Psalm 26:2 (NIV)
Test me, Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind.
Have you ever been in a federal courtroom? It’s an intimidating scene. The walls are usually made up of beautiful wood panels, projecting the reality that the room is used for important and heavy matters. The judge’s area sits above everything else, setting them apart from those that would enter their court to be heard. The black robe they wear denotes the power and authority they have been given to judge your case and administer justice accordingly. When called on to testify, you are seated in a small “box”, exposed to everyone in the room…vulnerable…weak…alone. Would you willingly place yourself in that situation to have every aspect of your life examined and held up to a perfect standard? Probably not.
David was not asking to be placed in the ultimate “hot seat” because he believed he had lived a perfect life, for his sin with Bathsheba alone was a dark enough spot to remind him of the fact that he was far from perfect. While David had not walked perfectly, he had walked with integrity (Ps. 26:1, 11). The arc of his life bent towards God. He did not take the throne but waited patiently on the Lord. When confronted with his sin, he chose to confess, repent, and accept the consequences rather than lying or refusing to deal with it. He had been humbled time and time again…attacked time and time again…yet always trusted that the Lord would deliver him. David wanted God to test him because he trusted the Lord far more than he trusted himself and if he was off in any way, he knew he needed God’s help to make it right and to get back on track.
Andrew Melville was a 16thcentury Scottish theologian who said of this kind of prayer, “I call upon you to be cautious in using this prayer. It is easy to mock God, by asking him to search you whilst you have made but little effort to search yourselves, and perhaps still less to act upon the result of the scrutiny.” This reminds me of the saying, “Sometimes it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.” How easily we presume on God’s mercy and forgiveness as we choose the path of sin. How easily we justify our selfish motives without giving much thought as to how they might measure up to God’s. We don’t seek the judgment seek because we know, under the Judge’s scrutiny, that the intents of our hearts and minds won’t measure up. In our sin, we would rather face the consequences on the backside of our disobedience than bow down and submit our wicked hearts (Jer. 17:9) to the refining fire and correction of God.
Unlike a cold, dispassionate judge looking down at you from his lofty perch, our Heavenly Judge looks upon you as his own. His ways are perfectly just and bring an impossible plum line into your life, but he is also loving and kind and patient. Like any good earthly father would, he rebukes and corrects out of love and concern for his child, but unlike that flawed mortal father, His ways are perfect. The Lord is not a judge to run from, but one to be trusted and submitted to. Like David, we all need to seek his testing and ask for His guidance because not only is he always right…but he is always on our side.