In Psalm 26, David is looking to the Lord for vindication. He begins and ends this psalm declaring that he has led a blameless life. We know that David did not live a sinless life, and we know that the Bible tells us through the apostle John that, “if anyone claims to be without sin he is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” So what did David mean and why was he declaring that he lived a blameless life? We realize that in reading this psalm, David was not claiming a sinless life. He was endeavoring to live the kind of life he should live in order to be aware of the presence of God; to live a life that was centered upon the Lord and His keeping-strength.
There’s a list of things we find in this psalm that characterize what David meant when he said that he lived a blameless life: he declares that he has trusted in the Lord and has not faltered; that he has always been mindful of the Lord’s unfailing love; that he has lived in reliance on God’s faithfulness. David also reveals that he has drawn boundaries around his life and those boundaries determine who will affect him, influence him, with whom he will have company, and who he will not allow into his life. He declares, “I do not sit with the deceitful, I do not associate with hypocrites, I abhor the assembly of evildoers, I refuse to sit with the wicked.”
He also declares that he washes his hands in innocence and goes about the altar of the Lord. In other words, David comes before the Lord for cleansing, for sanctification. He wants the Lord to produce holiness and righteousness within his life, so he draws near to the altar of God for washing. He also declares that he comes into the Lord’s presence, and proclaims aloud the Lord’s praise, telling of all His wonderful deeds. He further declares that he loves the house where the Lord lives and the place where His glory dwells. David does not just say prayers. That characterizes the interaction of many Christians with God: they say a prayer. But as David has already described, he seeks the place of the altar; he seeks to come into a place of deep interaction with God that is based upon the work of Jesus Christ. He seeks to experience the effect of being in the Lord’s presence, the effect of God working in his heart. David is not content to just say a prayer, he wants to come into the depth of experiencing God’s presence. He gives us a further description in Psalm 27.4,
“One thing I desire, this I will pursue: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His holy temple.”
David wants more that just a prayer — David wants the presence of God! So he presses past all that he might be feeling, all that might be limitations for him, to draw near to the Lord in such a way that he experiences the Lord’s presence.
David comes back to pleading with the Lord to be his rescue because this is the kind of life that he has lived. This has been the pattern of his life and he declares once again,
“I lead a blameless life, deliver me and be merciful to me.”
He ends with this statement:
“My feet stand on level ground; in the great congregation I will praise the Lord.”
It’s a significant statement that David is making. He is declaring that everything that he does, that this pattern for living — this pattern of a blameless life (a life of discipleship, to use a New Testament term) that David practices everyday — brings him to a place of spiritual and emotional stability: “My feet stand on level ground.” That description is in contrast with the description that Asaph makes in Psalm 73, where he declares that the feet of the wicked — or those who have no time for God, those who do not acknowledge God — are on a slippery slope and at any moment their feet could go out from under them and their life would be utter ruin. In contrast to being on this slippery slope, David says, “My feet stand on level ground. There is a solid place where I am standing. There is stability for me.” David has learned the secret of Psalm 89:15,
“Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim You, who walk in the light of Your presence.”
David has learned how to walk in the light of the Lord’s presence, how to acclaim the Lord and thus experience the stabilizing effect of God’s presence in his life. David put boundaries around his life. David has specific pursuits, he has a focus on the Lord’s unfailing love and the Lord’s constant faithfulness. He practices reliance upon God and trusting in Him. He pursues the presence of the Lord past just an elementary prayer time; he seeks the face of God and seeks to experience the effect of God’s presence on his life. Therefore he is able to say, “My feet stand on level ground.”
David monitors who and what will have influence upon him. There are people, activities, and environments that David shuts out of his life because they have a negative effect. There are people who are ungodly: they don’t have the spirit of the Lord, they speak from a sinful spirit rather than a righteous spirit. David draws the line, puts up a wall, and will not allow those people or those things to have a place in his life. As a result of all of this, David is able to say, “My feet stand on level ground. I am in a place of spiritual, emotional, mental stability. My feet stand on level ground.” In the words of Paul to the Colossians, David was practicing what it means to
“set your heart on things above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above and not on earthly things.”
He continues later in that chapter,
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, always giving thanks to the Lord.”
These are things that David practiced everyday — which we could call effective or appropriate Christ-like discipleship, or that we could characterize from John 15 as what it means to abide in the Lord, to remain in Him. As a result David said, “This enables me to stand on level ground. I’m not shaken. I’m not undermined. I’m not stumbling. I’m not restless. I’m in a place of stability, experiencing the Lord’s presence, my heart at rest in Him, confident in Him, and knowing that I have done everything to set my heart on the Lord. Therefore I can look to Him to help me, to vindicate me, to deliver me.” Oh, that we would learn this secret of blameless discipleship! Of walking in the light of the Lord’s presence, of learning to acclaim Him so that we, too, are able to experience the stability and peace that the Lord’s presence brings to us.
May the word of the Lord encourage our hearts and strengthen us, and fill us with joy and peace as we seek the presence of the Lord.