Psalm 26: Guilty by Association
Vindicate me, Lord,
for I have led a blameless life;
I have trusted in the Lord
and have not faltered.
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.
I do not sit with the deceitful, nor do I associate with hypocrites. I abhor the assembly of evildoers and refuse to sit with the wicked. I wash my hands in innocence, and go about your altar, Lord, proclaiming aloud your praise and telling of all your wonderful deeds. Lord, I love the house where you live, the place where your glory dwells. Do not take away my soul along with sinners, my life with those who are bloodthirsty, in whose hands are wicked schemes, whose right hands are full of bribes. I lead a blameless life; deliver me and be merciful to me. My feet stand on level ground; in the great congregation I will praise the Lord.
Have you ever been blamed for something not because of what you did but because of who you were friends with? Maybe you've had a few friends who are known for getting into trouble and sometimes you get lumped in with them. You've become "guilty by association."
To be clear, being blamed for something you didn't do is never right, but it's important to remember that we often slowly become more like the people we surround ourselves with. The more time you spend with friends, the more you will start having similar interests, senses of humor, and attitudes. Our friends are the most influential people in our lives.
Influence is the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something. We're constantly being influenced and being influencers ourselves.
Salt is the ultimate influencer. If you add the tiny mineral of salt to food, it instantly tastes way better. If you don't believe me, ask for no salt on your burger and fries next time you eat out. Salt makes everything else taste better.
So who are your friends? The Psalmist writes:
I do not sit with the deceitful,
nor do I associate with hypocrites.
I abhor the assembly of evildoers
and refuse to sit with the wicked.
The Psalmist refuses to associate with people who are bad influences. Evil is a powerful force that infects every part of us when we give into it. The good news is we can choose what we intake, what we're influenced by, and what we ultimately serve. The Psalmist goes on to say how much he loves going to God and giving Him praise.
While whoever wrote this Psalm claims to be blameless, we know that all of us have sinned and messed up before. Some people think this Psalm is an arrogant boast of how great the writer is, but this isn't what the Psalm is saying. The writer says that it is because of God's unfailing and love that they can live a holy life. This Psalm was also written for a group to sing and pray together as an encouragement to remind all of us of what it means to live a life following God.
This Psalm is also not saying you should only hang out with people who follow God. Rather, this Psalm is telling us to be careful of who influences us. We all need to be friends with people who don't know Jesus, but we need to influence their worldview and not the other way around. We all have an opportunity to be salt to those around us, will we take it?
Challenge: Write down a list of your closest friends. Spend some time thinking about how they influence you, both good and bad. Then spend some time thinking about how you may be influencing them already and how you can influence them for Jesus. Pray for each of them and ask God to give you the opportunities to show His love towards them.