1 Vindicate me, O LORD,
for I have walked in my integrity,
and I have trusted in the LORD without wavering.
2 Prove me, O LORD, and try me;
test my heart and my mind.
3For your steadfast love is before my eyes,
and I walk in your faithfulness. 4I do not sit with men of falsehood,
nor do I consort with hypocrites.
5I hate the assembly of evildoers,
and I will not sit with the wicked. 6I wash my hands in innocence
and go around your altar, O LORD,
7proclaiming thanksgiving aloud,
and telling all your wondrous deeds. 8O LORD, I love the habitation of your house
and the place where your glory dwells.
9 Do not sweep my soul away with sinners,
nor my life with bloodthirsty men,
10in whose hands are evil devices,
and whose right hands are full of bribes. 11But as for me, I shall walk in my integrity;
redeem me, and be gracious to me.
12My foot stands on level ground;
in the great assembly I will bless the LORD. One hundred years ago the world was Roger Arbuckle’s oyster. He was a movie star in the silent film era. A heavy-set man, he drew people into theaters to watch the comedic antics of “Fatty Arbuckle.” He was compensated handsomely. On a September night in 1921, he hosted a party in a San Francisco hotel. It was Prohibition, but the alcohol flowed freely. One of the guests, an actress named Virginia Rappe, was found sick and in pain. She was seen by a hotel physician and a few days later brought to the hospital where she died. Another guest, Maude Delmont, accused Arbuckle of assaulting and injuring Rappe. He was brought to trial in a highly publicized case which gripped the nation. Twice, trials resulted in a hung jury – no verdict. Finally, in the third trial Arbuckle was acquitted. There were huge holes in the case, including the fact that Delmont did not testify, there were no witnesses, and Rappe, who had several medical conditions which might have explained her illness, had never said anything during her stay in the hospital before she died. In its acquittal, the jury penned a letter of apology to Arbuckle, asserting that a grave injustice had been done to him. It was too late. His career was over. He would spend the next 12 years until his death in 1933 trying to get people to look at his talent and acquittal instead of the accusation made against him. This psalm always used to make me uncomfortable. How could the psalmist say what he says? Has he trusted without wavering? Has he always hated the assembly of the evil doer? He seems to be claiming to be innocent. He even has the nerve to ask God to test his heart and mind. Who could withstand such scrutiny? One of my teachers in the faith urged me to look at this psalm again. The psalmist was speaking from the other side of the cross. Like Arbuckle pointing to his verdict, he was not really pointing to his own righteousness, but the righteousness of Christ that had been applied to him – look at my vindication. This week we are considering the many ways we take up the cross of Christ. I think we often imagine the suffering of that cross and well we should. But we also take up the cross of Christ when we assert our innocence as the recipient of his forgiveness and love. That is what the psalmist is doing. God has found him innocent in Christ. He really is innocent. In Word and Sacrament, God has made you innocent as well; you are perfect and pure. You can count on that. You can lay that innocence before the judge on judgment day and be confident. You bear the cross.
1 Vindicate me, O LORD,