Lord Your Mercy is Before My Eyes

Search me, O LORD, and try me;
test my soul and my heart.
For your mercy is before my eyes,
and I walk in your truth.

Gather not my soul with those of sinners,
nor with men of blood my life.
On their hands are crimes,
and their right hands are full of bribes.

But I walk in integrity;
redeem me, and have mercy on me.
My foot stands on level ground;
in the assemblies I will bless the LORD.
(Psalm 26:2-3, 9-10, 11-12)

Scripture Study

A person is entirely blameless only when the Lord grants him forgiveness (Ps 25); but man can approach Him and properly argue his innocence without that being a form of arrogant self-justification. In the last analysis, it is left to the Lord, whose glory is in the temple (cf. Ps 24:7; 26:8) to deliver just sentence (cf. Ps 24:5; 26:1).

The author begins by asking the Lord to examine his thoughts and actions (vv. 1–2); then he reports them to God, arguing that he has kept true to the Lord (vv. 3–8); he ends by pleading that he should not suffer the fate of sinners and by promising to offer public praise to the Lord (vv. 9–12).

Only Jesus could pray this psalm without exaggerating, for only he could say that he always did what pleases the Father (cf. Jn 8:29). When Christians read the text, they cannot but become more conscious of what the call to holiness involves.

Scripture Reflection

Here the primary motif, is “walk in integrity”: unwavering trust and living in the light of the LORD’s steadfast love and faithfulness. Integrity is a quality of life lived out of that understanding where the love of God orders will and work. Such an integrity is not self-righteousness, a conviction of autonomous moral superiority based on one’s independent achievements. It is not legalism, conduct based simply on a checklist of requirements. It is, rather, the offer to God in prayer of a wholeness of religion that was demanded by the prophets and taught by Jesus.

Perhaps what gives us pause before the psalm is a serious hesitancy about describing ourselves favorably to God. But we need to remember what the prayer seeks—the vindicating decision of God in circumstances where life or vocation is accused or suspected by others. Times may and do come when we need the help of remembering that God knows the mind and heart, even if others don’t, and of believing that God will vindicate faithfulness even if the world does not. In the ordinary round of life, one can take this prayer as a challenge and goal of integrity. The description of integrity in the psalm is formulaic and ideal, but in the thinking of the psalm it is the necessary and achievable integrity—if we trust in the LORD “without wavering.”

– James Mays

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.