|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
26:9 David, in this psalm, appeals to God touching his integrity. - David here, by the Spirit of prophecy, speaks of himself as a type of Christ, of whom what he here says of his spotless innocence was fully and eminently true, and of Christ only, and to Him we may apply it. We are complete in him. The man that walks in his integrity, yet trusting wholly in the grace of God, is in a state of acceptance, according to the covenant of which Jesus was the Mediator, in virtue of his spotless obedience even unto death. This man desires to have his inmost soul searched and proved by the Lord. He is aware of the deceitfulness of his own heart; he desires to detect and mortify every sin; and he longs to be satisfied of his being a true believer, and to practise the holy commands of God. Great care to avoid bad company, is both a good evidence of our integrity, and a good means to keep us in it. Hypocrites and dissemblers may be found attending on God's ordinances; but it is a good sign of sincerity, if we attend upon them, as the psalmist here tells us he did, in the exercise of repentance and conscientious obedience. He feels his ground firm under him; and, as he delights in blessing the Lord with his congregations on earth, he trusts that shortly he shall join the great assembly in heaven, in singing praises to God and to the Lamb for evermore.
Verse 6. - I will wash mine hands in innoceney; so will I compass thine altar, O Lord. This seems to be the key-note of the psalm. If not a necessary, it is at any rate a probable, exegesis, that David composed this psalm on an occasion when he was about to offer a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving to God for some mercy recently vouchsafed him (ver. 7). Before offering, he feels the necessity of doing spiritually that which the priest' who officiated would have to do ceremonially (Exodus 30:17-21) - to "wash his hands in innocency, and so to go to God's altar." His self-justification from ver. 1 to ver. 5 has had for its object to clear him from guilt.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
I will wash my hands in innocency,.... The Vulgate Latin version renders it, "among innocent persons"; men of a holy harmless life and conversation; with these he determined to converse in common, and not with such as before described; or the sense is, that he would wash his hands, in token of his innocence, integrity, and uprightness, he had before spoke of, and of his having nothing to do with such evil men as now mentioned; see Deuteronomy 21:6; "hands" are the instrument of action, and to "wash" them may design the performance of good works, Job 9:30; and to do this "in innocency", or "purity", may signify the performance of them from a pure heart, a good conscience, and faith unfeigned; and particularly may have some respect to the lifting up of holy hands in prayer to God, previous to public worship; there seems to be an allusion to the priests washing their hands before they offered sacrifice, Exodus 30:19;
so will I compass thine altar, O Lord; frequent the house of God, where the altar was, and constantly attend the worship and ordinances of God; the work of the altar being put for the whole of divine service; the altar of burnt offering is here meant, which was a type of Christ; see Hebrews 13:10; reference is had to the priests at the altar, who used to go round it, when they laid the sacrifice on the altar, and bound it to the horns of it, at the four corners, and there sprinkled and poured out the blood; compare Psalm 43:4; in order to which they washed their hands, as before; and in later times it was usual with the Heathens (y) to wash their hands before divine service.
(y) "----pura cum veste venito, et manibus puris sumite fontis aquam, nunc lavabo ut rem divinam faciam", Tibull. l. 2. eleg. 1. Plantus in Aullular. Acts 3. Sc. 6. Vide Homer. Odyss, 12. v. 336, 337.
The Treasury of David
6 I will wash mine hands in innocency so will I compass thine altar, O Lord:
7 That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works.
8 Lord, I have loved the habitation of thy house, and the place where thine honour dwelleth.
"I will wash mine hands in innocency." - He would publicly avow himself to be altogether clear of the accusations laid against him, and if any fault in other matters could be truthfully alleged against him, he would for the future abstain from it. The washing of the hands is a significant action to set forth our having no connection with a deed, as we still say, "I wash my hands of the whole business." As to perfect innocence, David does not here claim it, but he avows his innocence of the crimes whereof he was slanderously accused; there is, however, a sense in which we may be washed in absolute innocence, for the atoning blood makes us clean every whir. We ought never to rest satisfied short of a full persuasion of our complete cleansing by Jesus' precious blood. "So will I compass thine altar, O Lord." Priests unto God must take great care to be personally cleansed; the brazen laver was as needful as the golden altar; God's worship requires us to be holy in life. He who is unjust to man cannot be acceptably religious towards God. We must not bring our thank offerings with hands defiled with guilt. To love justice and purity is far more acceptable to God than ten thousands of the fat of fed beasts. We see from this verse that holy minds delight in the worship of the Lord, and find their sweetest solace at his altar; and that it is their deepest concern never to enter upon any course of action which would unfit them for the most sacred communion with God. Our eye must be upon the altar which sanctifieth both the giver and the gift, yet we must never draw from the atoning sacrifice an excuse for sin, but rather find in it a most convincing argument for holiness.
"That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving." David was so far instructed that he does not mention the typical offering, but discerns the spiritual offering which was intended thereby, not the groans of bullocks, but songs of gratitude the spiritual worshipper presents. To sound abroad the worthy praises of the God of all grace should be the everyday business of a pardoned sinner. Let men slander us as they will, let us not defraud the Lord of his praises; let dogs bark, but let us like the moon shine on. "And tell of all thy wondrous works." God's people should not be tongue-tied. The wonders of divine grace are enough to make the tongue of the dumb sing. God's works of love are wondrous if we consider the unworthiness of their objects, the costliness of their method, and the glory of their result. And as men find great pleasure in discoursing upon things remarkable and astonishing, so the saints rejoice to tell of the great things which the Lord hath done for them.
"Lord, I have loved the habitation of thy house." Into the abodes of sin he would not enter, but the house of God he had long loved, and loved it still. We were sad children if we did not love our Father's dwelling-place. Though we own no sacred buildings, yet the church of the living God is the house of God, and true Christians delight in her ordinances, services, and assemblies. O that all our days were Sabbaths! "And the place where thine honour dwelleth." In his church where God is had in honour at all times, where he reveals himself in the glory of his grace, and is proclaimed by his people as the Lord of all. We come not together as the Lord's people to honour the preacher, but to give glory to God; such an occupation is most pleasant to the saints of the Most High. What are those gatherings where God is not honoured, are they not an offence to his pure and holy eyes, and are they not a sad stumbling-block to the people of God? It brings the scalding-tear upon our cheek to hear sermons in which the honour of God is so far from being the preacher's object, that one might almost imagine that the preacher worshipped the dignity of manhood, and thought more of it than of the Infinite Majesty of God.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
6. wash mine hands—expressive symbol of freedom from sinful acts (compare Mt 27:24).
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