In this psalm, David is putting himself under a solemn trial but by God and his own conscience. This Psalm teaches us what we must be and do to gain the favour of God, and comfort for ourselves. David is also carried by the spirit of prophecy to speak of himself as a type of Christ, with whom there is a spotless innocence. Christ is fully and eminently true, and of Him only can we say with certainty “We are complete in Him.” Prayer for Divine Scrutiny and Deliverance.
Psalm 26 – A Psalm of David
Vindicate me, Lord, for I have led a blameless life; I have trusted in the Lord and have not faltered. Test me, Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness. I do not sit with the deceitful, nor do I associate with hypocrites, I abhor the assembly of evildoers and refuse to sit with the wicked. I wash my hands in innocence, and go about your altar, Lord, proclaiming aloud your praise and telling of all your wonderful deeds.
Lord, I love the house where you live, the place where your glory dwells. Do not take away my soul along with sinners, my life with those who are bloodthirsty, in whose hands are wicked schemes, whose right hands are full of bribes. I lead a blameless life; deliver me and be merciful to me. My feet stand on level ground; in the great congregation I will praise the Lord.
He appeals to God for mercy
Henry says – David probably penned this Psalm when he was persecuted by Saul who represented him as a very bad man, and falsely accused him. Here is a type of Christ, who was discredited by men, and told His followers that they also must have all manner of false evils said against them.
Yet David appeals to God’s righteous authority (Ps. 26:1): “Judge me, O God! be the Judge between me and my accusers. Put them to shame who falsely accuse me.” Saul, at that time was a supreme judge in Israel. As David was in an altercation with him, he could appeal to no other then to God Himself. He prays, Lord, do not enter into judgment with me (Ps. 143:2), do not remember my transgressions (Ps. 25:7). He appeals to God’s mercy for himself, but against Saul, he appeals to God’s justice and begs of him to judge between them.
Examine me and prove me
He cannot justify himself against the charges. He admits that his iniquity is great and he is undone if God, in His infinite mercy, does not forgive him. According to the covenant of grace, he expects to find favour with God. It is a comfort to those who are falsely accused to know that there is a righteous God, who, sooner or later, will clear up their innocence. It is a comfort to all who are sincere in their faith that God Himself is a witness to their sincerity.
David asks of God (Ps. 26:2): Examine me, O Lord! and prove me, as gold is proved, whether it be to the standard. God knows every man’s true character, for He knows the thoughts and intents of the heart and sees through every disguise. David was so sincere in his devotion that he intimates that he was pleased that God did know him and wished he had a window in his bosom, that whoever wanted to might look into his heart.
Therefore I shall not slide
In verse one, David protests his sincerity (Ps. 26:1): “I have walked in my integrity; my conversation has agreed with my profession. It is vain to boast of our integrity unless we boast of the grace of God that has enabled us to walk in it. Our conversation in the world must be in simplicity and godly sincerity. He produces several proofs of his integrity, which encourages him to trust in the Lord as his righteous Judge. He is assured that he will come away with a good reputation (therefore I shall not slide). Those who are sincere in the faith may trust in God that they will not slide, that they will not apostasise from their beliefs.
David had a constant regard toward God and His grace, Ps. 26:3. His chief end was for God’s good favour: Your loving-kindness is before my eyes. This is a good evidence of our sincerity, if what we do in faith we do from a principle of love to God. For He is the best of all friends and champion. Do we not have a grateful sense of God’s goodness to us? We can set God’s loving-kindness before us as our pattern, and endeavour to conform ourselves as being followers of Him who is good (1 Pet. 3:13). If we are afraid of doing anything to forfeit God’s favour this will be good evidence of our integrity. It will also have a great influence upon our perseverance.
We must avoid bad company
The Word of God was his rule: “I have walked in Your truth, according to Your law for Your law is truth.” David sought to conform himself to God’s example in truth and faithfulness, as well as in goodness and loving-kindness. Those who are true followers of God certainly walk well as dear children.
David had no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, Ps. 26:4, 5. He was truly loyal to Saul and he never associated with those who were disaffected to his government. He was in none of their cabals, nor cursed the king. This was also an evidence of his faithfulness to God. He never associated with those who were disaffected with religion, or who were open enemies, or false friends, to God’s interests. We must take great care to avoid bad company as further proof of our integrity and a means by which to preserve us in it.
When we join ourselves to Christ
Our good practices are evidence of our integrity when they are accompanied with a resolve, in God’s strength, to persevere to the end, and not to draw back. David shunned the company, not only of wicked people, but of people that were wholly addicted to mirth and had nothing solid or serious in them. Evil-doers pretend friendship to those whom they would lure into their snares, but they deceive. When they speak fair, do not believe them. Though sometimes David could not avoid being in the company of bad people, yet he would not go with them. He would not choose them for his companions nor seek an opportunity to be acquainted with them. He says here, he not only “have I shunned it,” but, “I have hated it,” Ps. 139:21.
As good men together make one another better, and are enabled to do so much more good, so bad men, in combination, make one another worse, and do so much the more evil. In all this David was a type of Christ, He received sinners and ate with them, to instruct them and do them good. Yet He was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners. He was an example to Christians, when they join themselves to Christ, save themselves from this perverse generation, Acts 2:40.
