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Psalm 26

Psalm 26: Vindicate me and be gracious to me, or blessing not judgment

Summary

Apparently David is under some kind of attack. He asks Yahweh to declare him righteous and deliver him because of his life and his faith, and asks Yahweh to examine him—his conscience and his volition. He has kept Yahweh’s lovingkindness before him and has walked in Yahweh’s truth.  He has avoided sin and sinners. He will fellowship with Yahweh with clean hands, will participate in the sanctuary ritual, and will proclaim Yahweh’s works. Furthermore, David loves the sanctuary where he has safety and where Yahweh’s glory meets him, and asks that Yahweh will not judge him with sinners. David closes with a statements of his loyalty, his humble need for grace, his commitment to faith in Yahweh, and his assurance of Yahweh’s acceptance.

Outline

  1. Psalm 26.1. David asks God to vindicate him because his life and faith are right.
  2. Psalm 26.2-8. David asks Yahweh to examine his conscience and thinking and knows that he will pass the exams.
    • Psalm 26.3. David’s focus is on Yahweh’s lovingkindness and faithfulness.
    • Psalm 26.4-5. David avoids sinful associations.
    • Psalm 26.6-8. David is spiritually clean, and so will participate in the worship of Yahweh in the sanctuary he loves, and he will thank Yahweh and tell of Yahweh’s marvelous wonders.
  3. Psalm 26.9-12. David asks Yahweh to keep him from judgment associated with sinners, and affirms that he will walk correctly and stand faithfully.
    • Psalm 26.9-10. David asks Yahweh to keep him from judgment.
    • Psalm 26.11. David affirms his loyal walk and asks for rescue and gracious mercy.
    • Psalm 26.12. David affirms his faithful life and will bless Yahweh.

History

This Psalm possibly has the Absalom rebellion as its historical background. See 2 Samuel 13-18.

Verse summary

  1. Psalm 26.1-2. David asks Yahweh to test him and declare him righteous because of his life and his faith. Vindicate is שָׁפַט shapat, to judge, to decide. In context to judge and find innocent. David appeals to no one but Yahweh. He has made his choice for allegiance no matter what may come. In this condition David is secure and confident. This is really the way we should live. Furthermore, he asks Yahweh to examine, try, and test him and his conscience and his volition.  The verbs are somewhat parallel and the meaning is to examine and prove that David meets God’s approval. David is sure of the LORD’S verdict. Paul, in 1 Corinthians 4.1-4 shows this same kind of confident assurance. Do we have that confidence?
    • Psalm 26.1. David walked (lived) in integrity (תֹּם tom, completeness, integrity; also Psalm 26.11), and trusted (בָּטַח batach trust, rely on) Yahweh without wavering (מָֽעַד  ma`ad, waver, totter, slip, 2 Samuel 22.37; Psalm 18.36). See 1 Kings 9.4; Psalm 25.21 David’s life is right and in order. The emphasis is on the picture of his day to day life and his faith. What he does, how he lives, and his continual faith throughout the day. Note the objects of the verbs: integrity of David, and Yahweh.
    • Psalm 26.2. The inner most being (kilya) is the word for kidneys and refers to his conscience (Psalm 7.9; 16.7; 73.21; Proverbs 23.16). The heart (leb) is the center of thought and volition (Gen 6.5; Exodus 4.21).
  2. Psalm 26.3-5. David now states his focus on the LORD. He avoids sinful people and sinful groups.
    • Psalm 26.3. He focuses his attention on Yahweh’s lovingkindness (חֶסֶד hesed). Hesed has embedded within it mercy and kindness, faithfulness and covenant keeping, truth and certainty, and steadfastness. Each context helps identify its particular emphasis.  It refers to God’s sure and lasting mercy, love, and faithfulness. David applies what the New Testament says: fixing your eyes on Jesus. The second line says that David walks or lives in Yahweh’s truth or faithfulness (אֱמֶת emet, the Hebrew word means both). In the context is probably refers to God’s faithfulness in keeping his words. David focuses on Yahweh’s steadfast love and always reliable to David. We can do the same.
    • Psalm 26.4-5. David stays away from trouble makers, both as individuals and as groups of them. Note the four English words—deceitful men (shav’ vain, empty. LXX mataiotes), pretenders (`alam, to conceal, secret, hidden. LXX paranomeo break the law), evildoers (ra`a` evil, bad. LXX ponereuomai act in a wicked manner), wicked (rasha` wicked, criminal. LXX asebes impious, ungodly).
    • Psalm 26.6-8. David is spiritually clean, and so will participate in the worship of Yahweh in the sanctuary he loves, and he will thank Yahweh and tell of Yahweh’s marvelous wonders. The emphasis is that David prepares for fellowship that he will have with God in the sanctuary.
      • Psalm 26.6. Washing the hands indicates freedom from involvement in a sinful act and therefore free from guilt. David is able to participate in the sanctuary worship of the LORD. See Deuteronomy 21.6-7.
      • Psalm 26.7. David’s innocence allows him to honestly proclaim (cause to hear, hiphil infinitive) with thanksgiving and declare (סָפַר sāpar to count, recount, rehearse, declare, publish) Yahweh’s wonders (פָּלָא pala’, to do something wonderful or too difficult, or miraculous).
      • Psalm 26.8. David loves the place where God’s glory meets with his people, in the sanctuary which is the tabernacle. It is the place he goes for safety from his enemies. It is both a refuge, (Psalm 71.3; 91.9) and a place where the LORD’S glory (כָבוֹד kābôd  Psalm 63.2) resides for his people. People would go to the sanctuary to be reminded about God’s great glory and power, and this would give them confidence and a sense of safety.
  3. Psalm 26.9-12. David asks Yahweh to keep him from judgment with sinners, and affirms that he will walk correctly and stand faithfully.
    • Psalm 26.9-10. David asks Yahweh to keep him from judgment. He does not want to share God’s judgment on sinners, men who shed blood.
      • Psalm 26.9. These are violent and vicious men. Sinners and men of bloodshed are parallel. These are like murderous men in our day.
      • Psalm 26.10. The wicked schemes speak of their plans to destroy innocent people, including David. Bribes indicate they can be bought or hired to carry out their evil plans. They are paid assassins.
    • Psalm 26.11. David affirms his loyal walk and asks for rescue and gracious mercy, see Psalm 4.1. David returns to his opening plea of Psalm 26.1. David will walk in his integrity (תֹּם tom, completeness, innocence, integrity). Here we see his loyalty and his humility.
    • Psalm 26.12. David affirms his faithful life and will bless Yahweh.
      • The foot speaks of a firm and righteous foundation. He has faith in Yahweh and loves the tabernacle dwelling of the LORD. His life has the only sure foundation. He has assurance the Yahweh accepts him.

