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Psalm chapter 26

New International Version

1 Of David. Vindicate me, LORD, for I have led a blameless life; I have trusted in the LORD and have not faltered. 2 Test me, LORD, and try me, examine my heart and my mind;
3 for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness. 4 I do not sit with the deceitful, nor do I associate with hypocrites. 5 I abhor the assembly of evildoers and refuse to sit with the wicked. 6 I wash my hands in innocence, and go about your altar, LORD,
7 proclaiming aloud your praise and telling of all your wonderful deeds. 8 LORD, I love the house where you live, the place where your glory dwells. 9 Do not take away my soul along with sinners, my life with those who are bloodthirsty, 10 in whose hands are wicked schemes, whose right hands are full of bribes.
11 I lead a blameless life; deliver me and be merciful to me. 12 My feet stand on level ground; in the great congregation I will praise the LORD.
English Standard Version

1 Of David. Vindicate me, O LORD, for I have walked in my integrity, and I have trusted in the LORD without wavering. 2 Prove me, O LORD, and try me; test my heart and my mind. 3 For your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in your faithfulness. 4 I do not sit with men of falsehood, nor do I consort with hypocrites. 5 I hate the assembly of evildoers, and I will not sit with the wicked. 6 I wash my hands in innocence and go around your altar, O LORD, 7 proclaiming thanksgiving aloud, and telling all your wondrous deeds. 8 O LORD, I love the habitation of your house and the place where your glory dwells. 9 Do not sweep my soul away with sinners, nor my life with bloodthirsty men, 10 in whose hands are evil devices, and whose right hands are full of bribes. 11 But as for me, I shall walk in my integrity; redeem me, and be gracious to me. 12 My foot stands on level ground; in the great assembly I will bless the LORD.
King James Version

1 {A Psalm of David.} Judge me, O LORD; for I have walked in mine integrity: I have trusted also in the LORD; therefore I shall not slide. 2 Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; try my reins and my heart. 3 For thy lovingkindness is before mine eyes: and I have walked in thy truth. 4 I have not sat with vain persons, neither will I go in with dissemblers. 5 I have hated the congregation of evil doers; and will not sit with the wicked.
6 I will wash mine hands in innocency: so will I compass thine altar, O LORD: 7 That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works. 8 LORD, I have loved the habitation of thy house, and the place where thine honour dwelleth. 9 Gather not my soul with sinners, nor my life with bloody men: 10 In whose hands is mischief, and their right hand is full of bribes. 11 But as for me, I will walk in mine integrity: redeem me, and be merciful unto me. 12 My foot standeth in an even place: in the congregations will I bless the LORD.
New American Standard Bible

1 Vindicate me, LORD, for I have walked in my integrity, And I have trusted in the LORD without wavering. 2 Examine me, LORD, and put me to the test; Refine my mind and my heart. 3 For Your goodness is before my eyes, And I have walked in Your truth. 4 I do not sit with deceitful people, Nor will I go with pretenders. 5 I hate the assembly of evildoers, And I will not sit with the wicked. 6 I will wash my hands in innocence, And I will go around Your altar, LORD, 7 That I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving And declare all Your wonders. 8 LORD, I love the dwelling of Your house, And the place where Your glory remains. 9 Do not take my soul away along with sinners, Nor my life with men of bloodshed, 10 In whose hands is a wicked scheme, And whose right hand is full of bribes. 11 But as for me, I will walk in my integrity; Redeem me, and be gracious to me. 12 My foot stands on level ground; In the congregations I will bless the LORD.
New Living Translation

1 A psalm of David. Declare me innocent, O LORD, for I have acted with integrity; I have trusted in the LORD without wavering. 2 Put me on trial, LORD, and cross-examine me. Test my motives and my heart. 3 For I am always aware of your unfailing love, and I have lived according to your truth. 4 I do not spend time with liars or go along with hypocrites. 5 I hate the gatherings of those who do evil, and I refuse to join in with the wicked. 6 I wash my hands to declare my innocence. I come to your altar, O LORD, 7 singing a song of thanksgiving and telling of all your wonders. 8 I love your sanctuary, LORD, the place where your glorious presence dwells.
9 Don't let me suffer the fate of sinners. Don't condemn me along with murderers. 10 Their hands are dirty with evil schemes, and they constantly take bribes. 11 But I am not like that; I live with integrity. So redeem me and show me mercy. 12 Now I stand on solid ground, and I will publicly praise the LORD.
Christian Standard Bible

1 Vindicate me, Lord, because I have lived with integrity and have trusted in the Lord without wavering. 2 Test me, Lord, and try me; examine my heart and mind.
3 For your faithful love guides me, and I live by your truth. 4 I do not sit with the worthless or associate with hypocrites. 5 I hate a crowd of evildoers, and I do not sit with the wicked. 6 I wash my hands in innocence and go around your altar, Lord,
7 raising my voice in thanksgiving and telling about your wondrous works. 8 Lord, I love the house where you dwell, the place where your glory resides. 9 Do not destroy me along with sinners, or my life along with men of bloodshed
10 in whose hands are evil schemes and whose right hands are filled with bribes. 11 But I live with integrity; redeem me and be gracious to me. 12 My foot stands on level ground; I will bless the Lord in the assemblies.

What does Psalm chapter 26 mean?

This psalm is not easily connected to any events recorded in the Bible. Whatever situation David was facing here, the details are not part of Scripture. Apparently, David felt he was under ruthless attack from enemies. These assaults seem to have included malicious rumors. In response, David appeals to the Lord for vindication. He reasons that God will justify him because he has led a life of integrity and has consistently trusted God. It is this sincerity which makes David confident in his relationship to the Lord (Psalm 26:1–3).

As proof of his integrity, David lists the ways in which he pursues righteousness. In this context, that includes refusing to associate closely with evil people. Balancing a need for holiness (1 Corinthians 5:9–11; 1 Peter 1:14–15) with a call to reach the lost (Matthew 5:16) can be difficult. Yet that discernment is important. David insists he does not "sit," or fellowship, with those known to be dishonest. Neither does he keep company with hypocrites. He avoids being in the same place as groups of evildoers. He stays clear of sin and gives thanks in the tabernacle. Because he deeply loves God and His truth, David publicly proclaims all the Lord's wondrous deeds. He loves the tabernacle, the place where the Lord reveals His glory (Psalm 26:4–8).

As someone who stays away from evil, and evil people, David confidently asks God not to be "swept away" by judgment against sinners. This echoes a theme of the Bible, which is that sin can bring earthly consequences—and those close to evil people risk being caught in those results (Proverbs 13:20). David knows hypocritical sinners accept bribes and commit depraved acts. As for himself, he seeks to live an honest life. He asks the Lord to deliver him and be gracious to him. David affirms that he will not be shaken from his faith and will praise the Lord when God's people assemble (Psalm 26:9–12).