The blood that purifies
As further evidence of his integrity, David mentions the sincere affection he had to God’s laws and the constant care and pleasure he took in them. He not only refrained from the society of sinners, but kept himself clean from the pollutions of sin. As in (1 Cor. 11:28), Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat, well prepared. David kept a careful watch against all sin, and kept his hands clean.
We also must clear ourselves from any infidelity or hypocrisy. We must also take pains to cleanse ourselves from any spots of remaining iniquity by repentance and making fresh application of the blood of Christ. The blood that purifies our conscience and pacifies us. He who is washed (that is, in a justified state) needs only to wash his feet (John 13:10). He who is penitent is pardoned and is so innocent that his sins shall not be mentioned against him.
What does it profit a man if he gains the world but lose his soul?
David’s whole aim was for the glory of God and was in much thankful praise and adoration of Him. He made it his business to honour God and to give Him the glory due to His name. He published with a voice of thanksgiving all God’s wondrous works. God’s gracious works, which call for thanksgiving, are all wondrous works, which call for our admiration. We ought to publish them and tell of them, for His glory, and the excitement of others to praise Him. By all ways possible, to acknowledge with gratitude the favours we have received from God.
David, having given proofs of his integrity, earnestly prays, with humble confidence towards God (as those who have hearts that do not condemn them). He prays that he would not fall under the doom of the wicked (Ps. 26:9). Do not gather my soul with sinners. “They are bloody men, who thirst after blood and mischief is always in their hands. Their right hand is full of bribes which they have taken to pervert justice, yet what does it profit a man if he gains the world and loses his soul?”
Death gathers us to our people
He dreaded having his lot with them. Never loving them, nor associating with them, in this world. He could therefore in faith pray that he would not have his lot with them in the other world. Our souls must shortly be gathered up to return to the God who gave them and will call for them again. See Job 34:14. It should concern us to consider whether our souls will then be gathered with saints or with sinners. Whether in the bundle of life with the Lord forever, as with the souls of the faithful (1 Sam. 25:29), or bound in the bundle of tares for the fire, Matt. 13:30.
Death gathers us to our people, to those who are our people while we live, whom we choose to associate with, and with whom we cast in our lot. In death we will be gathered with for eternity. David dreaded dying the death of the wicked. Those who will not be companions with sinners in their merriment may in faith pray not to drink of their cup of trembling.
His comfort is firm in God and His grace
David, with a holy humble confidence, commits himself to the grace of God, Ps. 26:11. He promises that by the grace of God he would persevere in his commitment: “As for me, whatever others do, I will walk in integrity.” He prays for divine grace to enable him to do it and to give him the comfort of it: “Redeem me out of the hands of my enemies, and be merciful to me, living and dying.” Even if we are confident of our integrity, yet we must still rely on God’s mercy and the great redemption Christ has worked for us.
Finally he finds his resolution to be fixed on God and godliness and he comforts himself with his steadiness: “My foot stands in an even place, where I shall not stumble and where I shall not fall.” David confessed that he would not be shaken by the temptations of the world. His comfort is firm in God and His grace and he resolved not to be disturbed by the crosses and troubles of the world. He promises himself that he would have more occasions to praise the Lord, and that he would have a heart for praises. Those who hate the congregation of evil-doers shall be joined to the congregation of the righteous and join with them in praising God. It is pleasant to do that in good company, the more the better for it is the more like heaven.
Adapted from the Matthew Henry Commentary
The Prayer of a good man Declare me innocent O Lord I trust You completely to do what is right. So examine me now and test me That I may be glorious in Your sight. Judge my desires and thoughts Your constant love is my guide. Your faithfulness always leads me, You are forever by my side. Do not treat me as a common sinner From the fate of murderers spare me. Men who do evil all the time Who take bribes willingly. Steer me from their ways O Lord That I walk the straight and narrow path Of doing what is right, in mercy save me Let me never incur Your wrath. By the late Andrew Feakin (passed away 16th March 2019)
Prayer for the Day
Prayer: Father, I come to You. I admit that my iniquity is great and that I am undone if You, in Your infinite mercy, do not forgive me. According to the covenant of grace, I can expect to find favour. When I am falsely accused let me be comforted to know that You will be a witness to my sincerity. Let me never boast of my integrity unless I boast of Your grace that has enabled me to walk in it. Convict me that my conversations be in simplicity and godly sincerity. For I see that those who are sincere in the faith may trust in You that they will not slide from their beliefs.
Let all I do in faith be from a principle of love to You. For You are the best of all friends and champions. Help me have a grateful sense of Your goodness to me. Let me set Your loving-kindness before me as my pattern, and endeavour to conform myself to it. Conform me to Your example in truth and faithfulness, goodness and loving-kindness. That I may be a true follower and Your dear child.
May I never associate with those who are disaffected with religion
May I never associate with those who are disaffected with religion, or that are Your open enemies, or false friends. Let me take great care to avoid bad company. Help me in Your strength, to persevere to the end, and not to draw back. Convict me of any infidelity or hypocrisy. Cleanse me from any spots of remaining iniquity by my repentance and making fresh application of the blood of Christ. The blood that purifies our conscience and pacifies us. Let me be as one who is penitent and so pardoned and therefore innocent that my sins shall not be mentioned against me.
Remind me to be grateful for all Your gracious works and assist me to publish them, and tell of them, for Your glory. By Your grace I will persevere in my commitment. I ask for divine grace to enable me to do it and to receive the comfort from it. I rely fully on Your mercy and the great redemption Christ has worked for me. In the name of Christ I pray. Amen.