PSALM 26 OVERVIEW
Title. A Psalm of David. The sweet singer of Israel appears before us in this Psalm as one enduring reproach; in this he was the type of the great Son of David, and is an encouraging example to us to carry the burden of slander to the throne of grace. It is an ingenious surmise that this appeal to heaven was written by David at the time of the assassination of Ishbosheth, by Baanah and Rechab, to protest his innocence of all participation in that treacherous murder; the tenor of the Psalm certainly agrees with the supposed occasion, but it is not possible with such a slender clue to go beyond conjecture.
Division. Unity of subject is so distinctly maintained, that there are no sharp divisions. David Dickson has given an admirable summary in these words: -- "He appeals to God", the supreme Judge, in the testimony of a good conscience, bearing him witness; first, of his endeavour to walk uprightly as a believer, Psalms 26:1-3 ; secondly, of his keeping himself from the contagion of the evil counsel, sinful causes, and examples of the wicked, Ps 26:4-5; thirdly, of his purpose still to behave himself holily and righteously, out of love to be partaker of the public privileges of the Lord's people in the congregation, Psalms 26:6-8 Whereupon he prayeth to be free of the judgment coming upon the wicked, Psalms 26:9-10 according as he had purposed to eschew their sins, Psalms 26:11 and he closes the prayer with comfort and assurance of being heard, Psalms 26:12 .
Verse 1. Judge me, O Jehovah. A solemn appeal to the just tribunal of the heart searching God, warranted by the circumstances of the writer, so far as regarded the particular offences with which he was wrongly charged. Worried and worn out by the injustice of men, the innocent spirit flies from its false accusers to the throne of Eternal Right. He had need have a clear case who dares to carry his suit into the King's Bench of heaven. Such an appeal as this is not to be rashly made on any occasion; and as to the whole of our walk and conversation, it should never be made at all, except as we are justified in Christ Jesus: a far more fitting prayer for a sinful mortal is the petition, "Enter not into judgment with thy servant." For I have walked in mine integrity. He held integrity as his principle, and walked in it as his practice. David had not used any traitorous or unrighteous means to gain the crown, or to keep it; he was conscious of having been guided by the noblest principles of honour in all his actions with regard to Saul and his family. What a comfort it is to have the approbation of one's own conscience! If there be peace within the soul, the blustering storms of slander which howl around us are of little consideration. When the little bird in my bosom sings a merry song, it is no matter to me if a thousand owls hoot at me from without. I have trusted also in the Lord. Faith is the root and sap of integrity. He who leans upon the Lord is sure to walk in righteousness. David knew that God's covenant had given him the crown, and therefore he took no indirect or unlawful means to secure it; he would not slay his enemy in the cave, nor suffer his men at arms to smite him when he slept unguarded on the plain. Faith will work hard for the Lord, and in the Lord's way, but she refuses so much as to lift a finger to fulfil the devices of unrighteous cunning. Rebecca acted out a great falsehood in order to fulfil the Lord's decree in favour of Jacob -- this was unbelief; but Abraham left the Lord to fulfil his own purposes, and took the knife to slay his son -- this was faith. Faith trusts God to accomplish his own decrees. Why should I steal when God has promised to supply my need? Why should I avenge myself when I know that the Lord has espoused my cause? Confidence in God is a most effectual security against sin. Therefore I shall not slide. Slippery as the way is, so that I walk like a man upon ice, yet faith keeps my heels from tripping, and will continue to do so. The doubtful ways of policy are sure sooner or later to give a fall to those who run therein, but the ways of honesty, though often rough, are always safe. We cannot trust in God if we walk crookedly; but straight paths and simple faith bring the pilgrim happily to his journey's end.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Whole Psalm. This Psalm is coupled on to the foregoing by thoughts and words. At the close of the foregoing the psalmist had prayed for integrity Psalms 26:1 . Unless this Psalm is regarded as a sequel to the preceding one, it will seem vainglorious; but being combined with the penitential acknowledgments of sin, and with the earnest supplications for pardon and grace, and with the earnest profession of faith that God has heard his prayer, which breathe forth in the foregoing Psalm, it will be seen that the declarations which the psalmist now makes of integrity, are not assertions of human merit, but acknowledgments of divine mercy. As Augustine says, "Non merita mea, sed misericordia tua, ante oculos meos est." Christopher Wordsworth.
Verse 1. Judge me, O Lord; for I have walked in mine integrity. A good cause, a good conscience, and a good deportment, are good grounds of appeal to God. Ingram Cobbin.
Verse 1. Judge me, O Lord. Nothing is so pleasing to him that is upright as to know that God knoweth he is so. As it is a small matter with those who are sincere to be condemned by men, so it is not much with them to be condemned or approved by them; for indeed neither "he that commendeth himself," as the apostle speaks 2 Corinthians 10:18 , nor he that is commended by others, "is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth." The testimony, or letters commendatory of all the men in the world will do us no good, unless God give us his also. Joseph Caryl.
Verse 1. Judge me, O Lord. As an instance of appeal to heaven, we quote that mighty preacher of the word, George Whitfield. "However some may account me a mountebank and an enthusiast, one that is only going to make you methodically mad; they may breathe out their invectives against me, yet Christ knows all; he takes notice of it, and I shall leave it to him to plead my cause, for he is a gracious Master. I have already found him so, and am sure he will continue so. Vengeance is his, and he will repay it." George Whitfield, 1714-1770.
Verse 1. "Integrity." (~h), or (~ymt) is used of whatever is uninjured, or is free from any spot or blemish; and hence we find the term applied to an unblemished animal offering in sacrifice. Leviticus 1:3 3:9. George Phillips.
Verse 1. Mine integrity. There is a force in the possessive pronoun "my," which must be attended to. The psalmist intimates that he had proceeded in one uniform course, notwithstanding all the devices of his enemies. W. Wilson, D.D.
Verse 1. I have trusted in the Lord. Trust in God is the fountain of "integrity." Whoever places his hope in God need not seek to advance his worldly interests by violating his duty towards his neighbour: he waits for everything from above, and is, at the same time, always determined that he will not be deprived of the favour of his heavenly Father through violating his commandments. E. W. Hengstenberg.
Verse 1. I shall not slide. It is a striking word, as fully expressive of the completeness of God's protection and the security of his upholding hand as the psalmist's language of the integrity of his walk and trust in God. It is not, as in our Prayer book version, "I shall not fall," but it is, "I shall not even slide;" not even make a false step or stumble. Barton Bouchier.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
- Two inseparable companions -- faith and holiness.
- The blessedness of the man who possesses them. He needs not fear the judgment, nor the danger of the way.
- The only means of procuring them.
Verse 1. (last sentence). The upholding power of trust in God.