Psalm 26

Read: Psalm 26:1, 2, 9, 11; Psalm 19:14; Matthew 6:13; Luke 22:31 – 34; Hebrews 4:13

In Psalm 26:1 – 2 David requested God to vindicate him, to prove him, to try him, and to test (in the sense of assaying) his “heart and mind.” The Hebrew in v. 2 says literally, “Test my kidneys and my heart.” In Hebrew thought the kidneys were the seat of the passions and emotions, and the heart was the place of reflection, memory, and thinking. The translation “heart and mind,” although it replaces “kidneys” with “heart” and “heart” with “mind,” is a good English approximation of the sense of the Hebrew.  Psalm 26:1 indicates David felt he was ready to be tested because of the integrity of his walk and his unwavering faith in God.  One rabbinical commentary on this psalm suggests that God responded to David’s request by permitting him to be tempted by Bathsheba, and we know how that worked out.  Jesus taught that we should ask God to spare us from testing (Matthew 6:13); Peter’s example (Luke 22:31 – 34) helps explain why this is so. While David’s request to be tested may have been, like Peter’s example, evidence of overconfidence, it also demonstrated an awareness of transparency before God that is a necessary component of spiritual health (Hebrews 4:13).

Think About It:  Other prayer requests in this psalm are found in verses 9 and 11. How do they help balance the requests of vv. 1 – 2?   Are my passions and mental reflections acceptable to God?

Prayer: Lord, spare me from being sifted like wheat; my only hope is in You.


Read: Psalm 26:3; 2 Kings 20:3; Job 31

In Psalm 26 David presented a picture of the kind of walk with God he sought all of his life.  Job likewise described and defended his spiritual walk (Job 31), as did King Hezekiah (2 Kings 20:3). None of these men claimed sinless perfection, but rather they described the God-pleasing life they aspired to live. In Psalm 26:3 we see that the basis of David’s spirituality rested not in himself, but in God. David kept God’s steadfast love (Hebrew chesed, also translated as mercy or lovingkindess) in view. Though David spoke of his own unwavering faith in v. 1, the very fact that he looked to God’s mercy demonstrated his awareness of his personal weakness.

Think About It: David also affirmed that he walked in God’s faithfulness. Read 1 Corinthians 1:9, 10:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:23 – 24; 2 Thessalonians 3:3; 2 Timothy 2:13; Hebrews 10:23, 11:11.   What do these passages teach about God’s faithfulness, and what it means to walk in God’s faithfulness? Am I walking in God’s faithfulness?

Prayer: Lord, I look to Your mercy, and walk in Your faithfulness.


Read: Psalm 26:4 – 5; Psalm 1:1; Jeremiah 15:17; Matthew 6:2; 1 Corinthians 15:33; 2 Corinthians 6:17; Ephesians 5:11; 1 Thessalonians 5:22

According to Psalm 26:4 – 5, David’s spiritual walk involved separation from all kinds of wicked people. “Men of falsehood” are those who reject God’s truth and walk in the futility of their own darkened understanding (Ephesians 4:17 – 18). “Hypocrites” are those who pretend to righteousness in public but who are secretly sinful (Matthew 6:2).  The “assembly of evildoers” is the crowd, the mob, those who are heedlessly on the broad and easy road to destruction (Matthew 7:13).  The “wicked” are the evil men, the guilty, the criminals. David refused to “sit with” such people, meaning he would not make himself at home with them, he would not be identified with them.

Think About It: According to 1 Corinthians 5:9 – 12 does separating from all kinds of wicked people mean having no contact at all with them? Why or why not? Who are the people that I “sit with” in terms of who I am identified with, and with whom I make myself at home? Do I need to make any changes in this area of my life?

Prayer: Lord, grant me the courage to stand apart from the mob, to identify with Jesus, and to identify with others who identify with Him.