So what for us?

  1. Are each of us willing to have the LORD examine us? This psalm reminds us to please the LORD so we may pass any divine examination of our lives. We do this by following biblical standards and by having unwavering faith in the LORD. See Deuteronomy 8.2; Psalm 17.3; 139.23-24; Proverbs 17.3; Philippians 1.9-11; Colossians 1.9-12; 1 Peter 1.7).
  2. God looks inside of us—our conscience (mind) and volition or choices (heart). Do we have a trained, strong, and clean conscience and do we make the right choices? See Psalm 7.8-9; 139.23-24; Proverbs 16.2; 1 Samuel 16.7-8; 1 Kings 8.39; Isaiah 55.8-9; Jeremiah 11.20; 17.10; 20.12; Acts 1.24; Hebrews 4.13; 1 John 3.20.
  3. I should focus on the LORD’S lovingkindness and his word to keep my spiritual and moral uprightness—integrity. See Exodus 34.5-8; Numbers 14.17-21; Psalm 6.4; 13.5; 23.6; 52.1; 85.10-13; 89.1; 136.3.
  4. We, like David, should avoid the company and plans of evil people. Pick friends and associates carefully because they have strong influence on us. See Psalm 1.1-2; 64.1-2; Proverbs 1.10-19; 4.14-15, 19; 13.20.
  5. Prepare for fellowship with God in church so we can genuinely participate in the church service. See Psalm 24.3-6; 32.1-6; 43.1-5; 51; 73.25-28; John 13.1-11; 1 John 1.
  6. We can find spiritual refuge when we know we are in God’s presence. That is our safe place. See Psalm 16.1-2; 18.2,30; 26.12; 27.1-2, 4-5, 14; 31.1-8, 14-15; 46.1; 73.28; 84.10; 91.2; Proverbs 30.5.
  7. Do we consistently trust the LORD, or are we careless about trusting him? Is our spiritual foot or foundation on Yahweh? Is our faith firm. See Psalm 9.1-2, 10; 25.2; 27.14; 37.5; 40.2; 56.3; 115.11; 146.3-6; Proverbs 3.5-6; Lamentations 3.19-26; 1 Peter 1.21.
  8. We should bless Yahweh, say good things about him when we assemble. See Deuteronomy 8.10; Psalm 34.1-3; 103.1-2, 20-22; 107.32; 111.1; 135.1-3, 19-21; 145; James 3.9.