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Psalm 26

Plea for Justice and Declaration of Righteousness

Of David.


Vindicate me, O L ord,

for I have walked in my integrity,

and I have trusted in the L ord without wavering.


Prove me, O L ord, and try me;

test my heart and mind.


For your steadfast love is before my eyes,

and I walk in faithfulness to you.



I do not sit with the worthless,

nor do I consort with hypocrites;


I hate the company of evildoers,

and will not sit with the wicked.



I wash my hands in innocence,

and go around your altar, O L ord,


singing aloud a song of thanksgiving,

and telling all your wondrous deeds.



O L ord, I love the house in which you dwell,

and the place where your glory abides.


Do not sweep me away with sinners,

nor my life with the bloodthirsty,


those in whose hands are evil devices,

and whose right hands are full of bribes.



But as for me, I walk in my integrity;

redeem me, and be gracious to me.


My foot stands on level ground;

in the great congregation I will bless the L ord.

6. I will wash my hands in purity. Referring, in these words, to the ordinary use of the sacrifices, he makes a distinction between himself and those who professed to offer the same divine worship, and thrust themselves forward in the services of the sanctuary, as if they alone had the sole right to perform them. As David, therefore, and these hypocrites were one in this respect, that they entered the sanctuary, and surrounded the sacred altar together, he proceeds to show that he was a true worshipper, declaring, that he not only diligently attended to the external rites, but came to worship God with unfeigned devotion. It is obvious that he alludes to the solemn rite of washing which was practiced under the law. 571571     The washing of the hands in solemn protestation of innocence, on particular occasions, was enjoined by the Mosaic ritual, and was common among the Jews, Deuteronomy 21:6, 7. It was in common use among them before prayer; and the priests, in particular, were not to perform any sacred office in the sanctuary until they had poured water from the laver, which was set in the temple for that purpose, and washed their hands, Exodus 40:30-33. He, accordingly, reproves the gross superstition of hypocrites, who in seeking only the purification of water, neglected true purification; whereas it was God’s design, in the appointment of the outward sign, to put men in mind of their inward pollution, and thus to encourage them to repentance. The outward washing alone, instead of profiting hypocrites, kept them at a greater distance from God. When the Psalmist, therefore, says, I will wash my hands in innocence, he intimates that they only gather more pollution and filth by their washings. The Hebrew word נקיון, nikkayon, signifies the cleanness of any thing, and is figuratively used for innocence. We thus see, that as hypocrites derive no moral purity whatever from their washings, David mocks at the labor with which they vainly toil and torment themselves in such rites. However high, therefore, the wicked may be exalted in the Church, and though crowds of them should fill our sanctuaries, let us, after the example of David, celebrate the outward profession of our faith in such a manner as not deceitfully to substitute its external rites in the room of true devotion. Thus shall we be pure and free from all stain of wickedness. Moreover, as the people were not permitted to touch the altar, David uses the word encompass. 572572     Mudge conjectures that the expression, encompass, is probably taken from the custom of forming a ring round the altar at the time of worship. And Goodwyn informs us, that at the feast of tabernacles the people, on the seventh day, encompassed the altar seven times, carrying branches of palm trees in their hands in remembrance of the overthrow of Jericho, and singing hosannas. — Moses and Aaron, p. 132. David, however, may refer to the practice of the priests, who, when they offered sacrifices, went round about the altar; and his meaning may simply be, that as the priests first washed their hands, and then performed their sacred office at the altar; so he deeply felt the necessity of personal purity, in order to his engaging in the service of God.

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