Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, June 20th, 2024
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 26

Kingcomments on the Whole BibleKingcomments

Verses 1-3


In Psalm 25 and Psalm 26 we find something similar to what we find in Psalm 5 and Psalm 6. In Psalm 5 we find that the believing remnant acknowledges their sinful condition in the light of God, while in Psalm 6 the remnant appeals to their righteousness, to their righteous actions. That is not in conflict with each other. It is both true.

Psalm 25 ends with the psalmist’s desire to be integrous and upright (Psalms 25:21). In Psalm 26, the psalmist also begins and ends with a testimony of his integrity (Psalms 26:1 and Psalms 26:11).

In Psalm 25, the remnant sees themselves in the light of God and confesses their sins, while in Psalm 26 they testify of their innocence. They do so on the basis of the forgiveness of their sins, which enables them to come to God, into His house (Psalms 26:6-Ruth :). Psalm 26 is the first psalm in a series of five psalms in which the house of God has an important place (Psalms 26-30).

Declaration of Integrity

For “[a Psalm] of David” (Psalms 26:1) see at Psalm 3:1.

The psalm is a prayer for redemption (Psalms 26:11), which here means ‘acquit me’. David asks the LORD to vindicate him (Psalms 26:1). He is asking for a court judgment. He wants a declaration of innocence concerning the false accusations made against him by his enemies. He gives the reason that he is going his way in his integrity (Psalms 26:11). This is not a presumption nor is it a declaration of sinlessness. It is here in defense against false accusations. Paul said something similar (1 Thessalonians 2:10).

David confessed his sins and received forgiveness. He walks, to put it in New Testament terms, in the light (1 John 1:7) and has fellowship with God. He trusts in the LORD. He is sure that he will not waver because he trusts in the unwavering God.

A believer does not want to hide anything from anyone he loves and therefore certainly not from God. David has nothing to hide. He does not defend himself against the false accusations with strong oaths, that nothing of it is true, but takes his refuge in God. We can take an example from David. It drives him out to God with the desire to examine him, try him and test him (Psalms 26:2).

“Examine” – Hebrew bahan – means to examine for quality, for example, metals; this involves integrity. “Try” – Hebrew nasa – means verification of genuineness. “Test” – Hebrew sarap – means to melt, to purify; this involves the removal of contamination.

He makes himself available for a deep inner – to which “mind” [literally “kidneys”, figurative for inner man] and “heart” point – examination by the LORD. The psalmist is not only concerned with his actions being judged, but also the thoughts, motivation and feelings behind them. In doing so, the psalmist asks the LORD to totally fathom him (cf. Psalms 139:23).

We must do the same. God may judge, not the enemies, but us. The figurative speech used is that of precious metal put into a melting furnace to test its purity.

He wants to be completely open to God. He says this with boldness because he keeps God’s lovingkindness, that is, the LORD’s covenant faithfulness, in mind (Psalms 26:3). He can do this because he walks in God’s truth (cf. 2 Kings 20:3; 3 John 1:4). One of the first features of God-fearing is the desire to know what truth is and to live by it.

Truth here is the faithfulness of God and His commandments. It is not ‘knowing the truth’, for truth does not consist only, as we sometimes think, of doctrines. Whoever walks in the truth knows that God’s delight rests upon him. The emphasis is on walking, that is, the practice of life. This life is focused on the lovingkindness or God’s covenant faithfulness. It is David’s desire to live in such a way that this remains the case. That is why he longs for this examination by God.

Verses 4-8

Proofs of Integrity

David proves his integrity by pointing out, on the one hand, his separation from sinners (Psalms 26:4-Deuteronomy :) and, on the other, his love for God and His house (Psalms 26:6-Ruth :). It seems that David was accused of close contact with wicked people and would have become unfaithful to his God as a result. He makes no claim to perfection, but does plead for acquittal of those imputations, while pointing to his love for God and His house.

David wants nothing to do with deceitful men and pretenders (Psalms 26:4). He does not want to sit with them or go with them (Psalms 1:1; Jeremiah 15:17). Those who walk in integrity do not want to. Deceitful men are people who are not integrous and not honest; they are unreliable ramblings. It is unthinkable that he could sit with them, as if he were comfortable with them. Pretenders are the hypocrites, people with hidden, depraved plans. They give the appearance of being friends, but they are out to harm you in the grossest way.

Instead of love for “evildoers” there will be hatred for being part of their “assembly” (Psalms 26:5). Evildoers are a separate company in God’s people. They do not have the good of God’s people in mind, but set out to do evil to that people. Nor does he “sit with the wicked”. He does not want to be involved with them in any way or give the impression of feeling at home in their company. They are a complete antithesis to him.

This also applies to us, believers of the church. Those who live with God do not want fellowship with such people. It is not about people who think differently from us about certain things in God’s Word, but about apostates. Unfortunately, there are also people among God’s people who do so anyway. If a member of God’s people has fellowship with such people, God cannot have fellowship with such a person (2 Corinthians 6:14-Job :).

Whoever imitates David in this attitude toward the apostates, should not count on approval in Christianity and certainly not in the world. Those who love fellowship with God will joyfully bear the reproach that separation from the world and the Christian world brings.

David made it clear that he has no fellowship with apostate sinners. After having said what he has not done he says what he has done (Psalms 26:6). He says with Whom he does have fellowship and with Whom he does feel at home. First he pleads his innocence again. He laid his hands on the sacrifice to confess his sins after which the sacrifice was slaughtered. As a result, the sins were taken away.

