Bible scholars point to this psalm as reflecting David’s reaction to his circumstances at the time. Another aspect scholars relate to this psalm is that David is a type of Christ (much like Psalm 22 where David cries out “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?”
Looking at the surface of this psalm, one would think, “How can
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Psalm 26:1 Of David. Vindicate me, O LORD, for I have walked in my integrity, and I have trusted in the LORD without wavering.
Considering the circumstances David was living in at the time, we can see he has no fear about asking God to vindicate him, as he was most likely being mercilessly pursued by Saul. Saul wanted him dead, but David had taken no retaliatory action against Saul. Some translations say “judge me” and others say “vindicate me”. A person guilty of a particular sin does fear judgment and has no hope of vindication. To vindicate means to judge and find innocent, to clear, as from an accusation, imputation, suspicion, or the like: to vindicate someone's honor. Using the term to judge leaves open the result of that judgment. It is very possible to be found innocent of an accusation, but when God judges us, the only way to be found innocent or blameless is through the blood of Christ.
Psalm 26:2 Prove me, O LORD, and try me; test my heart and my mind.
One can see that David was innocent in heart and mind of any wrongdoing against Saul, or even later against Absalom when he was trying to take over David’s kingdom. David left the retaliation and that kind of fight in God’s hands.
Psalm 26:3 For your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in your faithfulness.
This is the reason why David did not fear God searching all the dark corners of his heart.
Psalm 26:4 I do not sit with men of falsehood, nor do I consort with hypocrites. 5 I hate the assembly of evildoers, and I will not sit with the wicked.
To sit with is an idiom meaning to agree with or to condone that person’s ways or ideology. Also true of David. He made it clear to those rough men of valor that followed him what the rules were by following him. In 1 Samuel 21:5, David assures the priest Abimelech his men were holy, and must be sanctified (or prepared to worship God) on every ordinary journey, how much more they are holy on their special mission.
Psalm 26:6 I wash my hands in innocence and go around your altar, O LORD, 7 proclaiming thanksgiving aloud, and telling all your wondrous deeds.
Without going into all the purifications priests had to undergo in order to minister in the Tabernacle, David practiced purity of heart, and earnestly desired to honor God. He paid close attention to the ordinances and his preparation for those ordinances. Therefore, he could safely enter the court to the altar. It is very similar to Jesus’ teaching to Peter when He washed the disciples’ feet that those who are justified (bathed, washed clean) only need to wash their feet. Also similar to Paul’s teaching about the Lord’s Supper in 1 Corinthians 11:28.
Psalm 26:8 O LORD, I love the habitation of your house and the place where your glory dwells.
Saul’s constant pursuit prevented David from worship at the Tabernacle, but it did not lessen David’s love of the place. In Psalm 84, David asserts that a day in God’s courts is better than a thousand days elsewhere, and being a doorkeeper in God’s house is preferable to dwelling in the tents of wickedness. Adoration is part of worship and part of prayer.
Psalm 26:9 Do not sweep my soul away with sinners, nor my life with bloodthirsty men, 10 in whose hands are evil devices, and whose right hands are full of bribes.
This, I’m fairly certain, is not David’s plea for his eternal position after death. The word translated “my soul” is nephesh (neh'-fesh) and means breathing creature—more to the point, it means “me”. David is asking God to keep him from consorting with evil, bloodthirsty, wicked people. It is a different way of asking for God to take control over his life and to guide him down the path of goodness and mercy rather than wickedness.
Psalm 26:11 But as for me, I shall walk in my integrity; redeem me, and be gracious to me. 12 My foot stands on level ground; in the great assembly I will bless the LORD.
This reminds me of Joshua’s declaration: “As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” David knew that with God in control of his life, and the course of his life that it would reflect God’s glory in his integrity. That Hebrew word tôm means completeness, innocence, perfectness. He has no fear of his redemption and asks for grace. Because of God, his feet are planted on the firm foundation of God. For this, he praises and blesses God.
This should be the life and prayer of a Christian. Reaching out to those who need the saving grace of Jesus, but to not allow the lifestyles of the world (the wicked and evildoers) to permeate our souls or to soil more than our feet.