Tag Archive: sin


A Plea for Vindication

June 21, 2012

Vindicate me, O LORD, for I have walked in my integrity,

and I have trusted in the LORD without wavering.

(Psalm 26:1)

In Ps. 26, David emphasizes that he has always been faithful to God. It appears that this reaction comes in response to his enemies who were maligning his character. Although the exact details are not revealed, it is clear that David was greatly troubled by the insinuation that he should be numbered among those who have no regard for God’s Word. David speaks of his love for God several times and also voices his disdain for the wicked and their schemes.

Note how this Psalm begins: “Vindicate me, O LORD.” The term translated as “vindicate” means “to judge” or “to decide controversy.” David wants God to give the true and final verdict, as it were. He knows that he cannot succeed by pleading his case to his enemies. They would continue spreading lies about him. Therefore, he turns to God, the only one able to judge impartially and the only one capable of knowing the whole truth.

David doesn’t ask God to correct those who are slandering him. There was nothing he could do to change the damage done and nothing he could do to force his enemies to recant. But he wants to be assured that he has lived righteously in the eyes of the LORD. Clearly, God’s opinion mattered most to David. He is able to make this request of God without fear because he knows that he has lived in obedience to God’s law, regardless of what some men were saying.

Three points need to be emphasized. First, the slanderer is never concerned for the truth. We shouldn’t expect him to be interested in it. Slander, by definition, is a sin and is contrary to the Ninth Commandment (“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor”). The man who will lie reveals his genuine goal, which is destruction.

Second, the slanderer will normally “go public” with his accusations. His aim is to destroy his victim, as noted, and that takes public condemnation. The enemies of David wanted to insulate themselves from scrutiny by disappearing into a mob. David could not possibly confront every person who heard the slander, believed it, and repeated it. Once an accusation becomes the mantra of a mob, there is little hope of genuine and thorough exoneration.

And third, there is only one appeal that makes sense and only one that will bring relief. As David illustrates, we must appeal to God because He alone knows the truth and He alone knows the hearts of the attackers. If our aim is justice, this is the only course of action.

Sometimes, as much as we would like to have our enemies forsake their attack and admit their lies, we just have to live with what has been done and entrust ourselves (our reputation and our future) to the LORD. This is not an easy thing to do because, being made in the image of God, we naturally yearn for vindication in the eyes of all who have heard the lies. God’s judgment of such circumstances, however, is often not immediate. Therefore, if we have a clear conscience before God, we have to train ourselves to be at peace before Him regardless of what others say. We must remind ourselves that declaring something does not make it true and truth is what matters in the eyes of God.

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Dan Savage is the founder of an anti-bullying campaign known as It Gets Better. Recently, Savage was invited to speak to several thousand young journalists who were present at a conference in Seattle sponsored by the National Scholastic Press Association and the Journalism Education Association. It was naturally assumed that the topic of the remarks would be bullying, which has become such an increasingly disturbing issue in our culture.

It became obvious, however, that Savage intended to address another subject. “I hope you’re all using birth control,” he said as he began to speak. After that, Savage related several stories about his husband and assured the students that, if his husband were to join him on stage, they would not be able to pull him off of his partner.

The tone of the speech became even more vicious as Savage started cursing as he made reference to the Bible. For example, he declared: “We can learn to ignore the b***s*** in the Bible about gay people.” And using the same phrasing, Savage referred disparagingly to the Bible’s teaching on slavery, menstruation, virginity, and several other subjects. Nothing had been said or done to spark such an outrageous commentary.

Personally, I think that the remarks of Savage amount to nothing of consequence. This was nothing more than a man who hates God shaking his fist in God’s face while thinking he was making such significant points. A couple of passages in Scripture came to mind as I heard the story. The first was Psalm 14:1 “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds; there is no one who does good.” In an effort to escape the accusations of God’s Word, men like Savage are forced to attack the concept of God and righteousness. They find some perverted solace in raving against that which emphasizes their sin.

The second passage presents a response from the God that Savage hates so bitterly: “He who sits in the heavens laughs, the Lord scoffs at them.” (Psalm 2:4) Savage is no threat to God, but is just another foolish man whose behavior verifies the teaching of Scripture concerning fallen humanity. Consequently, God mocks the pathetic example of an enemy ranting against the standard by which he is judged now and in the world to come.

Although Christians are rightly disgusted by this performance, we should have a measure of pity for a man like this. And we should be humbled because we know that without the grace of God we would be in the same condition as Savage. There is nothing for the believer to boast about when it comes to our deliverance from sin. Savage happens to speak louder and more vigorously than other sinners, but the root cause of such perspectives is one we all share. We can only thank God for his merciful condescension to us in Christ our Savior.