Psalm 26
Benson Commentary
A Psalm of David. Judge me, O LORD; for I have walked in mine integrity: I have trusted also in the LORD; therefore I shall not slide.
Psalm 26:1. Judge me, O Lord — Plead my cause, or, give sentence for me. I can obtain no right from men. The supreme and subordinate magistrates are my implacable and resolved enemies: do thou, therefore, do me justice against them. For I have walked in my integrity — Though they accuse me of many crimes, they can prove none of them, and thou and mine own conscience, and theirs also, are witnesses for me, that my conduct toward them hath been innocent and unblameable. I have trusted also in the Lord — I have committed my cause and affairs to thee, as to a just and merciful Father, and my hope and trust are fixed upon thee alone. Therefore I shall not slide — Thou wilt not deceive my trust, but wilt uphold me against all my enemies, for thou hast promised to save those that trust in thee.

Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; try my reins and my heart.
Psalm 26:2-3. Examine me, and prove me — Because it is possible I may deceive myself, and be partial in my cause, or, at least, mine enemies will so judge of me: I appeal to thee, O thou Judge of hearts, and beg that thou wouldst search and try me by such ways and means as thou seest fit, and make me known to myself and to the world, and convince mine enemies of mine integrity. For thy lovingkindness is before mine eyes — I have a true and deep sense of thy loving-kindness upon my heart, by which I have been obliged, and in a manner constrained to love and obey thee, and, in all things, to approve my heart and ways to thee, and consequently to abstain from all such evil practices as mine enemies charge me with. And hence it is, that I dare appeal to thee with this confidence. My experience of and trust in thy goodness fully satisfy me that I do not need to use, and so supports me that I do not use, any indirect or irregular courses for my relief. I have walked in thy truth — That is, according to thy word, believing its promises, and observing its precepts and directions; and not according to the course of this world.

For thy lovingkindness is before mine eyes: and I have walked in thy truth.
I have not sat with vain persons, neither will I go in with dissemblers.
Psalm 26:4-5. I have not sat with vain persons — That is, chosen or used to converse with them. I have been so far from an approbation or imitation of their wicked courses, that I have avoided even their company; and, if I accidentally came into it, yet I would not continue in it; neither will I go in with dissemblers — That is, into their company, or with design to join in their counsels or courses. The word נעלמים, nagnalamim, here rendered dissemblers, signifies those that hide themselves; that is, cover their crafty and wicked designs with fair pretences. I have hated the congregation of evil-doers — I have a dislike to all such persons, and avoid meeting and joining with them in their assemblies and consultations.

I have hated the congregation of evil doers; and will not sit with the wicked.
I will wash mine hands in innocency: so will I compass thine altar, O LORD:
Psalm 26:6-7. I will wash my hands in innocency — “It was a common custom among all the Jews to wash before prayers; but the priests, in particular, were not to perform any sacred office in the sanctuary till they had poured water out of the laver, and washed their hands in it. David here alludes to this custom. But, because those outward ablutions might still leave impurities within, which all the water in the world could not wash away, he here declares that he would wash his hands in innocency itself, which he elsewhere calls the cleanness of his hands.” — Dodd. See note on Psalm 18:24. The word נקיון, nikajon, here rendered innocency, more properly signifies cleanness, or purity. He seems to mean by the expression integrity, or a pure conscience, as if he had said, I will not do, as my hypocritical enemies do, who content themselves with those outward washings of their hands or bodies prescribed in the law, while their hearts and lives are filthy and abominable: but I have washed my hands, and withal purged my heart and conscience from dead works: so will I compass thine altar — That is, approach to thy altar with my sacrifices; which I could not do with any comfort or confidence, if I were conscious to myself of those crimes whereof mine enemies accuse me. Respecting the phrase of compassing the altar, see note on Psalm 7:7. That I may publish — May proclaim, namely, thy wondrous works, as it here follows; with the voice of thanksgiving — Accompanying my sacrifices with my own solemn thanksgivings and songs of praise.

That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works.
LORD, I have loved the habitation of thy house, and the place where thine honour dwelleth.
Psalm 26:8. I have loved the habitation of thy house — That is, thy sanctuary and worship, which is an evidence of my piety to thee, as I have given many proofs of my justice and integrity toward men. Nothing is more grievous to me than to be hindered from seeing and serving thee in thy house. Where thy honour dwelleth — Hebrew, כבידךְ, chebodeka, thy glory, meaning either, 1st, The ark, so called 1 Samuel 4:22; Psalm 78:61; or, 2d, God’s glorious and gracious presence, or the manifestation of his glory, namely, of his glorious power, faithfulness, and goodness. Observe, reader, all that truly love God, truly love his ordinances; and they therefore love them, because in them God manifests his honour and glory, and they have an opportunity of honouring and glorifying him. And while their delighting to approach him, and having communion with him, is a constant source of pleasure to them, it is also a comfortable evidence of their integrity, and a comfortable earnest of their endless felicity.

Gather not my soul with sinners, nor my life with bloody men:
Psalm 26:9-10. Gather not my soul — That is, my life, as it is explained in the next clause; with sinners — Profligate and obstinate sinners, as the following words describe them, such being often called sinners by way of eminence. Do not bind me up in the same bundle, nor put me in the same accursed and miserable condition with them. Seeing I have loved thy house and worship, and endeavoured to serve thee acceptably, not only with ceremonial cleanness, but with moral purity of heart and life, do not deal with me as thou wilt with those that are filled with ungodliness and unrighteousness; do not destroy me with them, the righteous with the wicked; but save me in the common calamity, as thou hast been wont to do in such cases. In whose hands is mischief — Who not only imagine mischief in their hearts, but persist in it, and execute it with their hands. And their right hand — Which should be stretched out to execute justice and punish offenders; is full of bribes — By which they are induced to pervert justice, acquit the guilty, and punish the innocent.

In whose hands is mischief, and their right hand is full of bribes.
But as for me, I will walk in mine integrity: redeem me, and be merciful unto me.
My foot standeth in an even place: in the congregations will I bless the LORD.
Psalm 26:12. My foot standeth in an even place — Hebrew, במישׁור, bemishor, in rectitude. I stand upon a sure and solid foundation, being under the protection of God’s promise and his almighty and watchful providence. Or the sense may be, I do and will persist in my plain, righteous, and straight course of life, not using those frauds and wicked arts, and perverse and crooked paths, which mine enemies choose and walk in. And, thus understood, it is the same thing with his walking in his integrity, expressed in the foregoing verse and Psalm 26:1. In the congregations will I bless the Lord — I will not only privately acknowledge, but publicly, and in the assemblies of thy people, celebrate thy praise.

Benson Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

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