“Declare me innocent, O LORD, for I have acted with integrity; I have trusted in the LORD without wavering.” Psalm 26:1 (NLT)
Injustice can send you into an emotional tailspin. Without thinking you can become reactive and strike back from the deep pain you feel. As a Christ follower, the Bible speaks to injustice and unfairness. In Psalm 26 David shows us six ways he was able to respond with integrity in the face of mistreatment.
- Take it to the Lord and stay close to God. (Vs. 1)
Rather than playing the victim and turning inward, David turned to God in prayer. You can take injustice personally; you can take it out on those who mistreated you; or you can take it to the Lord. The first thing David did was to take it to God. In the first verse of this Psalm he prayed, “Declare me innocent, O LORD, for I have acted with integrity; I have trusted in the LORD without wavering.” That’s the first step in responding to injustice.
- Ask God to examine your heart. (Vs. 2-3)
Then David goes a little further. Before dismissing it totally or acting as if the mistreatment was completely unjust, David invites the Lord to examine him thoroughly. He knew he wasn’t perfect and despite how much the mistreatment may hurt, he wanted God to review the case. In verses 2 and 3 David prays, “Test me, O LORD, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; for Your love is ever before me, and I walk continually in Your truth.” David was willing to hear from God even if there was merit to the mistreatment he experienced because he knew God loved him no matter what. Let God review your case before you dismiss it. You can open your heart to God when you remember His love is ever before you! Then continue to walk in truth.
- Be careful where you get your counsel. (Vs. 4-5)
Next, avoid turning to those who don’t walk with God. Mistreatment can make you vulnerable to bad counsel. Satan can use the pain you feel to influence you into becoming bitter and vindictive. In verses 4 and 5, David said, “I do not spend time with liars or go along with hypocrites. I hate the gatherings of those who do evil, and I refuse to join in with the wicked.” Refuse to listen to bad counsel. It will only perpetuate your pain.
- Stay positive. (Vs. 6-7)
Rather than replaying the mistreatment in your head, redirect your thoughts in thanksgiving and praise. You can pout or you can praise. It’s a choice to rejoice. David said, “I wash my hands to declare my innocence. I come to Your altar, O LORD, singing a song of thanksgiving and telling of all Your wonders.” (Vs. 6-7) Shift your focus from what others have done to you to what God is doing for you. When Paul and Silas were in jail, wrongfully imprisoned, and after being beaten, they responded by singing songs of praise while constrained in stocks in Acts 16.
- Connect with faithful Christ followers. (Vs. 8)
Injustice and mistreatment can cause us to isolate ourselves and withdraw from others, even the fellowship of our church family. Don’t do it. That’s a snare of the enemy. We need one another and the Scripture says we belong to one another. When one hurts, we all hurt and when one rejoices, we all rejoice. We are to bear one another’s burdens and pray for one another. David said, “I love Your sanctuary, LORD, the place where Your glorious presence dwells.” (Vs. 8) When you’ve been mistreated you need to connect with other faithful Christ followers and worship. It will bring perspective and balance back into your life. There is healing, deep healing, in heartfelt corporate worship as we connect with other Christ followers.
- Wait patiently trusting God to work things out. (Vs. 9-12)
This may be the most difficult step to take. Who likes to wait? We want instant justice when we’ve been mistreated. It’s hard to wait, especially when we don’t see anything happening. David returned to his plea for vindication in verses 9-11: “Don’t let me suffer the fate of sinners. Don’t condemn me along with murderers. Their hands are dirty with evil schemes, and they constantly take bribes. But I am not like that; I live with integrity. So redeem me and show me mercy.”
Having turned to God in prayer when he was mistreated, David had confidence that God heard his prayer and would handle the situation. He regained his emotional balance and could say, “Now I stand on solid ground, and I will publicly praise the LORD.” (Vs. 12) God’s purpose is greater than our pain. When you experience mistreatment, it’s easy to lose perspective and react. Instead, be proactive and follow these six steps in Psalm 26.