Psalms

PSALM 26*

Prayer of Innocence

1Of David.

I

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

II

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

III

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 30:1721), the psalmist seeks God’s protection upon entering the Temple. Ps 26:13, matched by Ps 26:1112, remind God of past integrity while asking for purification; Ps 26:45, matched by Ps 26:910, pray for inclusion among the just; Ps 26:68, 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; 40:3132), 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.

a. [26:1] Ps 7:9.

b. [26:2] Ps 17:3; 139:23.

c. [26:3] Ps 86:11.

d. [26:6] Ps 73:13.

e. [26:8] Ps 29:9; 63:3; Ex 24:16; 25:8.

f. [26:9] Ps 28:3.

g. [26:11] Ps 101:6.

h. [26:11] Ps 25:16.

i. [26:12] Ps 22:23; 35:18; 149:1.

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