One Bad Apple Does Spoil the Whole Bunch! (Psalms 26, 40, 58, 61-62, 64)

Scripture Reading – Psalms 26, 40, 58, 61-62, 64

Though our Scripture reading is six chapters long, the focus of today’s devotional will be limited to Psalm 26, verses 1-5.

Psalm 26:1-5 – The Character and Disciplines of a Man of Godly Character

Notice two precepts practiced by mature believers who love the LORD and employ the disciplines of a godly life.

The first characteristic of mature believers is they evidence humility and integrity before the LORD (Psalm 26:1-2). Pleading for justice, David called upon the LORD, declaring he had conducted himself as a man of integrity.

Psalm 26:1 – “Judge [plead; avenge; defend] me, O LORD [Jehovah; Eternal God]; for I have walked [behave; go] in mine integrity [uprightness; completeness; soundness]: I have trusted [confident; secure; bold] also in the LORD [Jehovah; Eternal God]; therefore I shall not slide [waver; be shaken].

Facing the assaults of enemies who accused him of wrongdoing and took delight in his troubles, David cried for vindication in Psalm 25.  In Psalm 26, he prayed for the LORD to come to his defense, asserting (if you will permit my own paraphrase of Psalm 26:1): Judge me…avenge me…defend me, Lord; for I am a man of integrity [honest; truthful; upright]. I trust the LORD and will not be shaken in my faith!

Drawing upon the smelting process of gold and silver, David reminds us that the LORD employs fiery trials to purify our hearts, test our motives, and burn away sinful impurities that pollute our lives (26:2).

Psalm 26:22  Examine [try; prove; test] me, O LORD [Jehovah; Eternal God], and prove [test; try] me; try [refine; melt; purge away] my reins [lit. kidneys; figuratively the reins of my mind, soul and thoughts] and my heart [mind; understanding].

In praying “Examine me, David identified the good and evil all saints contend with in our hearts. “Prove me,” meaning, test and see what manner of man I am. “Try my reins and my heart,” bring to light any thoughts and affections that are not pleasing in God’s sight.

Reminding us that God is loving, merciful and gracious, David declared,

Psalm 26:3 – “For thy lovingkindness [mercy; kindness; love and grace] is before mine eyes: and I have walked in thy truth [right; faithfulness; trustworthiness].

In a later psalm, David will state his conviction that the Word and the Law of God serve as a guiding lamp and light (Psalm 119:105; John 17:17).

In Psalm 26:4-5 a second precept is stated in four disciplines and brings to mind a similar contrast we found in Psalm 1:1. David proclaimed:

In Psalm 26:4-5 – “I have not sat [dwell; inhabit; abide; remain] with vain [deceit; lying; useless] persons [men], neither will I go in [come; go; enter] with dissemblers [concealed; pretenders].

5  I have hated [set against] the congregation [company; assembly; multitude] of evil doers [wicked]; and will not sit [dwell; abide] with the wicked [ungodly; immoral; criminal; i.e. guilty of breaking the law].”

“One bad apple spoils the whole bunch”!  

Scientists have discovered that ripening fruits emit a gaseous hormone called ethylene that promotes ripening in other fruits.  In a very literal sense, one ripening apple will release enough ethylene that it will cause other apples to over ripe and eventually begin to rot.  One bad apple does spoil the whole bushel!

David recognized the influence of a “spiritual bad apple” in Psalm 26:4-5. Tolerating one rebel or one unrepentant sinner can be devastating to the spiritual character of others.

David stressed four spiritual disciplines that saints of God will follow if they are to live godly lives in the midst of an ungodly society. The first, the godly will not keep company with worldly, dishonest men (26:4a).  Second, the saints of God will not support or cast in their lots with hypocrites (26:4b).  The third, God’s people will oppose and withstand the influence of the wicked (26:5a).  Finally, the godly will not fellowship with the wicked in their sin (26:5b).

Paul challenged Corinthian believers with the same spiritual principle writing:

1 Corinthians 5:11-13 – “But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat13 …Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.”

Knowing one rotten sinner can have a devastating influence on the character of the godly, I conclude with Paul’s admonition:

1 Corinthians 15:33“Be not deceived: evil communications [companions] corrupt good manners [morals].

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith