I don’t like poetry. Never have. The best day of every year in grade school was the day we completed the poetry segment in language arts. The worst day was the day we had to exercise our own poetic skills for the whole class to see. I’ve just never had an appreciation for it as an art form. Therefore, it’s probably no surprise that I don’t pay too much attention to the Psalms. I love Genesis as the ultimate history book. I love Romans as the supreme example of logical theological argument. I read each with a sense of wonder. The Psalms? I’m probably one of the only Christians on Earth who’d rather read Deuteronomy. Yet, when my arm is twisted to read them, passages from the Psalms sometimes catch my eye.
Vindicate me, O LORD, for I have led a blameless life; Psalm 26:1
I wash my hands in innocence, and go about your altar, O LORD, Psalm 26:6
Do not take away my soul along with sinners, my life with bloodthirsty men, Psalm 26:9
Blameless? Innocent? Separated from sinners as if he were above them? DAVID??? This is the man who brought us the near-murder of Nabal and the completed murder of Uriah, the serial adulterer whose list of wives and concubines had no end, the king whose pride cost 70,000 of his subjects their lives (2 Samuel 24), and the father who appears to have neglected nearly every commandment concerning parenting that God ever provided. It would take a lot of growth for me to be even a tenth of the man of God David was, but blameless and innocent are not words I equate with him.
I read David’s Psalms and sometimes forget he composed them not at the end of his life, but over his lifetime. Some commentators state that Psalm 26 was written as a young man being hunted by Saul, before his epic failures. That would explain some things, I suppose, but God didn’t choose to include any justifying context here in the scripture itself. The same God who inspired the scripture passages documenting David’s great sins inspired this Psalm that labels the man as blameless.
…because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. Hebrews 10:14
But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— Colossians 1:22
What a difference an atrocity committed on a cross can make!
David’s view of himself as revealed in Psalm 26 may not have been true when he wrote the words, but they reveal a prophetic view of his coming redemption. Incredibly, the same sacrifice that made David blameless and innocent has made me equally so! When examining the ten commandments as Jesus explained them during the Sermon on the Mount, I see that I’ve broken every one of them many times over. I have a perfect track record in that I haven’t met a single one of God’s expectations for me. Yet, like David, I can state with confidence that I am entirely blameless and innocent. The fact that I rarely feel that way is simply an indication that I still don’t see myself as God sees me.
If I had no other reason to believe the truth of the Bible, I would believe it for this reason alone: No human would ever have the audacity to invent such claims.
Happy Palm Sunday everyone!