Telling God stories—Psalm 26

Psalms of David

Psalms in Book 1 (Psalms 1 to 41) are primarily personal songs, so I will look at how they apply to us personally. Social and communal aspects of life and work do not come in until the later books of Psalms.

I loved the book “The Singer” by Calvin Miller, but I gave it away. A friend asked to borrow it, and worrying about his reliability I prayed. God’s answer was that should lend it, but that it would not be returned. I never found what result came from giving that book away. I loved that book but I have no regrets about how I came to lose it.

A father reads a story to his young child.
Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on

The books of Psalms are roughly themed like this:

Book 1: Psalms 1 – 41: God is beside us.
Book 2: Psalms 42 – 72: God goes before us
Book 3: Psalms 73 – 89: God is all around us.
Book 4: Psalms 90 – 106: God is above us.
Book 5: Psalms 107 – 150: God is among us.

Of David.

26 Vindicate me, O Lord,
    for I have walked in my integrity,
    and I have trusted in the Lord without wavering.
Prove me, O Lord, and try me;
    test my heart and my mind.
For your steadfast love is before my eyes,
    and I walk in your faithfulness.

I do not sit with men of falsehood,
    nor do I consort with hypocrites.
I hate the assembly of evildoers,
    and I will not sit with the wicked.

I wash my hands in innocence
    and go round your altar, O Lord,

proclaiming thanksgiving aloud,
    and telling all your wondrous deeds.

O Lord, I love the habitation of your house
    and the place where your glory dwells.

Do not sweep my soul away with sinners,
    nor my life with bloodthirsty men,
10 in whose hands are evil devices,
    and whose right hands are full of bribes.

11 But as for me, I shall walk in my integrity;
    redeem me, and be gracious to me.
12 My foot stands on level ground;
    in the great assembly I will bless the Lord.

Psalm 26 ESVUK with paragraph breaks to reveal the poetic structure

The singer is subtitled A Classic Retelling of Cosmic Conflict and is an allegorical poem telling the story of Christ. It is most famous because Jon Anderson, singer of the Progressive Rock band Yes read The Singer and wrote the song Awaken inspired by it. The reason I say this is because the same album, Going for the One, contains a song called Wonderous Stories, which also has links to the poetry of The Singer.

My shortened Lectio Divina on this passage came up with “Telling all your wondrous stories.” Just two readings due to time restraints, but when I looked at the structure of the song I realised I had got it spot on. This is the centre of the song: The structure of this song, like the majority of psalms, is a chiasm, a form that introduces themes and repeats them in reverse order.

Theme 1: Walking in integrity (vv 1-3 & 11-12)
Theme2: Comparison with Sinners (vv 4-5 & 9-10)
Theme 3: God’s altar/house (vv 6 & 8)
Central section: Proclamation (v7)

Telling wondrous stories, as well as being the song by Yes I’ve had as an earworm all day since I did the Lectio Divina, which I don’t mind as is a great song, but it reminds me of the way Jesus told stories to the people to get his message across, stories which we call parables.

There is nothing in the text of Psalm 26 when taken alone to suggest it might be a messianic poem, but its position in the psalter is amongst a group of messianic psalms, so it isn’t a great leap of logic to say the song points to Jesus. At least that is where I was taken in the Lectio Divina. I asked God to reveal to me what Psalm 26 was about and that is what came into my mind. I leave it to you to take this as from God or not.

This song is light in tone, a relief as many of David’s psalms are written in times of peril. The short interludes about the evildoers seem to be there for contrast. But I can’t help but see the similarities with the life of Jesus who lived a life of integrity, was killed by evil people but was vindicated by the Father who raised him from death.

David told part of his story in this song within which he sang about singing God’s songs. In doing so he revealed something about Jesus the Messiah.

You could also reveal things about Jesus by telling your story and proclaiming God. What is your story?

< Psalm 26 first try | Psalm 26 | Psalm 27 >
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