After my initial reading of Psalm 26 I had a little thought, wondering if King David would have been diagnosed as bipolar had he been in today’s world. I don’t say that as any sort of slight on anyone, it was just a wondering. Of course, no such conclusions can be gathered from his writings but they sure go through the extremes of feeling really low about life right through to the highs. Psalm 26 could be read either way; it all depends on where he was coming from. But the message is clear, he wanted God to notice his faithfulness.
The Psalm could have been written from a perspective of feeling good about himself and wanting God to notice, or maybe he felt like he was on shaky ground and wanted to talk up the good he had done in the face of it. I read the whole thing as a request to be vindicated and delivered – a request for mercy.
What I like about Psalm 26 is that it flies in the face of theologies that say we shouldn’t see ourselves as anything other than filthy sinners (desperately in need of grace in the face of an angry God). David’s plea to God in this Psalm isn’t about saying ‘look how bad I am, save me’. Instead he’s pointing out how well he believes he’s done in his two way relationship with the divine. He’s saying ‘God, I’ve worked hard at this, I’ve stayed faithful and I love you, so have mercy on me.’ It’s a fair call and I reckon our thinking should have room to recognise that we’re doing ok.
You see, I believe that when we step into the saving grace of Christ we’re no longer defined by whatever we were, but we become new creations. Sure, we’ll still stuff up from time to time, but that’s not who we are, we’re not mastered by those things. I’m a slave to righteousness, not to sin (Romans 6). There’s room to recognise that.
David’s belief still places God as number one and it’s still God he’s relying on. It’s God that is the foundation and seat of his life, so he’s not placing himself on a pedestal, but he doesn’t think so poorly of himself that he can’t see the focused pursuit of his life and hope that God sees it too.
I would have loved to have been able to hear David read it Psalm 26 loud to hear whether it was a plea or just a humble statement couched in a request. It’s a Psalm where verbal tone could change the whole sense of where it was coming from. What do you think?
Read more of my reflections on the Psalms.
Here’s why I’m walking this journey through the Psalms.