Hello, I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray with Me”.
Psalm 26 starts, “Vindicate me, O Lord.” The word “vindicate” is a complex word with a simple meaning. Here’s a story to help us find the meaning.
Writer Ruben Navarette, Jr., a Hispanic American, attended Harvard law school. After graduating, he decided he’d rather be a struggling writer than a successful lawyer, so he abandoned law to become a freelance writer. His father was angry and disappointed watching him struggle as a writer when he could have been rich and successful. Navarette says two events vindicated his decision. First, after nine years of struggling poverty, he got a good job at the Arizona Republic. That affirmed him as a writer. And on a trip home, his doubting father introduced him by saying, “That’s my boy. He’s a writer.”
How sweet to be vindicated: to have a difficult decision finally work out well, to see our struggle as more than a string of meaningless sufferings. How sweet to lose the shame we felt when it looked like life was going off the rails, to have our good work and good reputation recognized and appreciated.
That’s the heart of the poet’s cry in Psalm 26. “Vindicate me, O Lord” (v. 1). For most of the psalm, he supplies God (and us) with the reasons he deserves to be vindicated:
– His life has been blameless (v. 1)
– He has trusted God and not faltered (v. 1)
– He doesn’t associate with deceivers, hypocrites, or the wicked (vv. 4-5)
– He loves going to God’s house (v. 8)
Interesting, isn’t it, that the poet does not believe his life will vindicate itself. He requires vindication from God. It’s not just the happy outcome he wants. He wants relationship with God, he wants God’s approval. It is important to him that God see and accept him.
Our father, we try to live right. We read our Bible and pray. We go to church and give money to good causes.We are honest in our dealings. We drive the speed limit or only a bit over, we do our civic duty, we vote and pay our taxes. We reduce our use of plastic, we recycle paper and other stuff. If we haven’t been friendly to our neighbours, at least we have been civil to them, which we hope meets the minimum standard for “Love your neighbour as yourself.”
Our father, despite all this, we do not feel vindicated. Our lives do not burn with love. Our hearts resist the deep purifying work of your spirit. You offer us a large life, but we are content with smallness.
Father, we need you to vindicate us. If we try harder to be good, it is never good enough. If we take on more work for you, we only resent it. We are not spiritually strong enough to seek you in fasting and prayer as we ought.
Vindicate us, Lord. We have been faithful where we can. But only when you come to us in love, only when you forgive our sins, only when you overlook our smallness and show us mercy will we hear you say, “Well done.” That is the only outcome we care about in our troubled lives. Accept our hearts and our service.Receive our small offerings. “Vindicate us, O Lord, for we trust in you.”
I’m Daniel on the channel “Pray with Me”.
Ruben Navarrette Jr. A Darker Shade of Crimson: Odyssey of a Harvard Chicano (New York: Bantam Books, 1994).
Ruben Navarrette Jr. Vindication, chapter in Canfield, Jack; Hansen, Mark Victor; Gardner, Bud Chicken Soup for the Writer’s Soul (California: Health Communications, Inc., 2000).