Prayer of Innocence
Judge me, LORD!
For I have walked in my integrity.a
In the LORD I trust;
I do not falter.
2Examine me, Lord, and test me;
search my heart and mind.b
3Your mercy is before my eyes;
I walk guided by your faithfulness.c
4I do not sit with worthless men,
nor with hypocrites do I mingle.
5I hate an evil assembly;
with the wicked I do not sit.
6I will wash my hands* in innocenced
so that I may process around your altar, Lord,
7To hear the sound of thanksgiving,
and recount all your wondrous deeds.
8Lord, I love the refuge of your house,
the site of the dwelling-place of your glory.e
9Do not take me away with sinners,
nor my life with the men of blood,f
10In whose hands there is a plot,
their right hands full of bribery.
11But I walk in my integrity;g
redeem me, be gracious to me!h
12My foot stands on level ground;*
in assemblies I will bless the LORD.i
* [Psalm 26] Like a priest washing before approaching the altar (Ex 30:17–21), the psalmist seeks God’s protection upon entering the Temple. Ps 26:1–3, matched by Ps 26:11–12, remind God of past integrity while asking for purification; Ps 26:4–5, matched by Ps 26:9–10, pray for inclusion among the just; Ps 26:6–8, the center of the poem, express the joy in God at the heart of all ritual.
* [26:6] I will wash my hands: the washing of hands was a liturgical act (Ex 30:19, 21; 40:31–32), symbolic of inner as well as outer cleanness, cf. Is 1:16.
* [26:12] On level ground: in safety, where there is no danger of tripping and falling. In assemblies: at the Temple. Having walked around the altar, the symbol of God’s presence, the psalmist blesses God.
e. [26:8] Ps 29:9; 63:3; Ex 24:16; 25:8.