Read: Psalm 26:6; Exodus 30:19 – 20; Mark 1:15; Luke 18:10 – 14; Acts 11:18

David’s mention of the altar in Psalm 26:6 introduced the subject of atonement for sin into his discussion of his walk with God.  David’s statement that he “washed his hands in innocence” is interpreted by some commentators as a reference to freedom from sinful acts. But if David’s hands were already clean, why would he wash them? If he had no consciousness of sin, why would he be at the altar to make the propitiatory sacrifice?  A better interpretation of “washing hands in innocence” might be to understand it as a picture of the sincerity of David’s repentance, with which he prepared himself for the ordinance of the propitiatory sacrifice. Jesus’ parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector (Luke 18:10 – 14) emphasized the difference between the prayer of the self-righteous man who was unaware of his need for repentance, and the convicted, repentant sinner, who was painfully aware of his need for God’s mercy.  Acts 11:18 reminds us that repentance itself is a gift of God’s grace, not a work of the flesh by which we earn God’s favor.  In sincere repentance, his sins atoned for by the sacrifice, David could go around God’s altar—that is, with his conscience cleansed, he was willing to let God look at him from every angle.

Think About It:  Who is the propitiation for my sins (Romans 3:23 – 25; 1 John 2:2)? What is the relationship between repentance and confession of sin? How might I follow David’s example of “washing hands in innocence,” i.e., of a repentant spirit (1 Corinthians 11:28; 2 Corinthians 13:5; 1 John 1:6 – 10)?

Prayer: Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner.


Read: Psalm 26:7, 12b; Psalm 78:4; Psalm 81:1; Psalm 149:5;  Isaiah 42:12; Mark 5:18 – 19

A significant part of David’s spiritual walk, reflected in Psalm 26:7, involved proclaiming aloud thanksgiving to God and telling of His wondrous deeds.  David excelled in this aspect of spirituality; through his psalms the Holy Spirit has given God’s people songs of thanksgiving and praise that have endured for three thousand years and counting.  

Think About It: Jesus cast out a legion of demons from the Gadarene demoniac, and then told him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how He has had mercy on you.”  What can I tell my family and friends about how much the Lord has done for me, and how He has had mercy on me? Do I often speak of God’s wondrous deeds? Do I remember to thank God (Luke 17:15 – 18)?

Prayer: My gracious master, and my God, assist me to proclaim, to spread through all the earth abroad the honors of Thy name.


Read: Psalm 26:8; Psalm 84:1 – 4, 10; Isaiah 66:10; 2 Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 2:21 – 22; Hebrews 3:6; Hebrews 10:24 – 25

David’s spiritual walk, according to Psalm 26:8, included a deep love for God’s house, because God made His presence known there. For David, “God’s house” was the tent of the Tabernacle, which during his reign was set up in Gibeon (2 Samuel 7:2; 1 Chronicles 6:32; 21:29) about 5.5 miles north/northwest of Jerusalem.  

Think About It: What is “God’s house” for God’s people today? How does God’s glory dwell in His house today?  Do I love the habitation of God’s house? How can I demonstrate that love?

Prayer:  I love Thy church, O God; the house of Thine abode; the church our blessed Redeemer saved with His own precious blood.


Read: Psalm 26:11 – 12a; Psalm 40:2; Psalm 143:10; Isaiah 26:7; Deuteronomy 32:35; Luke 6:48 – 49; Philippians 4:1; 2 Thessalonians 2:15

David concluded his description of the spiritual walk to which he aspired with the affirmation of his firm footing.  In Psalm 40:2 David credited God with establishing that firm footing for him, pulling him up from the miry clay and setting his feet upon the rock.  Level ground is a precious commodity in mountainous terrain, and firm footing is of crucial importance for the warrior in battle; therefore the image of level space and firm footing is often used in Scripture to describe God’s provision for the security of God’s people.  Conversely, the slippery slope and sandy soil are images of spiritual danger and instability.

Think About It: What is the firm footing God has provided for me? How am I supposed to go about building on that firm footing (Luke 6:48; James 1:22 – 25)? What contributes to back-sliding? Am I building on the rock? Am I prepared to stand firm?

Prayer: Praise God for the solid rock of Jesus Christ and His words.