something you never ordered, or overcharged because of human error or computer error? The writer of Psalm 26 would be able to relate to your situation.
Chances are all of us have experienced one of these at some time, especially as we deal with the quagmire which is our health care system: over charges, billing mistakes and insurance errors. Through no fault of our own, we are forced to repeatedly seek to clear our good name by clearing up the mistake.
Years ago, when my daughter got her first cell phone, she was a minor so I had to put it in my name. The inexperienced salesclerk at Radio Shack entered my name as Patricia Patterson. I caught the mistake but not before it had been entered into the computer system. Several years later when doing a routine credit check I saw, aka Patricia Patterson on the form. I had an alias.
One year, when I ordered a magazine subscription over the phone, the person taking my order entered my name as Robinson. The order went through on my credit card despite the wrong name. When my car was towed to Extreme Dodge, they entered my name as Patricia Robinson. I corrected them several times however they could not change it once it was in the system.
So now I have another alias. Mistaken identity, billing errors are common in this computer age of ours.
If you have ever been wrongly charged with anything, Psalm 26 is for you. It’s a simple lament of someone wrongly charged seeking justice. Not a lament over ill health or other dire straits, not a request for healing but for justice. It could be used by any number of individuals who may not have the poetic ability to make up their own prayer. It could also be used by a group in prayer.
Psalm 26 begins with a plea for help, for vindication for he has been falsely accused. He states how he has walked in integrity without wavering, following God’s commandments and trusting God. He asks God to test him, confident in God’s steadfast love and that he has been faithful in following God’s ways. (vs. 1-3)
Sincerity of Faith
In verses 4-5 he provides evidence of the sincerity of his faith, how he avoids the company of evil doers. Verses 6-7 seem out of place as the writer is still in the midst of presenting his case before God. Chances are verses 6-7 belongs more appropriately at the end of the psalm. The writer expresses confidence that his prayers will be heard and gives thanks in advance to God. However, it is possible that the writer is referring to a ritual hand washing as a way of enforcing his innocence. In verses 8-10 the writer renews his request. He pleads for his life so that he may continue to enjoy his chief delight which is spending time with the Lord in his house.
The psalm concludes by restating his opening petition, how he continues to walk with integrity. Not only that, he believes that his present perilous path will become smooth – his foot stands on level ground. He is firm in his conviction that he has done no wrong and so God will redeem him.
Righteous or Self-Righteous
There are no words of humility within psalm 26; he doesn’t humbly acknowledge his sin because there is no sin in this situation. It almost sounds like the words of the Pharisee in prayer at the front of the Temple proclaiming his righteousness while the publican remains on his knees in the back humbly asking for mercy. This raises the question, is the writer righteous or self-righteous? How do we tell the difference? There can be a thin line between true righteousness when we know we are in the right, and self-righteousness that is unable to recognize any wrong-doing.
The self-righteous are unable to acknowledge their sinfulness. They think they are better than others and so deserving of better treatment. There can be a danger in praying Psalm 26 that we might fall into self-righteousness. But there is a time and place for the righteous who are wrongly accused to stand up for themselves, confront the false charges and request redress for the wrongs.
Ours is not a wimpy religion where we never stand up for ourselves. If we are wrong, we are to admit our failings, but when in the right we need to confront injustice. Wise are those who know the difference.
Who is Righteous?
Who is the righteous one? We have already seen in previous psalms and in the prophet Micah, the righteous one is the one who walks humbly with our God. Is the writer one of these? Psalm 26 begins and ends with this statement of his faith; that he walks with integrity so that he knows he is on firm ground where God is concerned. A person of integrity is one who lives as he believes; there is no conflict between his words and his life. In the case of the writer, his integrity is rooted in his faith.
The popular soap opera, Dallas, featured JR Ewing, the man you loved to hate. I used to watch each week just to hear JR’s one-liners, such as: “once you lose your integrity, everything else is a piece of cake.” It says so much about integrity and the importance of it. With it, you lead a righteous, moral life, without it, your morals are gone. You are set down a path of wrong doing and ill-gotten gain, with no thought about the repercussions of your actions, whether they are right or wrong.
So, who is the righteous one? How shall we know him? By his fruits we shall know him. The righteous person, the one with integrity who walks with God faithfully, will bear great fruit just by being true to God’s word.
Father’s Day – Celebrating Righteous Men
This Sunday we celebrate Father’s Day, a good time to remember the righteous men in our lives. Men of integrity who are true to themselves and their word. Who taught us through example how to stand up for what is right in this world. Men who are strong, yet gentle, who walk humbly with God. It is a good time to thank them for their witness to us, for teaching us how to walk with integrity through their example.
Have you ever been unfairly accused of wrong-doing? How did you handle this? Who are the righteous in your life?
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