Standing on the Solid Ground of Integrity--Psalm 26
The superscription of Psalm 26 contains on the term: "Of [To, For] David." Thus this superscription gives no clue about the historical situation. The composer of Psalm 26 has been falsely accused by his enemies. He begins by pleading with Yahweh to vindicate him so that he will not be "swept away" with sinners, whose devices are evil and who are full of bribes. This psalmist presents four proofs of his innocence. Naturally, Psalm 26 falls into four tiny segments.
I. The innocence of an examined heart. Psalm 26:1-3.
a. The psalmist wastes no time to address Yahweh: "Vindicate me." He never tells the hearers or readers the alleged crime of which the poet is supposed to be guilty. 26:1a.
b. The poet's first proof is that he has walked in his integrity, and trusted in Yahweh without wavering. 26:1b-c.
c. To make sure that he is not hypocritical, he beseeches Yahweh to "prove," "try," "test" his heart and mind. These three verbs come from the practice of putting a precious metal just taken from the ground in a very hot fire so that the alloys may be sluffed off to retain the pure metal, as silver or gold. The same language appears in Psalm 17:3 and 139:1-6. 26:2.
d. Then the psalmist declares that he is depending only on Yahweh's steadfast love and faithfulness--a major theme occurring throughout the Psalter. 26:3.
II. The psalmist's second proof is that he does not associate with sinful people. Psalm 26:4-5.
a. The writer of this psalm describes the wicked using four terms. The wicked are worthless and hypocrites. They pretend that they are godly, when in reality they are very evil. 26:4.
b. In the next two lines, the poet defines the ungodly as evildoers and wicked. These terms appear often throughout the Psalter. 26:5.
III. The poet's third proof is that he has washed his hands with innocence. Psalm 26:6-7.
a. The composer affirms that he has performed the ritual acts in the temple prescribed for one accused of his crime. "Washing one's hands" is a symbolic act for innocence. This appears in Deuteronomy 21:6-7; Psalm 73:13; Matthew 27:24. The psalmist declares that he has gone around Yahweh's altar at the temple. He has joined in process with his fellow worshippers (see Psalm 118:27). 26:6.
b. The author of Psalm 26 sings loudly thanksgiving to Yahweh, and tells the gathered worshippers all of Yahweh's wondrous deeds. 26:7.
IV. Fourth and Finally, the composer professes that he genuinely loves the temple. Psalm 26:8-12.
a. The psalmist declares that he loves the temple because this is where Yahweh dwells and his glory abides. 26:8.
b. The poet begs that Yahweh will not sweep him away with sinners, who are full of evil devices and bribes. 26:9-10.
c. As in verse 1, the psalmist proclaims that he has walked in his integrity. 26:11a.
d. The psalmist then beseeches Yahweh to redeem him and be gracious to him. To "redeem" means to save a person from the death penalty which his accusers are desiring. 26:11b.
e. With great conviction, the psalmist concludes by confident feelings: His foot stands on level ground, and he will bless, i. e., praise Yahweh, in the great congregation. 26:12.
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