A Message from Psalm 26
for I have acted with integrity;
I have trusted in the Lord without wavering.
2 Put me on trial, Lord, and cross-examine me.
Test my motives and my heart.
3 For I am always aware of your unfailing love,
and I have lived according to your truth.
4 I do not spend time with liars
or go along with hypocrites.
5 I hate the gatherings of those who do evil,
and I refuse to join in with the wicked.
6 I wash my hands to declare my innocence.
I come to your altar, O Lord,
7 singing a song of thanksgiving
and telling of all your wonders.
8 I love your sanctuary, Lord,
the place where your glorious presence dwells.
9 Don’t let me suffer the fate of sinners.
Don’t condemn me along with murderers.
10 Their hands are dirty with evil schemes,
and they constantly take bribes.
11 But I am not like that; I live with integrity.
So redeem me and show me mercy.
12 Now I stand on solid ground,
and I will publicly praise the Lord.
[New Living Translation]
Music: Vindicate Me, O Lord (Psalm 26)
The author of this poem seems to be convinced of his own righteousness. The author is screaming this to God, but who is this author who says to God that he is faultless? What arrogance! Of course, no one can say that he or she is completely immaculate like this. Unfortunately we are all imperfect. Despite his ego, the author seems to understand that he would not be able to "stand on a flat road" without the "mercy" and "redemption" of God.
Let us go back to the author's heart. He pleaded with the sinner not to take his life. "Please have mercy" is a phrase that a sinner would shout to God in hope of forgiveness. In the Gospel of Luke in the New Testament, it appears in chapters 17 and 18. The Samaritans, who are suffering from leprosy, screamed at Jesus, "Jesus, Master, have pity on us!" Later, a blind man sitting on the side of the road screams. Both are people who were considered sinners abandoned by God in their society at the time. The screams of those people are being echoed by the author of this
poem. He was saying that he had walked a perfect path, but in truth he is a sinner who must be forgiven. When we reflect on our daily lives, we should never think that the people around us are all bad people or inferior.
Shouldn’t we rather sympathise with them? Am I exempt from God's justice? We will be examined. He also cried out for redemption. To be redeemed is to be forgiven by paying a ransom and releasing it, or offering a sacrifice. In Greek, the word λυτρόω (redeem) is used.
We, humankind, were redeemed by Christ offering his life and dying on the cross for us. In the words of the Psalms, I think it may be said that we were forgiven through the sacrifice of Christ, and released from the burden of having to "walk the perfect path." In order for us to "walk the perfect path" we must be mercifully redeemed from the rule of sin. Unless God’s sinless only child is forsaken by God Himself and forgiven of sins only through "judgment," one can never "walk the perfect path." (Don't take the perfect path literally here. It doesn't mean the completeness of living sinlessly and in the will of God.)
Christianity may be misunderstood by people who are not Christians as a group of arrogant religious people, who
believe that they are the only ones who are saved by God and live an innocent life, but this is by no means true. I know that some Christians criticize each other for focusing on politics. Or some people believe that the ultimate way of faith is to get away from their worldly anxieties and regain their relationship with God. But I am not a minister in that position. What I believe is that we should think about what the first priority is in the various chaotic, inconsistent societies living in this world. We have to bring the world that God wants to realisation, not seeking only for personal fulfillment but exploring how we can cooperate with each other and live and thrive as a community.
Brothers and Sisters! Do you think it is good for us that we build our faith only in ourselves or in our peers? I'd like to make a better society together with people from all religions and with all ideologies. It does not mean that we would join hands with evil.
Remember that when Jesus entered the world, it was filled with evil! But He never did sin. Instead He made us aware of the love of the Kingdom of God by loving us and comforting us, and even behaving as a servant. Let us give thanks to Jesus who heals us and gives us the lasting salvation of God forever!
Let us share the Lord's Supper together.