If we asked the general population for a definition of faith, most of what we got back in reply would amount to the idea that faith is believing in existence of something that cannot be proven. Most people, who do not believe in God, perceive the faith of Christians as an irrational conviction of the existence of a God for which no scientific evidence exists. More than that, they think people who believe in God have to surmount the difficulties of their own misgivings and doubts, especially those raised by science in a modern, enlightened world. There is an inherent prejudice when it comes to faith, which sees it as an impossible mental (emotional) leap into the philosophical known, with the hope that something might be encountered. And to some extent this is true of any number of religious belief systems. However, when it comes to faith in the God of the Bible, people are encouraged constantly to evaluate the evidence and to believe in God. The Bible is described as the historical account of God’s revelation of himself, first to Israel the nation, and after that through the person and life of Jesus Christ (John 1:1-3; 14, 18; 14:6-14). If this is correct then faith is not an irrational leap, it is a calculated trust in God, who has revealed himself and been discovered by those who have looked for him,

In the Old Testament, the word faith as a noun appears rarely. The KJV on has two instances (Wood, D. R. W., & Marshall, I. H. (1996). New Bible dictionary (3rd ed.). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press). Whereas the verb is much more frequent, it is translated by trust often, and by believe (Wood, D. R. W., & Marshall, I. H. (1996). New Bible dictionary (3rd ed.). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press). It has been said by some that there is a difference between trust and faith, but really they are the same ‘animal.’ trying to divide the two is like trying to establish the difference between water from the tap and water from a bottle, there is no essential difference!

Wood and Marshall state that some have concluded that in the Old Testament the saints relied upon their good works or righteousness for salvation, but this cannot be upheld, because of statements like the one in Psalm 26 (Wood, D. R. W., & Marshall, I. H. (1996). New Bible dictionary (3rd ed.). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press). The psalmist clearly lays down the reason for his blamelessness and righteousness to be his faith in God or the fact that he has trusted God (1). In fact he is so confident in his faith that he invites God to test, or it to examine it (2)! It is not his righteousness or his blamelessness he calls upon God to test for faults or inconsistencies, but his faith or his trust in God. He encourages God to examine his heart and mind, to look at the inward condition of his life, to verify that he really does trust in God, and has utter confidence in him.

Specifically the psalmist invites God to measure how mindful, conscious, he has been of God’s unfailing love. Another way to say unfailing love is mercy. The psalmist is saying that in his calculations and the way he conducts himself and his life, he makes dependance upon the mercy of God his first priority (3a). The factor that makes the biggest difference in his life is the mercy of God, and he makes every decision, aware of and depending on God’s mercy to provide support. He also says that he lives in reliance on God’s faithfulness. If he calculates on the mercy of God as he moves forward in the big things, in the day-to-day business of living he relies on the faithfulness of God. In other words the dependability of God to protect and support him is a major factor in how the psalmist conducts his life with confidence and a sense of victory each day in the mundane aspects of everyday life (3b).

The effect of his trust in God is to produce a lifestyle that honors God in everything he does. He refuses to associate with the deceitful, hypocrites, evildoers or the wicked (4-5). In the Old Testament, one of the marks of holiness was a refusal to keep company with those who dishonor God. The psalmist’s faith in God means that he refused to associate with those who not only had no faith in God, but dishonor him through deceitfulness (lying, cheating to get ahead), hypocrisy (those who make a show of holiness, but don’t have it in the heart), the evildoer (those who act badly, usually in the moral sense of violating the commands of God), the wicked (those who veer away from righteousness in the sense that they avoid it) (Richards, Lawrence O. Expository Dictionary of Bible Words. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1985). Instead he can rejoice in his innocence or righteousness (6). This means the psalmist can claim to be right with God; not sinless or never having sinned, but of having a heart that is right with God morally and spiritually! His innocence is the reason for his rejoicing and confidence at the altar, where he can worship God freely without fear of judgment (6b-7).

We all know the infamy of David’s failures, several of them. It is hard to reconcile David’s claim to innocence and righteousness with what we know about him. David himself is capable of acknowledging his sin and claiming innocence in the space of a few lines (Psalm 25) (Motyer, J. A. The Message of Psalms 1-72: The Bible Speaks Today. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2001. 93). This exaltation and confidence in his own innocence and integrity, is not arrogant or misplaced. It comes from his trust in the Lord. His refusal to associate with the wicked and his adoption of a right attitude and heart toward God, flows from his faith in God. And this faith God can test anytime he desires, because the psalmist is confident that God will find it genuine! Blamelessness is not total sinlessness, it is integrity, an undivided heart (Motyer, J. A. The Message of Psalms 1-72: The Bible Speaks Today. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2001. 93). The Hebrew word translated integrity has at its core the idea of wholeness, fullness, and thus innocence and integrity (Gesenius, W., & Tregelles, S. P. (2003). Gesenius’ Hebrew and Chaldee lexicon to the Old Testament Scriptures. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software). In other words David’s faith in God is wholehearted, it is undivided. He is not in two minds. Integrity defines his faith, in that it is a completely undivided loyalty and confidence in God.

