Reflection for Today ▶️ ⏩ ⏹️
Little acts of Kindness 2 by Siddhi Yadav Machado
Judge me, O Lord; for I have walked in mine integrity: I have trusted also in the Lord; therefore I shall not slide. Examine me, O Lord, and prove me; try my reins and my heart. For thy lovingkindness is before mine eyes: and I have walked in thy truth.
— Psalms 26:1-3
What kind of judgement is the psalmist asking for here? Reading the Old Testament today and hearing of a God who judges we naturally assume the one kind of justice our modern-day societies are focused on: retributive justice—the justice concerned with revenge and punishment. So engrained has this become in our minds that it is hard to read the word 'judge' and not be drawn into this conclusion. But there are two other types of justice, distributive and retributive. The first means to ensure fairness and create social equivalence; the second to repair what has been broken, to make amends. Perhaps some combination of these meanings are what the psalmist is seeking, actually asking for recognition—to be discerned and treated fairly, rather than be judged and rewarded (or punished). Much is lost in translation, so as scripture moves through many languages and eras meanings are lost, altered or reinvented. We can never really know what is meant by such a request as Judge me, but we can open our minds to alternative possibilities than the one we assume by default.
The third verse of this psalm offers a clue as to the kind of judgment being sought. The Hebrew word תםד translated variously throughout the Old Testament as grace, kindness, mercy, justice, charity, benevolence, and goodness is here rendered as the beautiful, compound term lovingkindness.1 The psalmist is seeking God's love, mercy and kindness, certainly not his wrath, nor to be raised up above others. When we do our best we can walk side by side with God, and with our fellow human.
1 The term was coined by Myles Coverdale and used in The Coverdale Bible, published in 1535. It is one of the earlier English translations, preceding the KJV by around 75 years.