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Bible Commentaries

Utley's You Can Understand the Bible

Psalms 26

Psalms 26:0

STROPHE DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
Protestation of Integrity and Prayer for Protection A Prayer for Divine Security and Redemption Prayer for Deliverance from Personal Enemies (A Lament) The Prayer of a Good Person Prayer of the Blameless
MT Intro A Psalm of David.
Psalms 26:1-7 Psalms 26:1-5 Psalms 26:1-3 Psalms 26:1-3 Psalms 26:1
Psalms 26:2
Psalms 26:3
Psalms 26:4-5 Psalms 26:4-5 Psalms 26:4-5
Psalms 26:6-8 Psalms 26:6-7 Psalms 26:6-7 Psalms 26:6-8
Psalms 26:8-12 Psalms 26:8-10 Psalms 26:8-10
Psalms 26:9-10 Psalms 26:9-10
Psalms 26:11-12 Psalms 26:11-12 Psalms 26:11 Psalms 26:11-12
Psalms 26:12

READING CYCLE THREE (see “Guide to Good Bible Reading”)

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS

A. This Psalm, like much of Wisdom Literature, is based on the OT concept known as “the two ways” (cf. Deuteronomy 30:15; Deuteronomy 30:15, Deuteronomy 30:19; Psalms 1:0). There is prosperity for those who obey YHWH's word and condemnation for those who do not (i.e., the cursings and blessings of Leviticus 26:0 and Deuteronomy 27-29).

B. The psalmist apparently has been accused of some covenant violation. The best guess is idolatry.

C. Psalms 26:9 implies an end-of-life separation between the faithful and unfaithful. The afterlife in the OT is a vague (cf. Job 14:7-12, Job 14:13-14; Job 19:25-27; Psalms 16:10; Psalms 49:15; Psalms 73:24; Isaiah 25:8; Isaiah 26:19; Daniel 12:1-4) concept but progressive revelation (i.e., NT) clarifies the issue (cf. Matthew 25:46; John 5:29; Acts 24:15; 1 Corinthians 15:0).

SPECIAL TOPIC: THE RESURRECTION

Verses 1-7

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Psalms 26:1-7 1Vindicate me, O Lord, for I have walked in my integrity, And I have trusted in the Lord without wavering. 2Examine me, O Lord, and try me; Test my mind and my heart. 3For Your lovingkindness is before my eyes, And I have walked in Your truth. 4I do not sit with deceitful men, Nor will I go with pretenders. 5I hate the assembly of evildoers, And I will not sit with the wicked. 6I shall wash my hands in innocence, And I will go about Your altar, O Lord, 7That I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving And declare all Your wonders.

Psalms 26:1-7 This strophe asserts the psalmist's desire to be vindicated by YHWH. He has been accused of some evil, possibly idolatry.

1. vindicate BDB 1047, KB1022, Qal imperative, cf. Psalms 7:8; Psalms 17:2-3; Psalms 35:24; Psalms 43:1; YHWH tests His people, cf. Jeremiah 11:20; Jeremiah 12:3; Jeremiah 20:12; see SPECIAL TOPIC: GOD TESTS HIS PEOPLE at Psalms 11:4b

2. examine me BDB 103, KB 119, Qal imperative, cf. Psalms 139:23

3. test my mind BDB 650, KB 707, Piel imperative, cf. Psalms 7:9; the mind (lit. “kidneys”) and heart were idioms for the whole person (i.e., thoughts, motives, actions)

The author then lists the reasons why he should be vindicated.

1. I have walked in my integrity BDB 229, KB 246, Qal perfect, cf. Psalms 26:3b and Psalms 26:11a; Job 4:6; Psalms 7:8; Psalms 25:21; Psalms 41:12; Psalms 78:72; Psalms 101:2; Proverbs 2:7; Proverbs 19:1; Proverbs 20:7; Proverbs 28:6

2. I have trusted in YHWH without wavering notice the two verbs.

a. trusted BDB 105, KB 120, Qal perfect, cf. Psalms 13:5; Psalms 52:8; this is a settled condition

b. without wavering BDB 588, KB 609, Qal imperfect which is an ongoing need (cf. Hebrews 10:23); similar imagery occurs in Psalms 5:8 and Psalms 18:36

3. I have walked in Your truth BDB 229, KB 246, Hithpael perfect with waw; truth here means faithfulness, not creedal

4. I do not sit with deceitful men BDB 442, KB 444, Qal perfect, cf. Psalms 1:1 (this may refer to idolatry, cf. NIDOTTE, vol. 4, p. 54)

5. I do not go with pretenders BDB 97, KB 112, Qal imperfect

6. I hate the assembly of evil doers BDB 971, KB 1338, Qal perfect, cf. Psalms 31:6; Psalms 139:21

7. I will not sit with the wicked BDB 442, KB 444, Qal imperfect

8. I will wash my hands in innocence BDB 934, KB 1220, Qal imperfect, cf. Psalms 73:13; Numbers 8:0 and 9 are ritual acts performed in national worship events (cf. Deuteronomy 21:6)

9. I will go about Your altar BDB 685, KB 738, Poel cohortative, this refers to some kind of ritual dance or march, cf. Joshua 6:3-15; Psalms 43:3-4; Psalms 48:12

10. I will proclaim all Your wonders (see Special Topic: Wonderful Things)

a. singing aloud BDB 1033, KB 1570, Hiphil infinitive construct

b. proclaim BDB 707, KB 765, Piel infinitive construct, cf. Psalms 9:1; Psalms 40:5; Psalms 75:1

Notice the variations between perfects and imperfects. Remember time is not part of Hebrew verbs, just completed or ongoing action.

Notice how the opponents of faithful followers are characterized.

