Psalm 26

Notes (NET Translation)

By David.

1 Vindicate me, O LORD, for I have integrity, and I trust in the LORD without wavering.

LXX as usual renders the verb šāpaṭ forensically, as if it means “judges,” but this implies too narrow an understanding. The psalm is indeed asking for vindication, but for more than that — for the exercise of Yhwh’s authority on the suppliant’s behalf, which will also eventuate in redemption as an expression of grace (v. 11).1

2 Examine me, O LORD, and test me! Evaluate my inner thoughts and motives!

The prayer of v 2 elaborates upon the initial prayer of v 1 (“judge me”), making use of language associated primarily with the smelting and refining of metal (cf. Ps 11:4). God, who symbolically occupies the temple, is portrayed in the metaphor of a refiner of metal, who tests the ‘metal’ of those who would enter his house to worship. But the terminology is significant in another sense, for it implies not only testing, but also refining and purifying. In praying to be tested, the potential worshiper affirms integrity (v 1), but is also aware of the need for purification.2

If the claim to integrity and trust is to be sustained, the suppliant is aware that it is the inner person that needs such testing. Someone who looks upright can be secretly involved in shady deals, and someone who looks committed to Yhwh can be secretly placing their trust elsewhere.3

3 For I am ever aware of your faithfulness, and your loyalty continually motivates me.

The confidence for vindication is not based on the psalmist’s innocence but rather the fidelity of his God (v. 1b). The Lord himself has given his “love” (hesed) and “truth” (emet) to the psalmist (v. 3). Love and truth (or faithfulness) are two aspects of one divine quality (Ex 34:6; Pss 6:4; 25:10; 40:10; 61:7; 86:15; 89:14; Mic 7:20). God’s love is always faithful; therefore, the psalmist believes that God has motivated and enabled him to walk with integrity of heart. Even in his distress he is fully aware of God’s love and loyalty to him. The presence of God is an authentic experience for the psalmist (v. 3). Since God is loving and loyal, and not capricious, the psalmist presents his case humbly before his God and is not afraid of God’s scrutiny.4

4 I do not associate with deceitful men, or consort with those who are dishonest.

5 I hate the mob of evil men, and do not associate with the wicked.

6 I maintain a pure lifestyle, so I can appear before your altar, O LORD, 7 to give you thanks, and to tell about all your amazing deeds.

8 O LORD, I love the temple where you live, the place where your splendor is revealed.

Love, like the hate in verse 5, is fundamentally an expression of choice: this is where his heart is, not with the worldly. But the heart has warmed to the choice and to the company.5

9 Do not sweep me away with sinners, or execute me along with violent people, 10 who are always ready to do wrong or offer a bribe.

11 But I have integrity! Rescue me and have mercy on me!

This is loyalty, not self-righteousness, since the second element is deep humility (11b): a confession of inability to do without help (redeem me) and unfitness to claim it as of right (be gracious).6

12 I am safe, and among the worshipers I will praise the LORD.


Craigie, Peter C., and Marvin E. Tate. Psalms 1-50. Nashville: Nelson Reference & Electronic, 2004.

Goldingay, John. Psalms: Volume 1: Psalms 1-41. Kindle Edition. Baker Academic, 2006.

Kidner, Derek. Psalms 1-72: An Introduction and Commentary. Downers Grove, Ill.: Inter-Varsity Press, 2008.

VanGemeren, Willem. Psalms. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2008.

  1. Goldingay 2006, loc. 7666-7669 
  2. Craigie 2004, p. 225 
  3. Goldingay 2006, loc. 7688-7689 
  4. VanGemeren 2008, p. 276 
  5. Kidner 2008, p. 136 
  6. Kidner 2008, p. 137 

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