Psalm 26 - My foot stands on level ground

Vindicate me, O Lord, for I have walked in my integrity, and I have trusted in the Lord without wavering.
Prove me, O Lord, and try me; test my heart and mind.
For your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in faithfulness to you.
I do not sit with the worthless, nor do I consort with hypocrites;
I hate the company of evildoers, and will not sit with the wicked.
I wash my hands in innocence, and go around your altar, O Lord,
singing aloud a song of thanksgiving, and telling all your wondrous deeds.
O Lord, I love the house in which you dwell, and the place where your glory abides.
Do not sweep me away with sinners, nor my life with the bloodthirsty,
those in whose hands are evil devices, and whose right hands are full of bribes.
But as for me, I walk in my integrity; redeem me, and be gracious to me.
My foot stands on level ground; in the great congregation I will bless the Lord.

Psalm 26 (NRSV)
Proper 17, Year A, verses 1-8, Sunday between August 28 and September 3
Proper 22, Year B, Sunday between October 2 and October 8

This text brings forward a common theme found in many psalms: vindication. The person giving voice to these words has some problems with their standing, their place in the community. While we do not know the whys or wherefores, the psalmist views him/herself in the right and is bothered by enmity or social stigma generated by nameless others. If not by the wicked themselves, then from those who are ok with the company of evildoers, and find it desirable or at least socially necessary to consort with hypocrites.

Just want you to know, Lord, that I am not like those folks. I love your Temple. I am in awe of your glory. I am not ashamed to sing of your greatness and testify to your wonder-working power.

More importantly, "I walk in my integrity"... Now we do not know how far "my" integrity goes, if this claim is rock solid true, aspirational, or self-deluded.

But if we put those words on our lips, we do well if we are standing on level ground. The approach to God (and to others) is better made if we are whole of heart.

The psalm, though, does have a certain take about what integrity is. It probably does include the virtues of honest and fair-dealing. The psalmist is not in the close company of the wicked, and their hands are not grasping onto evil devices and blood money. Whole or not, this prayer is open to to "feedback": Try me, O Lord, test my heart and mind.

But the level ground seems to have more to do with trusting in the Lord without wavering, being able to stand upright before the great congregation and sing aloud a song of thanksgiving, blessing the Lord. "For your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in faithfulness to you." That is solid ground. That is a style of walking which makes it hard to stumble.

Uncredited, Hiking boots.


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