The psalmist appeals to God for his integrity, and desires to be brought to the Divine test in order to have his innocence proved, 1-3; shows that he had avoided all fellowship with the wicked, and associated with the upright, 4-8; prays that he may not have his final lot with the workers of iniquity, 9,10; purposes to walk uprightly before God, 11,12.
NOTES ON PSALM XXVI
This Psalm, and the two following, are supposed by Calmet to be all parts of one ode, and to relate to the time of the captivity, containing the prayers, supplications, complaints, and resolutions of the Israelites in Babylon. This is probable; but we have not evidence enough to authorize us to be nice on such points. See on the following verse.
Judge me, O Lord
There are so many strong assertions in this Psalm concerning the innocence and uprightness of its author, that many suppose he wrote it to vindicate himself from some severe reflections on his conduct, or accusations relative to plots, conspiracies, that attributes it to David during his exile, when all manner of false accusations were brought against him at the court of Saul.
I have walked in mine integrity
I have never plotted against the life nor property of any man; I have neither coveted nor endeavoured to possess myself of Saul's crown.
I have trusted
Had I acted otherwise, I could not have been prosperous; for thou wouldst not have worked miracles for the preservation of a wicked man.
I shall not slide.
I shall be preserved from swerving from the paths of righteousness and truth.
Examine me, O Lord
To thee I appeal; and feel no hesitation in wishing to have all the motives of my heart dissected and exposed to thy view, and to that of the world.
For thy loving-kindness
A sense of thy favour and approbation was more to my heart than thrones and sceptres; and in order to retain this blessing, I have walked in thy truth.
I have not sat with vain persons
methey shav, men of lies, dissemblers, backbiters,
Neither will I go in with dissemblers
naalamim, the hidden ones, the dark designers, the secret plotters and conspirators in the state.
I have hated the congregation of evil doers
I have never made one in the crowds of discontented persons; persons who, under pretense of rectifying what was wrong in the state, strove to subvert it, to breed general confusion, to overturn the laws, seize on private property, and enrich themselves by the spoils of the country.
I will wash mine hands in innocency
Washing the hands was frequent among the Jews, and was sometimes an action by which a man declared his innocence of any base or wicked transaction. This Pilate did, to protest his innocence of the mal-treatment and death of Christ. I will maintain that innocence of life in which I have hitherto walked; and take care that nothing shall be found in my heart or life that would prevent me from using the most holy ordinance, or worshipping thee in spirit and truth.
So will I compass thine altar
It is a mark of respect among the Hindoos to walk several times round a superior, and round a temple.
That I may publish
I have endeavoured to act so as always to keep a conscience void of offence towards thee and towards man. I have made a profession of faith in thee, and salvation from thee, and my practice gives no lie to my profession.
Lord, I have loved the habitation of thy house
I have carefully used thine ordinances, that I might obtain more grace to help me to persevere. And I have not been attentive to those duties, merely because they were incumbent on me; but I have loved the place where thine honour dwelleth; and my delight in thy ordinances has made my attendance as pleasant as it was profitable. This verse would be better translated, Jehovah, I have loved the habitation of thy house, and the place of the tabernacle of thy glory. The habitation must mean the holy of holies, where the Divine Presence was manifest; and the place of the tabernacle must refer to the mercy-seat, or the place where the glory of the Lord appeared between the cherubim, upon the lid or cover of the ark of the covenant. From his dwelling there, mishcan, the place and the appearance were called shechinah; the dwelling of Jehovah, or that glorious appearance which was the symbol of the Divine Presence.
Gather not my soul with sinners
As I have never loved their company, nor followed their practice, let not my eternal lot be cast with them! I neither love them nor their ways; may I never be doomed to spend an eternity with them!
Their right hand is full of bribes
He speaks of persons in office, who took bribes to pervert judgment and justice.
But as for me, I will walk in mine integrity
Whatever I may have to do with public affairs, shall be done with the strictest attention to truth, justice, and mercy.
From all snares and plots laid against my life and my soul.
And be merciful unto me.
I deserve no good, but thou art merciful; deal with me ever in thy mercy.
My foot standeth in an even place
On the above principles I have taken my stand: to abhor evil; to cleave to that which is good; to avoid the company of wicked men; to frequent the ordinances of God; to be true and just in all my dealings with men; and to depend for my support and final salvation on the mere mercy of God. He who acts in this way, his feet stand in an even place.
I will bless the Lord.
In all my transactions with men, and in all my assemblings with holy people, I will speak good of the name of the Lord, having nothing but good to speak of that name.
ANALYSIS OF THE TWENTY-SIXTH PSALM
There are four general parts in this Psalm:-
I. An appeal of David to God to be his Judge, Psalms 26:1,2.
II. The causes that induced him to make the appeal. His conscious innocence, integrity,
III. A petition, Psalms 26:9,11.
IV. His gratitude, Psalms 26:12.
I. He begins with his appeal to God, whom he knew to be a just Judge; and therefore desires to be dealt with according to law: "Judge me; examine me; prove me; try me; even my reins and my heart."
II. Then he assigns two causes of it; his integrity and his faith.
1. His faith and confidence in God were such that he knew that the Judge of all the world would do him right. "I have trusted in the Lord, therefore, I shall not slide." I will not change my religion, though powerfully tempted to do so.
2. His integrity: "I have walked in my integrity." For which he assigns the cause: "Thy loving-kindness is before my eyes; I have walked in thy truth." I follow thy word, and the principle it lays down.
Next he sets down his integrity by an injunction of parts, which were two: 1. How he carried himself to men; 2. How he conducted himself towards God.
1. He abstained from all society, confederacy, counsels, and intimacy with wicked men; he did hate and abominate their ways: "I have not sat in counsel with vain persons, neither will I go in with dissemblers. I have hated the congregation of evil doers, and will not sit with the wicked."
2. The other degree of his integrity was, his piety: "I will wash my hands in innocence," i.e., I will worship thee; and for this end he would keep his hands from blood, oppression, order that he "might publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all the wondrous works of the Lord."
3. He mentions a second act of his piety, his love to God's house, and the service done in it: "O Lord, I have loved the habitation of thy house, and the place where thy honour dwelleth."
III. Upon which conscientiousness of his integrity he falls to prayer, that God would not suffer him to be polluted with the conversation of wicked men, nor involved in their punishment: "Gather not my soul with sinners."
Observe the many titles he gives to wicked men:-
1. They are vain persons; void of the fear of God; irreligious, Psalms 26:4.
2. Deep, dark men; saying one thing with their mouth, and another with their heart, Psalms 26:4.
3. Malignant; doing all for their own ends, Psalms 26:5.
4. Impious; regardless of God and religion, Psalms 26:5.
5. Sinners; traders in wickedness, Psalms 26:9.
6. Blood-thirsty men; cruel and revengeful. Psalms 26:9.
7. Mischievous; ready to execute with their hands what they had plotted in their heart, Psalms 26:10.
8. Lovers of bribes; perverting judgment for the sake of money, Psalms 26:10.
With such David will have nothing to do: "But as for me, I will walk in my integrity." Redeem me from such people, and be merciful to me.
IV. Lastly. He shows his gratitude. "My foot stands in an even place;" hitherto I am sure I am in the good way. I will therefore praise the Lord in the congregation; not only privately, but publicly.
My foot hath hitherto been kept right by thy grace and mercy; therefore, when thou shalt bring me back again to thy temple, I will not be ungrateful, but will sing praises to thy name in and with the great congregation. Amen.