“Prove me, O LORD, and try me;
test my heart and my mind.
For your steadfast love is before my eyes,
and I walk in your faithfulness.”
The writer of this psalm, David, begins by speaking of his having walked in integrity and “trusted in the LORD without wavering.” Then he makes a statement I find remarkable: “Prove me, O LORD, and try me; test my heart and my mind.”
Let the implications sink in for a moment. David is declaring his integrity and his unwavering trust, and then he asks the Lord to test him in this.
My first thought is of Job. A man whom God Himself highlighted for his righteousness, and whom God essentially offered to Satan as a person who would remain faithful to God no matter what the enemy did to try and shake him. Satan cut immediately to the deepest hurts imaginable. Job lost his children, his health, everything that he had. We see his resulting desperation, confusion, and grief recorded in Scripture. He doesn’t understand why God has allowed all of this. But he knows that God is in control, that He sees him, and Job holds to his faith.
A pretty intense testing. One that brings emphasis to the magnitude of what David is saying when he tells God to prove his integrity and his faith.
We tend to hesitate on the more challenging prayers, don’t we? Those asking for patience or stronger faith or more grace to show to others—they usually are answered with situations in which we learn these characteristics experientially, as we are led through circumstances that challenge and stretch us. Which is good and beneficial, but generally not fun at the time.
So imagine an overarching prayer: “God, I believe You with a faith that doesn’t waver, and I walk in integrity and hold fast in obedience to Your Word. Prove me in this, test and try my heart and my mind.” What kind of a challenge are you asking to walk into?
Yet David says this without fear. Without any hint of intimidation or pause. And I think the key is found in the next few words: “For your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in your faithfulness.”
Walking with the Lord, trusting in Him and seeing Him come through time and time again, David is very aware of God’s steadfast love and faithfulness. That is what he fixes his eyes on. His trust is in the character and reality and power and sovereignty of his God. His God. Not an unknown, distant being, but the God David has known as he has walked each step of his life. This is why he dares to make such a statement. Because he knows his God, and he trusts Him completely.
David knows that whatever comes his way, God’s steadfast love will prevail. It will define each moment. Even through the greatest trial and testing, steadfast love wins out and faithfulness will see him through every step of the way.
It isn’t cruelty or a lack of caring that decides what valleys we face. It is the purpose and wisdom and love of God. He wants us to be filled with more joy, more light, more steadfastness, more of all of Him. But these things usually require a more difficult, sometimes painful road to get there. So in His purpose and His goodness, He leads us wherever we need to go.
This isn’t a prayer to issue lightly. But I hope that we will see beyond the trial to the glorious other side—that side filled with all the “more” God has for us—and that we will fix our eyes on the steadfast love and faithfulness of our God. Our God who is known. Our God who has been with us every moment. And our God who will not let us walk this road alone.
Let us dare to trust Him this much, to cast aside our fear and believe resolutely that He will only send our way that which He has ordained in perfect, steadfast love and through which He will walk with us in faithfulness, grace, and strength.
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,
for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.
And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
“Though he slay me, I will hope in him”
“But he knows the way that I take;
when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.”
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight,
and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross,
despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”