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Psalm 26



Protestation of Integrity and Prayer for Protection A Prayer for Divine Security and Redemption Prayer for Deliverance from Personal Enemies
(A Lament)
The Prayer of a Good Person Prayer of the Blameless
MT Intro
A Psalm of David.
26:1-7  26:1-5 26:1-3 26:1-3 26:1
    26:4-5 26:4-5 26:4-5
  26:6-8 26:6-7 26:6-7 26:6-8
26:8-12   26:8-10 26:8-10  
  26:9-10     26:9-10
  26:11-12 26:11-12 26:11 26:11-12

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")


This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.



A. This Psalm, like much of Wisdom Literature, is based on the OT concept known as "the two ways" (cf. Deut. 30:15,19; Psalm 1). There is prosperity for those who obey YHWH's word and condemnation for those who do not (i.e., the cursings and blessings of Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 27-29).


B. The psalmist apparently has been accused of some covenant violation. The best guess is idolatry.


C. Verse 9 implies an end-of-life separation between the faithful and unfaithful. The afterlife in the OT is a vague (cf. Job 14:7-12,13-14; 19:25-27; Ps. 16:10; 49:15; 73:24; Isa. 25:8; 26:19; Dan. 12:1-4) concept but progressive revelation (i.e., NT) clarifies the issue (cf. Matt. 25:46; John 5:29; Acts 24:15; 1 Corinthians 15).




 1Vindicate me, O Lord, for I have walked in my integrity,
 And I have trusted in the Lord without wavering.
 2Examine me, O Lord, and try me;
 Test my mind and my heart.
 3For Your lovingkindness is before my eyes,
 And I have walked in Your truth.
 4I do not sit with deceitful men,
 Nor will I go with pretenders.
 5I hate the assembly of evildoers,
 And I will not sit with the wicked.
 6I shall wash my hands in innocence,
 And I will go about Your altar, O Lord,
 7That I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving
 And declare all Your wonders.

26:1-7 This strophe asserts the psalmist's desire to be vindicated by YHWH. He has been accused of some evil, possibly idolatry.

1. vindicate — BDB 1047, KB1022, Qal imperative, cf. Ps. 7:8; 17:2-3; 35:24; 43:1; YHWH tests His people, cf. Jer. 11:20; 12:3; 20:12; see Special Topic at Ps. 11:4b

2. examine me — BDB 103, KB 119, Qal imperative, cf. Ps. 139:23

3. test my mind — BDB 650, KB 707, Piel imperative, cf. Ps. 7:9; the mind (lit. "kidneys") and heart were idioms for the whole person (i.e., thoughts, motives, actions)

The author then lists the reasons why he should be vindicated.

1. I have walked in my integrity — BDB 229, KB 246, Qal perfect, cf. Ps. 26:3b and 26:11a; Job 4:6; Ps. 7:8; 25:21; 41:12; 78:72; 101:2; Pro. 2:7; 19:1; 20:7; 28:6

2. I have trusted in YHWH without wavering — notice the two verbs.

a. trusted — BDB 105, KB 120, Qal perfect, cf. Ps. 13:5; 52:8; this is a settled condition

b. without wavering — BDB 588, KB 609, Qal imperfect which is an ongoing need (cf. Heb. 10:23); similar imagery occurs in Ps. 5:8 and18:36

3. I have walked in Your truth — BDB 229, KB 246, Hithpael perfect with waw; truth here means faithfulness, not creedal

4. I do not sit with deceitful men — BDB 442, KB 444, Qal perfect, cf. Ps. 1:1 (this may refer to idolatry, cf. NIDOTTE, vol. 4, p. 54)

5. I do not go with pretenders — BDB 97, KB 112, Qal imperfect

6. I hate the assembly of evil doers — BDB 971, KB 1338, Qal perfect, cf. Ps. 31:6; 139:21

7. I will not sit with the wicked — BDB 442, KB 444, Qal imperfect

8. I will wash my hands in innocence — BDB 934, KB 1220, Qal imperfect, cf. Ps. 73:13; Numbers 8 and 9 are ritual acts performed in national worship events (cf. Deut. 21:6)

9. I will go about Your altar — BDB 685, KB 738, Poel cohortative, this refers to some kind of ritual dance or march, cf. Jos. 6:3-15; Ps. 43:3-4; 48:12

10. I will proclaim all Your wonders (see Special Topic at Ps. 9:1)

a. singing aloud — BDB 1033, KB 1570, Hiphil infinitive construct

b. proclaim — BDB 707, KB 765, Piel infinitive construct, cf. Ps. 9:1; 40:5; 75:1

Notice the variations between perfects and imperfects. Remember time is not part of Hebrew verbs, just completed or ongoing action.

Notice how the opponents of faithful followers are characterized.