1. deceitful men (i.e., idolators, worthless, BDB 996, see SPECIAL TOPIC: EMPTY, VAIN, FALSE, NOTHINGNESS)

2. pretenders (i.e., hypocrites, BDB 761, KB 824, Niphal participle)

3. the assembly of evil doers (BDB 949, KB 1269, Hiphil participle)

4. wicked (BDB 957)

Also, all the psalmist's positive actions could be understood as not performed by his opponents. He is innocent and asks for vindication. They are guilty and deserve condemnation.

The list of descriptive terms for his opponents (cf. Psalms 1:5; Psalms 5:10; Psalms 15:2-5) is expanded in the next strophe.

5. sinners (BDB 308)

6. men of bloodshed (BDB 60 construct BDB 196, cf. Psalms 5:6; Psalms 55:23; Psalms 139:19)

7. wicked schemers (BDB 273, cf. Psalms 37:7), AB suggests this refers to idols (p. 163)

8. offer bribes (BDB 1005), cf. Exodus 23:8; Deuteronomy 16:19; Psalms 15:5

One wonders who these people are. Are they covenant people who live faithless lives or non-covenant people with no light? God help us, they seem to be people who had light, truth, and revelation but chose to reject it!

Psalms 26:3 “lovingkindness” See SPECIAL TOPIC: LOVINGKINDNESS (HESED).

Psalms 26:5 “the assembly of evildoers” The word “assembly” (qahal, BDB 874) is the OT background to the NT designation of the church, ekklesia (lit. “the called out ones,” i.e., the church) used in the LXX to translate qahal.

The idea is that there are two kinds of assemblies (cf. Matthew 7:13-14)

1. the faithful people of God Psalms 22:22, Psalms 22:25; Psalms 35:18; Psalms 40:9, Psalms 40:10; Psalms 89:5; Psalms 107:32; Psalms 149:1

2. the evildoers (i.e., idolaters, cf. Psalms 31:6)

Verses 8-12

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Psalms 26:8-12 8O Lord, I love the habitation of Your house And the place where Your glory dwells. 9Do not take my soul away along with sinners, Nor my life with men of bloodshed, 10In whose hands is a wicked scheme, And whose right hand is full of bribes. 11But as for me, I shall walk in my integrity; Redeem me, and be gracious to me. 12My foot stands on a level place; In the congregations I shall bless the Lord.

Psalms 26:8-12 This strophe parallels the thoughts of Psalms 26:1-7. The psalmist again lists his qualification for acceptance and his opponents' actions/motives for rejection.

The psalmist's qualifications:

1. I love the temple BDB 12, KB 17, Qal perfect

2. I walk in integrity BDB 1070, cf. Psalms 26:1

3. my foot stands on a level place (cf. Psalms 5:8; Psalms 27:11). This is imagery for the clear path, the level way of YHWH's covenant, cf. Psalms 119:105

The psalmist asks God to act toward him differently than the way He acts toward the wicked.

1. Do not take my soul away along with sinners (i.e., “gather,” BDB 62, KB 74, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense. This verb is used literally of “harvest” (cf. Isaiah 62:9). It came to be used of death (cf. Judges 2:10; 2 Kings 22:20; 2 Chronicles 34:28).

2. Do not take my life with men of bloodshed

These people are characterized by bloodshed, wicked schemes, and bribery. There is a clear obvious lifestyle difference between the faithful follower and the faithless Israelite who performs the acts of worship and participates in the ritual but there is no lifestyle effect (cf. Matthew 7:15-27)!

SPECIAL TOPIC: APOSTASY (APHISTÇMI)

Psalms 26:8 This imagery refers to the tabernacle of the wilderness (cf. Exodus 25-31, Exodus 25:36-40), but later came to refer to the temple in Jerusalem on Mt. Moriah. It was where YHWH dwelt among humans (i.e., between the wings of the Cherubim above the ark of the covenant in the Holy of Holies). Faithful followers longed to be in YHWH's presence (cf. Psalms 23:6; Psalms 27:4-5).

Psalms 26:6 also refers to the tabernacle/temple (cf. Psalms 24:3-4).

Psalms 26:11 Even though the psalmist believes he is innocent, he knows that YHWH is pure and holy and all humans are not (cf. Isaiah 53:6; Romans 1:18-18). The closer one comes into YHWH's fellowship the more the awareness of personal sin (i.e., omission and commission) becomes a reality. Psalms 19:11-14 expresses this truth well.

Psalms 26:11b Because of these things he asks YHWH to

1. redeem him BDB 804, KB 911, Qal imperative, see SPECIAL TOPIC: RANSOM/REDEEM

2. be gracious to him BDB 335, KB 334, Qal imperative, cf. Psalms 25:16

He believes YHWH will vindicate him so he will bless YHWH

1. with songs, Psalms 26:7

2. with testimony, Psalms 26:7

3. with blessing, Psalms 26:12 (BDB 138, KB 159, Piel imperfect, see Special Topic: Blessed [OT])

Psalms 26:12 “congregations” The MT is plural but it may be an example of the plural of majesty. The NRSV, TEV, REB have the singular. The NET Bible makes the plural refer to the “worshipers” (cf. Knox Translation). The plural form appears only here and Psalms 68:26.

“I shall bless the Lord” This refers to public affirmation of one's faith, trust, hope, and allegiance to YHWH (cf. Romans 10:9-13), probably in a worship setting.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. How does YHWH test the mind and heart?

2. Does Psalms 26:6 imply a priest is the author?

3. Define the word “wonders” (Psalms 26:7).

4. Explain Psalms 26:12a in your own words.

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Bibliographical Information
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Psalms 26". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ubc/psalms-26.html. 2021.