This week our ladies’ Bible study group is studying Psalm 26, which begins by asking the Lord to vindicate the psalmist who has been mistreated, misjudged and maligned by others who had previously been thought of as friends and family. Charles Swindoll says, “Such feelings (a friend who has turned against us due to a misunderstanding) grinds away at our peace so severely we wonder if we can continue. Whatever the mistreatment you are having to endure, please accept this dual warning: Don’t become bitter…Don’t let it undermine your relationship with God!”
The psalmist is crying out to God because those he thought he could trust were mistreating him and spoke about him wickedly. So David cried out, “Vindicate me, O Lord, for I have walked in my integrity, And I have trusted in the Lord without wavering. Examine me, O Lord, and try me; Test my mind and my heart. For Your lovingkindness is before my eyes, And I have walked in Your truth.” (Ps 26:1-3)
David is crying out to the Lord to help keep his eyes on the Lord and on how the Lord wants him to act during this hurtful and trying time. I was drawn to look back several psalms at another that David penned, “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.” (Ps 1:1-3)
David, a man after God’s heart, knew that his heart and mind could not meditate on God’s law day and night if he chose to listen to the advice of the wicked, stand with them and malign others along with them. David made a choice to follow God’s wisdom and not worldly wisdom. “I do not sit with deceitful men, Nor will I go with pretenders. I hate the assembly of evildoers, And I will not sit with the wicked.” (Ps 26:4-5)
David resisted the temptation to get even with his wicked maligners, and instead he sought God’s wisdom. The Lord who has purchased us at a great price (1 Cor 6:20), has a standard we are to seek to live by: “as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy’.” (1 Pet 1:15-16)
As part of his commitment to holiness, David sought not to have close association with known liars or hypocrites. David recognized the value of avoiding those steeped in sin (Prov 13:20). Jesus sent His followers into the world. But He did not tell them to copy the culture of the world. He prayed, “I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world” (John 17:15-16).
I can attest that it is painful when those we think of as friends gossip and malign us to others, or just stop talking to us. In our sinfulness, it’s natural to want to strike back. But Jesus prayed for us to stay above the worldly fray by keeping our eyes upon Him. This past weekend I spent time in prayer asking the Lord to take away my hurt feelings (which has me looking at others and myself) and instead to look to Him for guidance.
There’s truly no better way to release angry or hurtful feelings than by praising the Lord and asking for His deliverance. “Oh, send out Your light and Your truth! Let them lead me; Let them bring me to Your holy hill and to Your tabernacle. Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy; And on the harp I will praise You, O God, my God.” (Ps 43:3-4)
I’m reminded of a song that I sing over and over again to remind myself that “we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Rom 8:28). It won’t always feel good, but we must trust that He uses circumstances to refine us for His purposes.
Even if His blessings come through raindrops and His healing comes through tears… What if trials of this life–the rain, the storms, the hardest nights–Are His mercies in disguise that drive us to our knees to spend time in His holy presence? Thank You, Lord, for always listening to my pain and guiding me toward Your Word and away from worldly wisdom!