What does Psalm 26:5 mean?
ESV: I hate the assembly of evildoers, and I will not sit with the wicked.
NIV: I abhor the assembly of evildoers and refuse to sit with the wicked.
NASB: I hate the assembly of evildoers, And I will not sit with the wicked.
CSB: I hate a crowd of evildoers, and I do not sit with the wicked.
NLT: I hate the gatherings of those who do evil, and I refuse to join in with the wicked.
KJV: I have hated the congregation of evil doers; and will not sit with the wicked.
NKJV: I have hated the assembly of evildoers, And will not sit with the wicked.
Verse Commentary:
Continuing from verse 4, David states his effort to avoid close relationships with those living in obvious sin. Included in his comments here are "the assembly" of those who are evil. Since the next passage deals with the house of God (Psalm 26:6–8), some believe David is referring to religious hypocrites within the nation of Israel. It's certainly possible for hypocritically evil people to participate in a religion, and Scripture warns believers to avoid such persons (1 Corinthians 5:9–11). However, the main thrust of David's point seems to be about associating with wicked persons, and their groups, in general. That's a healthy boundary which believers of any era should apply (Proverbs 13:20).

After David's kingship, Israel's spiritual commitment faded. In Isaiah's day, hypocritical worship was rampart. God responded by asking, "What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices?…I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of well-fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lams, or of goats" (Isaiah 1:11). He appealed to the hypocrites: "Come now, let us reason together…though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool" (Isaiah 1:18). The Lord desires pure, sincere worship that is prompted by the Holy Spirit and conducted according to truth (John 4:23–24).
Verse Context:
Psalm 26:4–12 is practical evidence of the commitment David expressed in this psalm's introduction. While imperfect, David's life demonstrated consistent emphasis on godliness and obedience to the Lord. David draws a contrast between him and the evildoers that corrupted the worship of God (Psalm 26:5). David loves God's house and thanks the Lord for His miracles. David notes that because he does not associate with those who are evil, he does not expect to be caught up in their judgment.
Chapter Summary:
Some of David's psalms connect directly to events recorded in Scripture. Psalm 26, however, does not seem to match any biblical events in David's life. This might have been David's response to a specific challenge, or a general plea for God to preserve him from deceptive attacks. In this psalm, David reaffirms his lifestyle of godliness and integrity. He is confident that he will not be judged with the wicked; the psalm offers evidence that he honors the Lord.
Chapter Context:
This Davidic psalm affirms David's integrity and his deliberate separation from evildoers. It also reveals his love for the tabernacle on Mount Zion. In several ways Psalms 26 resembles Psalm 25, though this song does not include a request for forgiveness (Psalm 25:18). David declares his sincere pursuit of the Lord, including attention to genuine worship. He does not participate with evildoers—likely meaningfalse worship —and he recognizes that the Lord will sweep away the souls of sinners.
Book Summary:
The book of Psalms is composed of individual songs, hymns, or poems, each of which is a ''Psalm'' in and of itself. These works contain a wide variety of themes. Some Psalms focus on praising and worshipping God. Others cry out in anguish over the pain of life. Still other Psalms look forward to the coming of the Messiah. While some Psalms are related, each has its own historical and biblical context.
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