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;(Ps. 26:1-12 NIV)
in the great congregation I will praise the Lord.
Like many of the Psalms there is an element of lament in the Psalm. If we look honestly at our own hearts, we will have to admit that that is our attitude quite a lot of the time. We lament about ourselves, our family, others in the church and those in the world. The Psalmist begins by considering his innocence before the Lord. He is not claiming that he is without sin, but he is claiming that the intent of his heart is to do the will of God. The Psalmist asserts his innocence as far as he understands his own soul, yet he is open to the Lord exploring his heart and mind. He has trusted in the Lord without wavering and the love (hesed) has ever been before him. The basis for his vindication is not the Psalmist’s innocence but God’s covenant love. The Lord has enabled the Psalmist to live with integrity of heart. The Psalmist has walked before the Lord without wavering, and so he will stand in the great congregation and praise the Lord (v12).
As the Lord has a hatred of evil, so the Psalmist dissociates himself from all that is evil. The wicked are described as deceitful, hypocrites and evildoers. He will not throw in his lot with the wicked, be associated with their evil or with them. Bad company corrupts and so the Psalmist will not strike bargains with them, do business with them, or be involved with their schemes. The assembly of evil doers (v5) is seen in sharp contrast to the great congregation (v12) who the Psalmist associates himself with.
The washing of hands may be a reference to the laver in the temple and the altar is mentioned specifically. The Psalmist loves to come to the temple to worship. What makes it a joy is that that is where the glory of the Lord resides. The offerings on the altar are thanksgiving offerings. The worshipper proclaims aloud the praises of God. The wonderful deeds of salvation of the Lord are spoken about. The Psalmist loves the house of the Lord. It is not the architecture of the temple, though it is beautiful, that attracts the Psalmist. The draw of the temple is the Lord’s presence. If the Lord departed the temple then its glory would have gone.
The Psalmist delights in the presence of the Lord but he is ever aware that he is always in need of God’s mercy. He deserves to have his soul taken away with the souls of the sinners, therefore he must acknowledge the need of the Lord’s favour. The wicked deserve the anger of the Lord but so do we all deserve God’s anger. We are all sinners saved by grace.
The Psalmist clings to the Lord and lives a blameless life but needs to call upon the mercy of God in order that he is delivered. The Lord has delivered him and set his feet on level ground and gives the Psalmist reason to praise the Lord.
Lord we thank and praise you that You come to meet with us. When we are in need Your presence reassures us. We seek to walk in obedience before You. Yet we fail You. We constantly need Your mercy. We deserve to be separated from You forever, yet You have placed the desire in our hearts to love Your presence. Lord continue to look upon us with mercy and forgive all our sins because we pray in the name of our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.