1. deceitful men (i.e., idolators, worthless, BDB 996, see Special Topic at Ps. 24:4)

2. pretenders (i.e., hypocrites, BDB 761, KB 824, Niphal participle)

3. the assembly of evil doers (BDB 949, KB 1269, Hiphil participle)

4. wicked (BDB 957)

Also, all the psalmist's positive actions could be understood as not performed by his opponents. He is innocent and asks for vindication. They are guilty and deserve condemnation.

The list of descriptive terms for his opponents (cf. Ps. 1:5; 5:10; 15:2-5) is expanded in the next strophe.

5. sinners (BDB 308)

6. men of bloodshed (BDB 60 construct BDB 196, cf. Ps. 5:6; 55:23; 139:19)

7. wicked schemers (BDB 273, cf. Ps. 37:7), AB suggests this refers to idols (p. 163)

8. offer bribes (BDB 1005), cf. Exod. 23:8; Deut. 16:19; Ps. 15:5

One wonders who these people are. Are they covenant people who live faithless lives or non-covenant people with no light? God help us, they seem to be people who had light, truth, and revelation but chose to reject it!

26:3 "lovingkindness" See Special Topic at Ps. 5:7.

26:5 "the assembly of evildoers" The word "assembly" (qahal, BDB 874) is the OT background to the NT designation of the church, ekklesia (lit. "the called out ones," i.e., the church) used in the LXX to translate qahal.

The idea is that there are two kinds of assemblies (cf. Matt. 7:13-14)

1. the faithful people of God — Ps. 22:22,25; 35:18; 40:9,10; 89:5; 107:32; 149:1

2. the evildoers (i.e., idolaters, cf. Ps. 31:6)


 8O Lord, I love the habitation of Your house
 And the place where Your glory dwells.
 9Do not take my soul away along with sinners,
 Nor my life with men of bloodshed,
 10In whose hands is a wicked scheme,
 And whose right hand is full of bribes.
 11But as for me, I shall walk in my integrity;
 Redeem me, and be gracious to me.
 12My foot stands on a level place;
 In the congregations I shall bless the Lord.

26:8-12 This strophe parallels the thoughts of Ps. 26:1-7. The psalmist again lists his qualification for acceptance and his opponents' actions/motives for rejection.

The psalmist's qualifications:

1. I love the temple — BDB 12, KB 17, Qal perfect

2. I walk in integrity — BDB 1070, cf. Ps. 26:1

3. my foot stands on a level place (cf. Ps. 27:11). This is imagery for the clear path, the level way of YHWH's covenant, cf. Ps. 119:105

The psalmist asks God to act toward him differently than the way He acts toward the wicked.

1. Do not take my soul away along with sinners (i.e., "gather," BDB 62, KB 74, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense. This verb is used literally of "harvest" (cf. Isa. 62:9). It came to be used of death (cf. Jdgs. 2:10; 2 Kgs. 22:20; 2 Chr. 34:28).

2. Do not take my life with men of bloodshed

These people are characterized by bloodshed, wicked schemes, and bribery. There is a clear obvious lifestyle difference between the faithful follower and the faithless Israelite who performs the acts of worship and participates in the ritual but there is no lifestyle effect (cf. Matt. 7:15-27)!


26:8 This imagery refers to the tabernacle of the wilderness (cf. Exodus 25-31, 36-40), but later came to refer to the temple in Jerusalem on Mt. Moriah. It was where YHWH dwelt among humans (i.e., between the wings of the Cherubim above the ark of the covenant in the Holy of Holies). Faithful followers longed to be in YHWH's presence (cf. Ps. 23:6; 27:4-5).

Verse 6 also refers to the tabernacle/temple (cf. Ps. 24:3-4).

26:11 Even though the psalmist believes he is innocent, he knows that YHWH is pure and holy and all humans are not (cf. Isa. 53:6; Rom. 1:18-3:18). The closer one comes into YHWH's fellowship the more the awareness of personal sin (i.e., omission and commission) becomes a reality. Psalm 19:11-14 expresses this truth well.

26:11b Because of these things he asks YHWH to

1. redeem him — BDB 804, KB 911, Qal imperative, see Special Topic at Ps. 19:14

2. be gracious to him — BDB 335, KB 334, Qal imperative, cf. Ps. 25:16

He believes YHWH will vindicate him so he will bless YHWH

1. with songs, Ps. 26:7

2. with testimony, 26:7

3. with blessing, 26:12 (BDB 138, KB 159, Piel imperfect)


26:12 "congregations" The MT is plural but it may be an example of the plural of majesty. The NRSV, TEV, REB have the singular. The NET Bible makes the plural refer to the "worshipers" (cf. Knox Translation). The plural form appears only here and Ps. 68:26.

▣ "I shall bless the Lord" This refers to public affirmation of one's faith, trust, hope, and allegiance to YHWH (cf. Rom. 10:9-13), probably in a worship setting.


This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. How does YHWH test the mind and heart?

2. Does verse 6 imply a priest is the author?

3. Define the word "wonders" (Ps. 26:7).

4. Explain verse 12a in your own words.