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Psalm 26[a]

Prayer of Innocence

Of David.

I

Judge me, Lord!
    For I have walked in my integrity.(A)
In the Lord I trust;
    I do not falter.
Examine me, Lord, and test me;
    search my heart and mind.(B)
Your mercy is before my eyes;
    I walk guided by your faithfulness.(C)

II

I do not sit with worthless men,
    nor with hypocrites do I mingle.
I hate an evil assembly;
    with the wicked I do not sit.
I will wash my hands[b] in innocence(D)
    so that I may process around your altar, Lord,
To hear the sound of thanksgiving,
    and recount all your wondrous deeds.
Lord, I love the refuge of your house,
    the site of the dwelling-place of your glory.(E)

III

Do not take me away with sinners,
    nor my life with the men of blood,(F)
10 In whose hands there is a plot,
    their right hands full of bribery.
11 But I walk in my integrity;(G)
    redeem me, be gracious to me!(H)
12 My foot stands on level ground;[c]
    in assemblies I will bless the Lord.(I)

Footnotes

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Psalm 26

Of David.

Vindicate me,(A) Lord,
    for I have led a blameless life;(B)
I have trusted(C) in the Lord
    and have not faltered.(D)
Test me,(E) Lord, and try me,
    examine my heart and my mind;(F)
for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love(G)
    and have lived(H) in reliance on your faithfulness.(I)

I do not sit(J) with the deceitful,
    nor do I associate with hypocrites.(K)
I abhor(L) the assembly of evildoers
    and refuse to sit with the wicked.
I wash my hands in innocence,(M)
    and go about your altar, Lord,
proclaiming aloud your praise(N)
    and telling of all your wonderful deeds.(O)

Lord, I love(P) the house where you live,
    the place where your glory dwells.(Q)
Do not take away my soul along with sinners,
    my life with those who are bloodthirsty,(R)
10 in whose hands are wicked schemes,(S)
    whose right hands are full of bribes.(T)
11 I lead a blameless life;
    deliver me(U) and be merciful to me.

12 My feet stand on level ground;(V)
    in the great congregation(W) I will praise the Lord.

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