Examine me, O Lord, and prove me; Try my mind and my heart. (Psalms 26:2)
If you’ve read many of his Psalms, you know that David was not shy before the LORD. Throughout David’s writings, you can see his boldness, his weaknesses and his vulnerability; David is a great example of how to get real before God. For me, Psalm 26:2 was like cold water in the face. Have you heard the saying “be careful what you pray for”? Psalms 26:2 might be a good place to which you apply that saying. Don’t misunderstand, it’s certainly a prayer we need to pray, as a matter of fact, it’s a prayer that eventually, every Christian must pray. However, praying Psalms 26:2 will take courage, conviction and commitment. When you pray it, you better be sure you mean it and that you’re ready for God to answer because this is a prayer that is going to bring some testing.
Let’s look at the words of Psalms 26:2 and see exactly what you’ll be asking God to do in your life.
Examine me – Examine is not a word that means to simply look over or give a glance to, it means to scrutinize. Not to be a sexist here, but it makes the point so I’ll go ahead and say it – ever watched a man buy a used car (or a new car for that matter)? It’s an amazing thing to behold. They lift the hood, jiggle all the wires, tug on all the hoses, check the oil, kick the tires, I mean they go over that thing with the proverbial fine toothed comb; that’s what it means to examine. When you pray this Psalm, that’s the kind of examination you’re asking God to do on you.
“Lord, do I meet Your standard? I know I may not be the best car on the lot, but will you check me out and see if you can use me?”
Prove me – To be proven is a term used in the processing of metals, especially gold or silver. I won’t go into all the details of how metals are tested, you can find a number of articles on the internet, but needless to say, the process is not a pleasant experience for the metals that are being proven. It is not an easy, one step process, but in the end, what remains is pure. After all, isn’t that what we all want? It’s clearly what God wants, “Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them, You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.” (Leviticus 19:2)
“Here I am Lord. Put me through the fire. See if I’m real. See if I’m strong enough to hold up to whatever is coming.”
Try me – Ever had someone try you? (she asked redundantly). Our children try us, our husbands, our bosses, folks on the highway, coworkers, the dog – lets face it, life is trying. But I would offer that we don’t know what it means to be tried until we’ve been tried by God. Daily trials of life are but for a moment but the trials God gives us (yes, our trials from God are a gift), they change us. Always. When God tries your mind, it changes how you think. When God tries your heart, it changes how you act. The length of the process used is pretty much up to you, determined by how you respond to the trying [note: if your response is not consistent with God’s ultimate objective, you should expect to repeat the examining and proving steps]. Are you up to the challenge?
“God, I’m willing. Try my mind, try my heart! God I want for my life the things you want for me. I trust you Lord and know that whatever trials you bring will be for my good. I know You love me.”
Before we finish up, I would like to turn your attention to another prayer from scripture. It’s found in the gospel of Luke.
The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. (Luke 18:11)
There’s a big difference between what the Pharisee prayed and what David prayed isn’t there? David had a true desire to know where he stood with God. He evidently had done a self-examination. If you read the rest of Psalm 26, you will see that, like the Pharisee, David thought he was right before God. But unlike the Pharisee, David wasn’t satisfied with what he thought. What mattered to David was what God thought. That’s what has to matter to us as well.
If you take prayer seriously, which I trust that you do, asking a Holy and Just God to examine, prove and try you is a prayer that takes great courage. You can be sure that changes are going to come. But, if you want to experience the fullness of God’s grace, mercy and love, if you want the joy of seeing the power of God in your life, it is a prayer that must be prayed, it is a prayer you will offer with great anticipation. A final word to encourage you: If you’re feeling doubtful or fearful about praying 26:2, just remember –
I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)