How could David be blameless?

Discussion in 'OT Wisdom Literature' started by jpfrench81, Oct 13, 2009.

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  1. jpfrench81

    jpfrench81 Puritan Board Sophomore

    In Psalm 26:1 David says:

    1 Vindicate me, LORD,
    for I have led a blameless life;
    I have trusted in the LORD
    and have not faltered.

    How could David say this? He did not lead a blameless life and surely faltered in taking the census, murdering Uriah, sleeping with Bathsheba, not dealing with his children properly, etc.

    Obviously, this is inspired scripture and is not in error. The question is, what does this really mean since it doesn't seem like it can mean the obvious?
  2. ChristianHedonist

    ChristianHedonist Puritan Board Freshman

    The Psalms often speak, in a prophetic manner, about Jesus. Also, though David himself was not blameless, he was counted as blameless and righteous by God, through faith, because of the blamelessness and righteousness of Christ.
  3. JennyG

    JennyG Puritan Board Graduate

    ChritianHedonist's must be the real answer - but if David could perceive himself as blameless, perhaps the psalm was written earlier in his life...?
  4. jason d

    jason d Puritan Board Freshman

    That's a good question and something I have wondered myself because it is also mentioned here:

    I think we think of "blameless" or "upright" as having to mean "perfectly holy" or "positionally justified & sanctified" but I think in these context "blameless" and "upright" mean something different.

    Notice all the times it declares one "blameless" or "upright" it goes on further to explain (or qualify) what that means:
    - "fears God"
    - "turns away from evil"
    - "holds fast his integrity"
    - "walked with God"

    I think this is consistent when we see the qualification for an elder in 1 Tim 3, "Therefore an overseer must be above reproach..."

    We know that noone is sinlessly perfected and all have sinned and fallen short of God's glory so these must be talking about a life that is "above reproach". We are too walk worthy of the gospel and don't do anything to bring reproach to Christ. So I believe these cases where it says they were blameless means there lifestyle was in line with God (though they fell at times like we all do) but overall their lifestyle was not marked out by sin, but rather walking in the light (1 John 1)

    At least that is how I think of this for now but I am open to criticism for my view, I've never really heard anyone address this question in much detail that was satisfying.
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2009
  5. BobVigneault

    BobVigneault Bawberator

    I think the answer is in the parallelism between the first and second part of the first: I have led a blameless life = I have trusted in the Lord.

    The believer is not blameless but Christ is. We need the weekly reminder that our sins are atoned for by Christ and that the Father sees the 'robe' of the righteousness of Christ surrounding us. In Christ, by grace through faith I am blameless and have led a blameless life. There is no guilt of sin, there is no penalty for sin, there is a presence of sin but it doesn't change the finished work of the Cross.

    We cannot over cultivate our identity in Christ. Justification makes us blameless and gratitude will sanctify us.
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2009
  6. Nathan Riese

    Nathan Riese Puritan Board Freshman

    A Psalm of David.
    1 Vindicate me, O Lord, for I have walked in my integrity,
    And I have trusted in the Lord without wavering.
    2 Examine me, O Lord, and try me;
    Test my mind and my heart.
    3 For Your lovingkindness is before my eyes,
    And I have walked in Your truth.
    4 I do not sit with deceitful men,
    Nor will I go with pretenders.
    5 I hate the assembly of evildoers,
    And I will not sit with the wicked.
    6 I shall wash my hands in innocence,
    And I will go about Your altar, O Lord,
    7 That I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving
    And declare all Your wonders.
    8 O Lord, I love the habitation of Your house
    And the place where Your glory dwells.
    9 Do not take my soul away along with sinners,
    Nor my life with bmen of bloodshed,
    10 In whose hands is a awicked scheme,
    And whose right hand is full of bribes.
    11 But as for me, I shall awalk in my integrity;
    Redeem me, and be gracious to me.
    12 My foot stands on a level place;
    In the congregations I shall bless the Lord.

    New American Standard Bible : 1995 Update (LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Ps 26:1-12.

    The KJV, NKJV, and ESV agree with the NASB and they, especially the NASB, are more literal than the NIV, so the problem, I would guess, is actually in the translation.

    I would also agree with Jason that there is definitely a qualifier here. The whole chapter explains how he is walking in integrity and continuously trusting in the LORD.

    In the NIV, when it says "and have not faltered," it gives one the sense that David is living a perfect life without ever falling into sin. "I have led a blameless life...and have not faltered." This is not what he actually said though, so I think the NIV led to some confusion in this case (not that the other versions are perfect either). He is saying that he does not have a wavering faith, but a firm faith in the LORD.

    The Hebrew word of which you question has other derivatives:
    integrity (there are two derivatives for integrity)

    Harris, R. Laird, Robert Laird Harris, Gleason Leonard Archer and Bruce K. Waltke. Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament. Chicago: Moody Press, 1999, c1980.

    This instance is not perfection, but integrity. It has the meaning of "perfect freedom from all sinful intent, purity of character, pureness, guilelessness...[David] does not self-righteously hold himself to be morally perfect, he appeals only to the fundamental tendency of his inmost nature, which is turned towards God and to Him only."

    Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament. (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2002), 5:222.

    Hope that helps.
  7. Amazing Grace

    Amazing Grace Puritan Board Junior

    Perhaps there is such a thing as a 'character righteousness' in the saints. Not some sinless perfectionism according to Law, but as a whole a 'decent Jew' according to Law. A life devoted to God, repentant, faithful. This is some sort of vindication against other men, perhaps along the lines of how james uses the word justify.

    And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.

    There is a legal righteousness and blamelessness.

    amemptos in the Greek.

    Psalm 26 uses the hebrew word Tom. I honestly do not know how some translate as blameless anyway.
  8. jason d

    jason d Puritan Board Freshman

    Over @ the Sola Panel blog they just wrote on this very subject:

  9. Michael Doyle

    Michael Doyle Puritan Board Junior

    Davids upright walk and blameless way come from, as has been attested to here, an alien righteousness.
    David had faith in the Messiah to come and God counted it to him as righteousness. This is the crux of all Old Testament saints and for that matter all saints, only those in the new covenant witnessed the death burial and resurrection of the lamb of God. David believed covenantaly in the promises of God. You will crush his head and he will bruise your heel. (Genesis 3:15) He trusted in the Abrahamic covenant that Yahweh will redeem the children of Abraham. He attested to God`s deliverance out of Egypt and Yahweh`s condescension on Sinai in creating a royal priesthood and holy nation. He trusted in the kingly promises of Samuel 7

    All in all, David was witness to Yahweh`s covenant to humanity in that He promised to be our God and we will be His people.
  10. carlgobelman

    carlgobelman Puritan Board Freshman

    How is anyone blameless? It's only by the blood of Christ, right?

    David seems to be basing his "blamelessness" on his trust in the LORD. That's the pattern in all of Scripture.
  11. proverbs31woman

    proverbs31woman Puritan Board Freshman

    I'd have to agree with Bob Vig. Interesting though........I love debating things like this.:book2:
  12. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    As I taught through the first 15 chapters of Proverbs in the last 8 months or so, I repeatedly pressed this point (as many others):

    **The righteous (or blameless) man is the forgiven man.**

    Men like David knew this.
  13. Andres

    Andres Puritan Board Doctor

    I believe this sums it up.
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