November 5

Psalm 17:1-5

“If you try my heart, if you visit me by night, if you test me, you will find no wickedness in me; my mouth does not transgress.” vs. 3

Some of us are quite accustomed to feeling guilty! We know that we sin against God and one another in countless ways, and are regularly reminded of our shortcomings when we worship. Over and over we’ve said the self-condemning words in the confession and our self-image is affected. Sometimes even when we hear the good news of forgiveness, the weight of guilt remains. So it comes as a bit of a surprise in this text  to encounter a psalmist who isn’t burdened by guilt. In fact, he welcomes nightly tests from God and is confident that God will find no wickedness in his actions or in his speech. The context tells us that he’s engaged in a bit of bargaining with God. Having experienced injustice he’s making a case for God’s intervention on his behalf. He reasons that since he is beyond reproach and his opponents are scoundrels, God is bound to hear his prayer. It’s a familiar argument, one that we may have used ourselves in our discussions with God about justice. Even when we have feelings of guilt it wouldn’t be unusual to believe that we deserve a good break or two from God. And even if we don’t get our way, in the long run, the way we speak and act does make a difference.

Thought for the Day: On a scale of 1 – 10, where do I rank on the goodness scale?

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