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A Psalm of David.
This psalm, like the one preceding, draws a bold line between the holy and the unholy, and expresses strong confidence in the very diverse judgments of God in regard to them. The psalmist himself is in persecution and peril, and makes his appeal from the slanderous imputations of men to the just judgment of God. Unlike Psalms 25:0, which thrice makes confession of sin, the plea is here grounded upon his integrity and uprightness. But this plea is not to be understood as one of absolute faultlessness, much less of self-righteousness, but of innocence of the crimes alleged against him by his enemies, and of any complicity with deceitful and wicked men. He had offered no provocation for the bitter enmity of his persecutors, and held no affinities with men with whom they had classed him. On the contrary, he had “hated the congregation of evil doers,” he had loved the house of God, his habit of life had been religious, and its spirit and record bore witness to his sincerity. The psalm was evidently written during the rebellion of Absalom. See 2 Samuel 15:0, et seq.
1. Judge me, O Lord He appeals directly to the omniscience and righteousness of God for vindication.
Integrity Wholeheartedness; the doing in good faith and whole consent what was believed to be right.
2. Examine me Search me, try me as metals in the fire, as the word denotes. He invites the Searcher of hearts to institute the closest scrutiny, so self-conscious was he of upright intentions.
Reins… heart An intensive form of speech denoting the innermost thoughts and feelings. He uncovers all his thoughts before God, and submits himself to the divine mercy and judgment. See on Psalms 16:7; Psalms 25:6
3. Lovingkindness… truth Same as “mercy and truth,” Psalms 25:10, which see. God’s truth had been the line by which he walked, and his saving mercy the end he sought. See John 3:21
4. Hitherto David has based his prayer upon his relation to God; in Psalms 26:4-5 he pleads his discreet and pure associations with men.
Vain persons Literally, mortals of vanity, or emptiness. “Vanity” is here used generically for evil or wickedness of all sorts, especially falsehood and deceit.
Go in with dissemblers To “go in” is to join, unite with, have familiar intercourse with. “Dissemblers” are, literally, the veiled men, the concealed, hidden men, men who cover up their real motives.
6. Wash mine hands in innocency As a sign of innocence. The symbol is explained Deuteronomy 21:6. Compare Psalm 27:24. Or, as approach to the altar immediately follows, it may refer to the custom of the priests. See on Exodus 30:17-21; Psalms 24:4 and Psalms 73:13.
Compass Supposed by some to refer to the marching in solemn procession round the altar, but more probably means “near and habitual approach.” Hupfeld.
7. That I may publish For this purpose he approaches the altar and joins in the public praise.
Wondrous works “The latest of these is the bringing him home from the exile he had suffered because of the rebellion of Absalom.” Delitzsch.
8. Lord, I… loved He loved God’s house, but “hated the congregation of evil doers,” Psalms 26:5. Psalms 26:6-8; Psalms 26:6-8 are a plea in support of his integrity and for the judgment of God in his behalf, based upon his love for the house and worship of God, which he urges as proof of his sincere love to God.
9. His prayer concludes with a deprecation (Psalms 26:9-10) of the doom of the wicked.
Gather not my soul with sinners The word for “gather” often means to take away, as in Isaiah 16:10: “And gladness is taken away.” Psalms 104:29: “ Thou takest away their breath. Ezekiel 34:29; 2 Chronicles 34:28; Isaiah 57:1. “Gather not away my soul with sinners,” is a clear and emphatic recognition of the common faith in a future state, and the future punishment of the wicked.
Nor my life A repetition of the prayer of the preceding line.
10. Mischief The word here denotes crime, infamy.
Full of bribes See on Psalms 15:5
11. But as for me Against all the forms of evil and evil men described hitherto, the psalmist opposes his own purpose and desire to “walk in his integrity.” This is the reason why his prayer should be heard.
12. An even place In a level and plain path.
In the congregations In the public assemblies, which implies his restoration to Jerusalem and the regular worship a pledge of the acceptance of all his petitions.
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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Psalms 26". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany