Matthew Poole's 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.THE ARGUMENT
This Psalm was certainly made by David when he was in distress, and particularly when he was falsely accused and defamed by his adversaries, as he frequently was by Saul and his courtiers; and therefore for his vindication he makes a solemn appeal to God, and a protestation of his own innocency, to which he was forced by their clamours and reproaches.
David declareth his integrity and innoceney, Psalm 26:1-3. His hatred to the congregation of the wicked, Psalm 26:4,5. He publisheth God’s works, Psalm 26:7; loves to dwell in his house, Psalm 26:8. He prays for deliverance from his enemies, Psalm 26:9,10, and promises thankfulness to God, Psalm 26:11,12.
Judge me, i.e. plead my cause, or give sentence for me; as this phrase is commonly used, as Psalm 10:18 43:1 72:4 Isaiah 1:17. I can obtain no right from men. The supreme and subordinate magistrates are mine implacable and resolved enemies. Do thou therefore do me justice against them,
for I have walked in mine integrity; though they accuse me of many crimes, they can prove none of them, and thou and mine own conscience, and theirs too, are witnesses for me, that my carriage towards them hath been innocent and unblamable. I have committed my cause and affairs to thee, as to a just Judge and merciful Father, and my hope and trust is fixed upon thee alone; therefore thou wilt not deceive my trust, but will uphold me against all mine enemies; for thou hast promised to save those that trust in thee. Or, that
I shall not slide or fall. So this declares the matter of his trust.
Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; try my reins and my heart.Because it is possible that 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: and I have walked in thy truth.I dare appeal to thee with this confidence, because thou knowest that I have a true and deep sense of thy loving-kindness to me upon mine heart, by which I have been obliged, and in a manner constrained, to love and obey thee, and in all things to approve any heart and ways to thee, and to abstain from all such evil practices as mine enemies charge me with, whereby I should have forfeited thy loving-kindness, which I prize more than life, Psalm 63:3, and exposed myself to thy just displeasure. My experience of and trust in thy goodness doth fully satisfy and support me, that I neither do nor need to use any indirect or irregular courses for my relief.
In thy truth, i.e. according to thy word, which is oft called truth, as Psalm 119:142,151Jo 17:17,19; believing its promises, and observing its precepts and directions; and not according to the course of the world, as it follows.
I have not sat with vain persons, neither will I go in with dissemblers.I have not sat, i.e. chosen or used to converse with them; for sitting is a posture of ease and of continuance. I have been so far from an approbation or imitation of their wicked courses, (wherewith mine enemies reproach me,) that I have avoided even their company; and if accidentally I came into it, yet I would not abide in it.
With vain persons, i.e. with liars, or false and deceitful persons, as the next clause explains it. And vanity is very frequently put for falsehood or lying.
Neither will I go in; into their company, or with design to join in their counsels or courses, as the same word is used, Joshua 23:7. And conversation is oft expressed by going out and coming in.
With dissemblers, Heb. with such as hide themselves, covering their crafty and wicked designs with fair pretences. I abhor such persons and practices, though I am accused to be such a one.
I have hated the congregation of evil doers; and will not sit with the wicked.The congregation of evil-doers; either,
1. Their whole rank or society. I have an antipathy against all such persons, without any exception. Or,
2. To meet and join with them in their assemblies and consultations, or sit with them, as it follows.
I will wash mine hands in innocency: so will I compass thine altar, O LORD:In innocency, or, with integrity, or with a pure heart and conscience. 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, Exodus 29:4 &c.; Deu 21:6 Hebrews 9:10, whilst their hearts and lives are filthy and abominable; but
I will wash, or I have washed, my hands, and withal purged my heart and conscience from dead works. Compare Isaiah 1:15161 Timothy 2:8.
Compass thine altar, i.e. approach to thine 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. By the phrase Of compassing the altar, either,
1. He alludes to some Levitical custom of going about the altar, as the priests did in the oblation of their sacrifices, and the people, especially those of them who were most devout and zealous, who possibly moved from place to place, but still within their own court, that they might discern what was done on the several sides of the altar, and so be the more affected with it. Or rather,
2. He implies that he would offer many sacrifices together, which would employ the priests round about the altar; and so he is said to compass it, because the priests did it in his name, and upon his account, as persons are very oft said in Scripture to offer those sacrifices which the priests offer for them.
That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works.Publish, or, proclaim, to wit,
thy wondrous works, as it here follows.
With the voice of thanksgiving; accompanying my sacrifices with my own solemn thanksgivings and songs of praise.
LORD, I have loved the habitation of thy house, and the place where thine honour dwelleth.The habitation of thy house, i.e. thy sanctuary and worship; which is an evidence of my piety to thee, as I have given many proofs of my justice and integrity towards men. Nothing is more grievous to me than to be hindered from seeing and serving thee there.
Thine honour; or, thy glory; either,
1. The ark so called, 1 Samuel 4:22 Psalm 78:61. Or
2. Thy glorious and gracious presence, or the manifestation of thy glory, or of thy glorious power, and faithfulness, and goodness.
Gather not my soul with sinners, nor my life with bloody men:My soul, i.e. my life, as it is explained in the next clause. Do not bind me up in the same bundle, nor put me into the same accursed and miserable condition, with them. Seeing I have had so great an antipathy against them in the whole course of my life, Psalm 26:4,5, let me not die their death; as Balaam on the contrary desired
to die the death of the righteous, Numbers 23:10. And 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, Psalm 26:6-8, 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, Genesis 18:23, but save me in the common calamity, as thou hast promised and used to do in like cases. The Hebrew word asaph, rendered gathering, is oft put for taking away, as Genesis 30:23 Isaiah 4:1 Jeremiah 8:13 16:5, and that by destruction and death, as 1 Samuel 15:6 Isaiah 57:1 Jeremiah 8:13 Ezekiel 34:29 Hosea 4:3. The ground of which phrase may be either, because by death men’s souls or spirits are gathered and returned to God, Ecclesiastes 12:7, who had dispersed them all the world over; or because the several sorts of men, good and bad, which live here together promiscuously, are there severed, and all of one sort of them gathered together unto their fathers or peoples, as it is expressed, Genesis 15:15 Numbers 20:24 2 Kings 22:20: compare Hebrews 12:23.
With sinners; profligate and obstinate sinners, as the following words describe them, such being oft called sinners by way of eminency, as 1 Samuel 15:18 Psalm 1:1 104:35 Isaiah 1:28 33:14.
In whose hands is mischief, and their right hand is full of bribes.In whose hands is mischief; who not only imagine mischief in their hearts, but persist in it, and execute it with their hands.
Their right hand; which should be stretched out to execute justice, and punish offenders.
But as for me, I will walk in mine integrity: redeem me, and be merciful unto me.No text from Poole on this verse.
My foot standeth in an even place: in the congregations will I bless the LORD.In an even place, Heb. in rectitude, or
in a right, or straight, or plain, or even place; which may be understood either,
1. Civilly, or in regard of his outward condition. So this is opposed to the slippery places, in which wicked men are said to be, Psalm 35:6 73:18 Jeremiah 23:12; and the sense is, I stand upon a sure and solid foundation, where I fear no fall, nor to be overthrown by the assaults of mine enemies, being under the protection of God’s promise, and his almighty and watchful providence. Or,
2. Morally, or in regard of his conversation. So the sense is, I do and will persist or continue (which is oft signified by standing, as Psalm 1:1) in my plain, and 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, or whereof they do falsely accuse me. And so this is the same thing for substance with his
walking in his integrity, expressed in the foregoing verse, as also 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 praises, both for thy grace enabling and inclining me to choose, and love, and persevere in the ways of holiness and righteousness, and for thy protection hitherto afforded to me in the midstof all my dangers and troubles, and for that well-grounded assurance which thou hast given me, of thy favour, and of thy future deliverance.