Psalm 26: Judgment and Vindication   Leave a comment

READING THE BOOK OF PSALMS

PART XX

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Psalm 26

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Psalm 26 bears striking similarities to Psalms 1 and 25.  The placement of this tex as Psalm 26 makes sense as a follow-up to Psalm 25.  However, Psalm 26 is a purely individual lament.

The psalmist is perplexed.  He had assumed, as Job’s alleged friends did, that God rewards the righteous and punishes the wicked.  Yet the psalmist’s situation belies or seems to belie that theological position.  Whether he requests a divine judgment or divine vindication depends on the interpreter/translator.  Mitchell J. Dahood asserts that no vindication was necessary, for the psalmist, assured of his integrity, sought divine recognition of it.  Robert Alter follows Dahood’s position.  Yet TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures renders the germane verb as “vindicate,” as in, to grant the reward for righteousness.

Despite the Reformed insistence that human beings are damnable creatures by our corrupted nature, the Book of Psalms holds a higher opinion of people.  We are a little less than divine–or as a familiar translation of Psalm 8 says,

a little lower than the angels.

This position is consistent with the image of God (Genesis 1:27).  So, the Jewish and Roman Catholic assertions of human merit hold theological water.

We mere mortals still know far less than God does.  Our “received wisdom” and inherited theological orthodoxy do not always match our circumstances.  Will reality override a theory, or will we double-down in ideology?  That is a matter we have the power decide for ourselves.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

THE THIRD DAY OF CHRISTMAS

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN THE EVANGELIST

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