Sometime or other, I picked up a small Book of Psalms for tens of tens of pennies. Maybe at a library sale. Maybe at a thrift store. Maybe at an estate sale. (Since then I’ve learned that it’s important – for my own sake – to document each and every book purchase on the inside front cover. “Bought in May 2006 for $1.00 at a tiny, crowded, musty fusty bookshop in southern Michigan when I was passing through.” That kind of thing.)
I picked up this particular Book of Psalms because
- it is leatherbound
- it has quirky (some might say elegant) gold-gilt type on the cover
- it is of a size and shape and weight that feels just right in my hands
- it has an intact binding
- it has a personalized fly-leaf noting that Aunt Lil gave it to her nephew Arthur on December 17, 1916
- it has a quirky (some might say historical) book stamp on the title page noting that it was once the property of Arlington Street Church, Boston
- it boasts 1882 as a publication date (and 1882 books are, as a general rule, good for the soul)
- it numbers the individual songs Romanically (which apparently is not a word, but whatever).
That last one is important. There is something mighty and majestic about “Psalm XXVI” as a title that “Psalm 26” lacks. Perhaps that’s why we say “Twenty-Second Winter Olympics,” but we write “XXII Winter Olympics.”
No matter. Whether XXVI or 26, this morning’s Psalm – as is so often the case – is best considered as a series of questions and challenges before starting yet another week of full, rich, real life.
–Have I acted with integrity and trusted the Lord without wavering?
–Have I invited the Lord to truly test the motives of my heart?
–Am I always aware of His unfailing love?
–Have I lived according to His truth?
–Do I resist going along with hypocrites?
–Do I refuse to join in with the wicked?
–Do I enter the glorious presence of God, singing with thanksgiving and telling of His wonders?
–Have I fully embraced God’s redemption and mercy so that I can (undeservedly) stand on solid ground?
–Do I publicly and joyfully praise the Lord?
Of course not. At least not to the extent that I could or should, and certainly not to the extent that He deserves.
But (oh glory!) “of course not” is not a static state of being. Rather, it is the reality from which we launch ourselves anew each and every morning straight into the loving arms of our Creator and Savior, there to be embraced just as we are. For it is only in those arms – the source of all love, forgiveness, strength, and grace – that we have any hope to live a life that can answer “yes” to the questions of Psalm XXVI. After all, it is not just “A Psalm of David” but rather “A Psalm of Us All.”