In this way he has washed his hands – a picture of a cleansed and therefore pure conscience (Psalms 73:13). He has clean hands (cf. Deuteronomy 21:6; 1 Timothy 2:8). Originally this precept was only for the priests. Before they could do their service, they had to wash their hands and feet (Exodus 30:18-Ecclesiastes :). Later the laity did similar ritual washings, and even Pilate. Clearly, it is about the spiritual significance. Therefore, what Pilate did was a gross lie. He washed his hands (Matthew 27:24), while smearing them by personally handing over the Innocent to be crucified.

As far as David knew, he confessed all his sins (Psalms 25:18). He is, contrary to the deceit in Psalms 26:4, honest and integrous. He has clean hands. Therefore, he can boldly go to God’s altar and go about it, that is worship there. On the altar, where the atoning sacrifice was brought, he can now offer sacrifices of thanksgiving.

The altar speaks of the Lord Jesus, as does the sacrifice, for the Lord Jesus offered Himself as a sacrifice to God. The picture is that the believer who goes to the altar has fellowship with the Lord Jesus as well as with others who are also there (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:18; Leviticus 7:6; Leviticus 7:15). This is a huge contrast to the fellowship with sinners that David spoke of earlier, which he had no part in. Not only that, he greatly disliked their practice and attitude toward life (Psalms 26:5).

The worship service of the believer is to give thanks to God (Psalms 26:7). As in Psalms 26:6, it is still personal in this verse. Later, in Psalms 26:12, the heart expands and David does so in the midst of others in the congregations. We had something similar in Psalm 25, which was a personal struggle of David, but ends in an intercession for the people (Psalms 25:22).

In the thanksgiving here, David sings of all the wonders God has done for him (Psalms 66:16; Psalms 145:5-Joshua :). This is a great example for us to practice worship. We may “continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name” (Hebrews 13:15). There is always plenty of reason to honor God. Do we still see the wonders God has done and continues to do for us? Do we sing about them and tell Him about them?

In Psalms 26:8, David speaks of his love for the place where God’s altar stands. The elaborate way in which he speaks of God’s house makes it clear how important that place is to him. David speaks of “house” and “place”, a double expression of the dwelling place of God. This is a preparation for Psalm 27 where the house of God occupies a predominant place. In this sense, Psalm 26 is a bridge between Psalm 25 and Psalm 27.

For David, the house where God dwells is the tent where he brought the ark (cf. 2 Samuel 15:25). Later, this place is the temple. It is the dwelling place of God’s glory, the shechinah, the symbol of His presence. A house or a dwelling place is more than just a place to be, it is also to ‘feel at home’ there.

For us now, the church is the dwelling place of God. That is where His glory, which is Christ, lives. We can experience this when we come together as a church. The Lord Jesus said of that place: “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst” (Matthew 18:20). Do we love that place too?

Verses 9-12

Reward for Integrity

After his expressions of love for the dwelling place of God, David returns in Psalms 26:9 to the sinners and the men of bloodshed (cf. Psalms 26:4-Deuteronomy :). He finds himself, as he has said, not in their company. He did not want to have to do with the lifestyle of the wicked. Now, therefore, he asks the LORD not to let him share in the fate of the wicked. The “sinners” are those who have yielded to a life of sin and rebellion against God. They are “the men of bloodshed”, or violent, bloodthirsty people.

God will take away their lives. This is just, for they have not washed their hands in innocence. On the contrary, their hands, their actions, are marked by “a wicked scheme” and bribery (Psalms 26:10). With them he does not want to be associated in life nor in death. He distances himself as far as possible from people who openly commit crimes and from people who secretly carry out their pernicious acts.

Very different, completely opposite, is his attitude, which he indicates by saying: “But as for me.” He repeats what he said in Psalms 26:1, that he goes his way in his “integrity” (Psalms 26:11). By beginning and ending with this point, he emphasizes it and now boldly asks for redemption.

At the same time, he asks that God to be gracious to him. Here we see that David is not claiming a right to redemption because he is integrous. He is integrous, he realizes, because God made him so, and he lives integrous, he also realizes, because God enables him to do so. Redemption can never take place on the basis of any merit of man.

David testifies in the last verse of the answer to his prayer (Psalms 26:12). He says that his “foot stands on a level place”. It is a place that God has levelled for him, that is, a place from which God has removed all obstacles to stumbling, so that the believer is in no danger of wavering and stumbling (cf. Isaiah 40:4; Isaiah 42:16).

Then David speaks about that he will “bless” or “praise the LORD” in “the congregations” of God’s people. The leveled the place, so to speak, for the congregations to share with others his thanksgiving for the deeds of God and the wonders He has done. This is also the beauty of the meetings of the Christian church. We come together and together we can glorify God for the work that His Son has accomplished for each member of the church personally and for the church as a whole.

The psalm calls for a careful self-examination of our devotion to God. It corresponds to what the apostle Paul says to the Corinthians in connection with partaking of the Lord’s Supper: “But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup” (1 Corinthians 11:28). Those who take the Lord’s Supper seriously will examine themselves.

This self-examination, this “examining himself”, is necessary. Self-examination always has a result. It may be that we remember things that are not good; we can then get rid of them by confessing them (cf. Matthew 5:23-Jeremiah :). It can also be that we are sincerely unaware of anything; then we can participate in the Lord’s Supper without fear.

Staying away from the Lord’s Supper or letting the Lord’s Supper pass us by is by no means the ideal solution. We would then let the obstacle or sin triumph over our love for the Lord Jesus. No, let us test ourselves, get rid of the hindrance or the wrong and eat the bread in this way and drink the cup in this way, while we glorify Him for what He has done.

Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Psalms 26". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/psalms-26.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.
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