URC Daily Devotion 3rd December

Psalm 26

Declare me innocent, O LORD;
I’ve walked in blameless ways,
And I have trusted in the LORD,
not wav’ring all my days.

Test me, O LORD, and try my heart;
my inmost thoughts survey.
Your love surrounds me; from your truth
my feet will never stray.

I do not sit with worthless folk;
I shun the hypocrite.
I hate the wicked’s gatherings;
with them I will not sit.

I wash my hands in innocence,
and blameless is my heart;
I go about your altar, LORD—
the place you set apart.

I’ll tell of all your awesome deeds,
proclaiming loud your praise.
Your glory fills your dwelling-place;
I love your house always.

Sweep not away my soul, O LORD,
with those who hate your way;
Nor take away my life with those
who love to wound and slay.

For their right hands are full of bribes;
they plot iniquity.
But I will lead a blameless life—
in mercy set me free.

My feet will stand with confidence
upon a level place,
And in the people’s gathering
I’ll praise the LORD of grace.

You can hear this sung to the tune Ballerma here

Reflection

In hillwalking days I tended to prefer the short cut. My route would cut out the drudgery of following the well marked path. The family recall this with no sense of pleasure. One occasion, when out walking by myself, I ventured on to a scree slope – it seemed the quickest way to the top. Half way up I found myself not in control of my feet. Every time I moved, the loose stones above me moved in sympathy burying me up to the ankles. I was having difficulty keeping my balance. I stopped moving. With no way up, and the other option an uncontrolled descent, I simply stood there, rueing my foolishness.

The singer of Psalm 26, though finally anticipating standing upon a level place, does not start the song with an admission of guilt. He has done nothing to deserve his predicament, which seems to involve a life threatening situation (v9). He cries out   for justice, directing his plea to the one who is the guarantor of his life – the Lord in whom he has placed his whole trust – whose nature embodies love and truth (v3).  He begs for mercy (v9) appealing to the only one who knows his inner desire to serve God to the best of his ability. If the song is a plea for mercy, it is also a complaint.: not a resigned cry, but an act of hope which refuses to accept the way things are. Because of his faith, the singer lays bare his inmost feelings about ‘those who hate your way’(v9) , and refuses to be lumped with those who deserve God’s punishment.

It is easy for us to baulk at such open complaint and assertion of innocence. Few of us have such an unfettered faith in our own blamelessness, so we address God much more cautiously. Even though deep in our hearts we may want to be totally honest with God we hold back from complete frankness (even though we admit God knows us better than we know ourselves). Such is our foolishness, and such is the strength of the psalmist, unhindered by such sophistry.

As for my ‘short cut’, well, by dint of changing the way I climbed (crab wise) , eventually I did reach level ground, and I did thank God.

 

Prayer

Gracious God
thank you for the directness and honesty
of the psalmist of old,
who trusted you enough
to complain, and hope
in your love and truth.
May we be courageous in living,
trusting for future days in your Son,
who comes to us as a baby,
our Saviour, friend and brother. Amen

Today’s Writer

The Revd John Young is a retired minister of the Synod of Scotland and a member of Giffnock URC.

Bible Version

 

Sing Psalms,
Psalmody and Praise Committee
Free Church of Scotland
15 North Bank Street
Edinburgh
EH1 2LS

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