Examined by Yahweh
(H) (A psalm) of David. (1) Vindicate me, Yahweh, for I have walked in my integrity and have trusted in Yahweh without wavering. (2) Examine me, Yahweh, and try me. Test my mind (lit. kidneys) and my heart, (3) for your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I have walked in your truth. (4) I do not sit with deceitful men, nor do I associate with hypocrites. (5) I despise the company of evildoers and will not sit with the wicked. (6) I wash my hands in innocence and approach your altar, Yahweh, (7) that I may proclaim thanksgiving aloud and tell of all your wondrous works. (8) Yahweh, I love the sanctuary of your house, the place where your glory dwells.
David opens this psalm with four synonyms for evaluation, asking Yahweh to “vindicate” him (vs. 1), to “examine,” “try,” and “test” his inner motives (vs. 2). In the ancient world, two internal organs were considered the sites where human intellect and emotion were physically located, the kidneys and the heart (vs. 2). Two more body parts are also mentioned. First, the eyes provide us with images of God’s steadfast love (vs. 3). Then, the hands which require washing remind us that before engaging in worship we must be cleansed of sin (vs. 6).
In establishing his integrity before Yahweh, David uses four synonyms for transgressors: “deceitful men” and “hypocrites” (vs. 4), “evildoers” and “the wicked” (vs. 5). Two more repetitions suggest to us the message of this opening segment of the psalm: “walk,” a word David used to describe his behavior (vss. 1 & 3), and “sit,” indicating David's refusal to fellowship with evildoers (vss. 4 & 5).
I. Inviting Yahweh to test my character (1-3)
II. Integrity is what he will find. (4-8)
When tested by Yahweh, we should be found avoiding the ways of the wicked and delighting to worship in his presence.
Students, whether in high school or university, are always relieved when they complete their final examinations at the end of the semester. They look forward both to the Christmas holidays and to summer vacations when they can take a break and be freed, at least for a while, from the responsibilities of course work. While our walk with God is never like a high school science course or a semester of university study, we still need to undergo periodic examinations to determine whether we are growing in godliness while continuing to follow in the paths of righteousness.
David, while meditating on his relationship with God in this psalm, invited Yahweh to examine his life, particularly the motivations of his heart which governed his actions. His desire was to be both blameless (nothing hidden from view) and faithful (dependent upon God). David mentioned two areas of particular concern, namely, relationships with those who reject God and devotion to Yahweh in worship. He desired to keep far from the influence of those who could turn his heart away from God and remain faithful in submitting himself to Yahweh. Like David, we should strive to be aware of our own sinful tendencies and hold ourselves accountable to God’s scrutiny, especially in regard to the motives of our hearts that determine our actions.