Read Psalm 26.
“Vindicate me, LORD, for I have led a blameless life” (Psalm 26:1). That’s how David begins. And I have a hard time believing he could utter these words without his knees buckling.
I can’t imagine standing before the Lord and actually asking Him to justify me based on the life I’ve lived. I know, all too well, that I deserve to be judged, condemned, and cast far from His presence. I have not led a blameless life. I have sinned, fallen short, distorted God’s image within me. I have broken commandments and chased after other gods. At times, I have had a divided heart. I have not always loved my neighbor as myself, nor loved God with all of my heart, mind, soul, and strength.
I am a sinner, saved by grace. Any blamelessness in me is from Jesus.
I am not alone. Elsewhere in the Psalms, David is clear about his sin. He confesses his failings and imperfections freely. (See Psalm 32 and Psalm 51 for some good examples.) But in Psalm 26, there is no mention of any shortcomings. If we were to read this psalm in isolation from the rest of Scripture, we would have to conclude that the man who wrote it was unlike us, wholly different, free from the curse that weighs us down. In fact, the only person who could stand before God with a straight face and utter these words is Jesus.
Bible scholars and quick to note that the Hebrew word translated “blameless” here and elsewhere does not imply sinlessness, but rather wholehearted devotion to God. David himself reveals this when he says, “Test me, LORD, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness” (vv. 2–3, emphasis added). It’s God’s love and God’s faithfulness that have given David a clean heart and mind.
David’s loyalty to God is what gave him the confidence to know he could stand before the Lord and be viewed as blameless. And that’s nothing new. In Genesis, we read, “Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness” (15:6). It has always been faith that justifies sinful human beings. It’s why loyalty to Yahweh counts more than outward signs of piety. It’s why Jesus responded to faith and bristled at religiosity. And it’s why David was considered a man after God’s own heart, despite his moral failures.
It’s been speculated that Psalm 26 was sung by Israelites prior to entering the temple complex for worship. Today, we don’t need to go to a specific point on the map to draw near to God. The Father is now worshiped in spirit and in truth (John 4:23). Every believer is a temple, the Holy Spirit having taken up residence in our mortal bodies. Yet, the very fact that we can draw near to the Lord is as much a miracle now as it was in ancient Israel. God welcomes sinners who come in faith.
Because Jesus was truly blameless, we can be too. And we can sing, without fear of our knees buckling. “My feet stand on level ground; in the great congregation I will praise the LORD” (Psalm 26:12).