David didn’t claim to have never sinned, but he claimed that his faith had led to him having an undivided heart for God, which in turn had changed his lifestyle, attitude and behavior. Indeed, David invited God to examine and test the integrity he claimed, to prove to his own satisfaction that David was indeed loyal toward God! All of this David laid at the feet of his faith and trust in God. Without his faith in God, David could not claim to have undivided loyalty to God that produced righteousness in his life. The hypocrite David mentions earlier is the opposite to what David is arguing here, in that the hypocrite is someone who is evil in spite of the outward appearance of religious respectability ((Motyer, J. A. The Message of Psalms 1-72: The Bible Speaks Toda. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2001. 94). Although David’s life had been pock-marked by sin, his faith in God had brought him to a place of integrity through restoration and forgiveness. This David pleaded should also lead to deliverance and victory (1).

Instead of keeping company with the wicked, David keeps company with God and his people, in the house where he loves to God to worship God and fellowship with his people (8). It was a mark of his integrity and righteousness that his desire was for God house where God and his people meet with one another in sweet fellowship! David is pleading to be treated, not like the sinner but like someone who belongs to God. He wants God to deal with him differently than he would the assembly of the evildoer or wicked, as he would those who are of the assembly of the righteous (Motyer, J. A. The Message of Psalms 1-72: The Bible Speaks Toda. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2001. 94).

Now the original prayer was for God’s vindication. The cry is for God to declare him not guilty in his sight, to be declared innocent before the bar of God (The Pulpit Commentary: Psalms Vol. I. 2004 (H. D. M. Spence-Jones, Ed.). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software). Somehow David is sure that the past is forgiven, and that his heart is affirmed in integrity before God. He is genuine and undivided in his devotion (2). Faith has arisen to seize the forgiveness of God, so that his transgressions are blotted out in God’s sight (cf. Ps. 32:1 ; 51:1, 9; 103:4). The psalmist is also expecting for God to bring him out on top, to prove the validity of his faith and trust in God, and the genuineness of his righteousness. He is asking God to prove that the faith he has placed in Him, faith that has led to righteousness, is valid in the end. He wants the witness to go up in the final analysis, so that everyone will know that he belongs to God and that God has forgiven and preserved him (cf. Rom. 8:21)! Where sinners are falling and where the wicked are being overthrown because of the sin, he is asking God to uphold him and prove his faith to be real, powerful, lasting and ultimately the source of deliverance from all evil and harm. Where wickedness and evil are reaping their harvest of harm, he pleads for God to protect him and to deliver him from the harm that comes upon them, to hedge him about, because of his faith in God. The psalmist is expecting that the fate that overtakes the wicked will not overtake him. On the contrary he hopes to stand firmly in the congregation of the Lord, unmoved and secure (12).

While David cannot claim to be perfect or to have been without sin, because of his faith in God, he can claim that at the very bottom of his soul he is committed to God, in spite of his failures and weaknesses (Motyer, J. A. The Message of Psalms 1-72: The Bible Speaks Toda. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2001. 93)! It is based on this bedrock loyalty to God, that David expects God to vindicate him, to ultimately deliver him from trouble. On the day of judgment God will pronounce him saved! It is this that is at the core of David’s faith in God, that he will be vindicated in the end and his life will be fully preserved by God! In the end David wants to be found in the company of the saints who abide in the presence of God. He expresses his love for the place where God’s people meet and fellowship and where God’s presence is; he eschews the company of the wicked (6-8). His prayer is that God will make that the permanent condition of his life in eternity. That God will ratify the choice he has made by declaring him righteous… so that in the end it will be the declaration of the God that seals it as genuine and real!

In the end, David recognizes what integrity implies, he is not blameless in the absolute sense, and therefore he has no claim on God to be treated with honor or vindication ((Motyer, J. A. The Message of Psalms 1-72: The Bible Speaks Toda. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2001. 95). It is his faith in God that lays claim to integrity, an undivided heart that trusts God, and is therefore confidence to call upon him to be treated differently from those who do love or trust God. In the end the pivot, the fulcrum is David’s faith or trust in God. It is the point at which righteousness and integrity begin and persist, and ground for his plea for God to treat him differently than sinners and evil doers!

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