Summary: The world is hostile to God and His people. It was to David, son of Jesse, also. How did he face spiritual opposition and what can we learn for the battle we are called to fight today?
I read something this week that reinforced a conviction that has been growing in my mind over the past several months. What I read was a news item about a plaque that has been taken away from a tourist centre at the Grand Canyon in the USA.
Have any of you been to the Grand Canyon?
It’s pretty impressive, isn’t it?
I’ve only seen it from the air - flying from St Louis to LA one day. I had no idea that something that was 9 or 10 thousand metres below me could look so massive, so glorious. It is the most amazing expanse of colour and texture that I have ever seen. I knew then why it was called “Grand”.
You’d think, wouldn’t you, that a plaque which said:
“How many are your works, O Lord!
In wisdom you made them all”
would be entirely appropriate. That a quote like this, from Psalm 104:24, would not give rise to any public controversy. There certainly wasn’t forty years ago when the plaque was placed there.
These days things are different. The story I read this week tells of how the quote from the Psalms had to be removed because it is no longer acceptable to display such “dangerous, sectarian thoughts” on public property! I kid you not. What has the world come to if it is not only socially unacceptable, but “dangerous” to say in public that God made the Grand Canyon?
Generally, over my lifetime at least, most of our society has accepted the church as a positive social influence. Even if they disagreed with much of what we believe, people didn’t mind having us around to do good works. Forty years ago there was no problem with putting a plaque that mentioned God on the tourist centre at the Grand Canyon.
But not today. Today our society is saying to us: “You keep your God and your beliefs away from us. Such ideas are unconstitutional; such ideas are dangerous.”
Do you hear the message in that? More and more, the world around us is telling us that it thinks that we, the church, followers of Jesus Christ, are a danger to society. The popular call for “tolerance” does not extend to those who wish to proclaim the name of God, the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. They are no longer saying, “we disagree with you, but you’re good people who we are happy to live with.” No – the message is now: “you and your ideas are dangerous.”
Admittedly, I’m pressing the point a bit here. Lest you think I’m pressing it too far, let me stress that I don’t think that what I’ve just talked about is the most common attitude towards Christians in Australia, nor even in the USA. But it IS becoming more prevalent and has taken a strong hold on law-making and public policy in America. And read some of our newspapers closely – you’ll clearly see this attitude coming through.
Into this atmosphere, the same Psalms that are being removed from the Grand Canyon speak to us – or rather, through them, God speaks to us. None more so than our passage for today, Psalm 26. This passage shares with us a prayer and the accompanying meditations of a man of God who was being accused of being a danger to his society simply because he obeyed the Lord God.
David, the son of Jesse, often felt the threat of a hostile world, especially during the period between his anointing as the future king of Israel and his enthronement to that office. Often men would falsely accuse him of seeking to undermine the first king, Saul, and therefore the nation. This was despite the fact that his own actions in sparing Saul’s life proved otherwise.
When faced with hostility from a world opposed to God and His purposes, David would come before the Lord in prayer. That is the first lesson for us from such a passage – to be people of prayer, people who don’t try to sort out their issues without discussing them intimately with God first.
This is what David does in Psalm 26,where we see him appealing to God as the righteous judge. He asks for “vindication”. What does this mean? What’s David really asking for here?
I believe that what he’s asking for is that God would declare him to be innocent of the things he was being accused of. His concern wasn’t merely personal. He’d been anointed king; accusations that he was acting against God were intended to prevent him being seated on the throne; they were trying to stop God’s plan being carried out.
On what basis does he appeal to God for this vindication?
Firstly, he knew the reality of his own heart. When he says, “I have led a blameless life”, he isn’t saying he is perfectly sinless. We know from elsewhere in the Bible, including several other Psalms, that David couldn’t and didn’t make that claim. I think that all he is saying there is that he has genuinely sought to serve God and the kingdom and that he cannot be accused of treachery as his enemies were doing.