Psalm 26 (NRSV)
1 Vindicate me, O Lord,
for I have walked in my integrity,
and I have trusted in the Lord without wavering.
2 Prove me, O Lord, and try me;
test my heart and mind.
3 For your steadfast love is before my eyes,
and I walk in faithfulness to you.
4 I do not sit with the worthless,
nor do I consort with hypocrites;
5 I hate the company of evildoers,
and will not sit with the wicked.
6 I wash my hands in innocence,
and go around your altar, O Lord,
7 singing aloud a song of thanksgiving,
and telling all your wondrous deeds.
8 O Lord, I love the house in which you dwell,
and the place where your glory abides.
9 Do not sweep me away with sinners,
nor my life with the bloodthirsty,
10 those in whose hands are evil devices,
and whose right hands are full of bribes.
11 But as for me, I walk in my integrity;
redeem me, and be gracious to me.
12 My foot stands on level ground;
in the great congregation I will bless the Lord.
If David actually wrote this psalm, and wrote “I have walked in my integrity”, it is hard to take him seriously. Hence the following stanzas, written in Scots because our country is indeed ‘three-voiced’.
If Davie gat tae screivin wirds like thase writing
lang wirds lik integritie, an nae jist yince,
he maun hae thocht himsel agen a laddie. must
Nae a gang leader, wi bluid on is hauns.
Nae a guerilla fechter, teuch an gleg, tough and smart
playin aff yin agin the ither a the time.
Nae a king wi a gled ee, wha spuliet roving eye plundered
anither’s wife, and kilt hir guidman husband
tho he wis his ain aefauld sodger. loyal
Nae a stickit faither, yin wha coudna
dale the richt wey wi the bairns e hid. children
At the same time, we can — just — imagine him writing a psalm like this when he was on the run from King Saul, innocent of the rebellion he was charged with, longing for God. Remember that the ‘temple’, or house of God, in the Old Testament is not simply a place of worship, it is the command centre from where God controls the universe. David appeals to this God – prove me (verse 2). His loyalty to God burns even stronger than his indignation against those who persecuted him.
One of the many ways that the Old Testament prepares the ground for the New is the way it brings God down to earth. While as Solomon knew, the heaven of heavens cannot contain God, yet God delighted in the created order and is glad to be present there, both in the wonder of an evolving world, and in the architecture of a specific church. It is great to have a place of worship to love (v8), and fellow believers to cherish (v12), provided we also love the greater temple of the universe and the people who live outside our circle of faith.
O God, you value integrity, and we will be whole when your gentle fire burns away our sin.
We value worship, and give thanks for lovely buildings and freedom to worship.
Look kindly on those whose life journey has cut them off from people and places they love, for Jesus’ sake, Amen.