1 Vindicate me, Lord, for I have led a blameless life; I have trusted in the Lord and have not faltered. 2 Test me, Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; 3 for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness.
4 I do not sit with the deceitful, nor do I associate with hypocrites. 5 I abhor the assembly of evildoers and refuse to sit with the wicked. 6 I wash my hands in innocence, and go about your altar, Lord, 7 proclaiming aloud your praise and telling of all your wonderful deeds.
8 Lord, I love the house where you live, the place where your glory dwells. 9 Do not take away my soul along with sinners, my life with those who are bloodthirsty, 10 in whose hands are wicked schemes, whose right hands are full of bribes. 11 I lead a blameless life; deliver me and be merciful to me.
12 My feet stand on level ground; in the great congregation I will praise the Lord.
"Vindicate" means a few things: 1) toclear,asfromanaccusation,imputation,suspicion,orthelike. 2) toaffordjustificationfor;justify. 3) toupholdorjustifybyargumentorevidence. 4) toassert,maintain,ordefend(aright,cause,etc.)againstopposition.
I think in this psalm David is speaking about some combination of those. He was one under constant attack, as many of the psalms divulge, with seemingly perpetual enemies. Even when his greatest adversary, Saul, was gone, David eventually became his own adversary through his infamous affair with Bathsheba, and subsequent murder. I'm not sure if Psalm 26 was written in the midst of that, but other psalms were for sure, and even after his greatest folly was made known, David still claimed vindication.
Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit. (Psalm 32:1)
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions...Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice...Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. (Psalm 51:1, 7-8, 12)
It would have been easy for David to wallow in self-pity, doubt, or even genuine regret; but he knew that forgiveness from God led to joy, and he even asked God for it in the midst of his darkest moment. I know personally, I wouldn't feel worthy of joy at such a time and would most definitely not ask God for it. Still, David does. Why?
Psalm 26 gives a few indicators of what a vindicated life looks like, the test of whether or not one is living like a vindicated person.
I have trusted in the LORD without wavering. Test me, O LORD, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; for your love is ever before me, and I walk continually in your truth. (Psalm 26:1b-3)
Trust in the Lord. Led by His love. Walking in truth. These are the indicators of a blameless life. And what do they lead to? According to verses 6-8, when David knows that he is vindicated, he is free to praise God, approaching His altar with confidence that he will not be condemned. He can also make known God's glory, recounting his "wonderful deeds." Furthermore, he can enjoy God's presence, which was found, at the time, in His tabernacle.
As I read this, I couldn't help but examine my own life to see whether or not I exemplify any of these traits. And if I don't, why not? We are indeed forgiven, and God's presence is available everywhere through the Holy Spirit. So why don't I live that way daily?
After doing some research (and having written about the topic before), some key components to living this way are confession, speaking scripture out loud and repentance. And I would argue that speaking, or claiming, scripture that proves we are forgiven plays a more important role than we realize.
Words are powerful. Everything that was created was spoken into existence. The bible says our words have the power of life and death. And so it seems clear that we ought to really examine our words and inject them with life and truth, which are found in scripture (If you can't think of any, a simple google search can provide scriptures that apply to your personal situation). Maybe then we can claim the deliverance and mercy of God that David writes about in verse 11.
Perhaps David was called a man after God's heart because he understood these principles, and despite the gravity of his sin, was able to live exonerated, joy-filled and free to experience God. With Christ's work already finished, we have no excuse but to do the same.