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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.

1. Judge me, O Jehovah! I have just said, that David betakes himself to the judgment of God, because he found neither equity nor humanity among men. The Hebrew word which is rendered to judge, signifies to undertake the cognisance of a cause. The meaning here, therefore, is as if David called upon God to be the defender of his right. 567567     Hammond renders the original word, “Plead for, or defend me;” and Green, “Vindicate me.” The word denotes both the act of a judge and of an advocate. This last view agrees very well with the scope of the psalm, which, from the strong assertions of innocence with which it abounds, appears to have been written by David in vindication of himself from various crimes which had been alleged against him; although the particular events to which it refers are not indicated. When God leaves us for a time to the injuries and petulance of our enemies, he seems to neglect our cause; but when he restrains them from assailing us at their pleasure he clearly demonstrates that the defense of our cause is the object of his care. Let us, therefore, learn from the example of David, when we are destitute of man’s aid, to have recourse to the judgment-seat of God, and to rely upon his protection. The clause which follows is variously explained by interpreters. Some read it in connection with the first clause, Judge me, O Jehovah! because I have walked in mine integrity; but others refer it to the last clause, Because I have walked in mine integrity, therefore I shall not stumble. In my opinion, it may be properly connected with both. As it is the proper work of God to maintain and defend righteous causes, the Psalmist, in constituting him his defender, summons him as the witness of his integrity and trust, and thus conceives the hope of obtaining his aid. If, on the other hand, any one thinks that the clauses should be separated, it seems most probable that this sentence, judge me, O Lord! should be read by itself; and then that the second prayer should follow, that God would not allow him to stumble, because he had behaved himself inoffensively and uprightly, etc. But there is a force in the possessive pronoun my, which interpreters have overlooked. For David does not simply aver that he had been upright, but that he had constantly proceeded in an upright course, without being driven from his purpose, however powerful the devices by which he had been assailed. When wicked men attack us with a view to overwhelm us, either by force or fraud, we know how difficult it is to preserve always the same fortitude. We place our hope of victory in endeavoring resolutely and vigorously to oppose force to force, and art to art. And this is a temptation which so much the more affects honest and steady men, who are otherwise zealous to do well, when the cruelty of their enemies compels them to turn aside from the right path. Let us, therefore, learn from the example of David, even when an opportunity of injuring our enemies is offered us, and when by various methods they force and provoke us, to remain firm in our course, and not suffer ourselves to be diverted in any manner from persevering in the path of our integrity.

2. Prove me, 568568     The primary signification of the Hebrew word צרף, tsaraph is to try as the refiner tries his gold by dissolving and melting it, In this sense it is used in Psalm 66:10, “Thou hast tried us as silver is tried.” O Jehovah! The more that David observed himself basely and undeservedly pursued with calumnies, the more powerfully was he excited by the vehemence of his grief fearlessly to assert his rectitude. Nor does he merely clear himself of outward sins; he glories also in the uprightness of his heart, and the purity of its affections, tacitly comparing himself, at the same time, with his enemies. As they were gross hypocrites, proudly boasting of their reverence for God, he lays open before him their shameless effrontery and hardihood. This protestation, too, shows how intimately acquainted he was with himself, when he durst offer to submit the whole recesses of his heart to the examination of God. It is to be observed, however, that it was the wickedness of his enemies which forced him to commend himself so much. Had he not been unjustly condemned by men, he would have humbly deprecated such an examination, as he well knew, notwithstanding his zeal to act aright, that he was far from perfection. But when he felt himself to be falsely accused, the injustice and cruelty of men emboldened him to appeal to God’s judgment-seat without hesitation. And as he knew that an external appearance of innocence was of no avail there, he brings forward the honest uprightness of his heart. The distinction which some make here, that the heart signifies the higher affections, and the reins those that are sensual (as they term them) and more gross, is more subtle than solid. We know that the Hebrews understood by the term reins that which is most secret in men. David, therefore, conscious of his innocence, offers the whole man to the examination of God; not like careless, or rather stupid men, who, flattering themselves, imagine that they will deceive God with their pretences. It is evident, on the contrary, that he had honestly and thoroughly searched himself, before he presented himself with such confidence in the divine presence. And this we must especially bear in mind, if we would desire to obtain the approbation of God, that when unjustly persecuted, we must not only abstain from retaliation, but also persevere in a right spirit.

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