<<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.
Verse 1. - Judge me, O Lord; for I have walked in mine integrity. It seems to Christians a bold act to call on God for judgment, but the saints of the earlier dispensation, having, perhaps, a less keen sense of human imperfection, were wont to do so. It is Job's cry from his first utterance until his "words are ended;" and here we find David taking it up and re-echoing it. Man longs to hear the sentence of acquittal from the great Judge. Like Job, David asserts his "integrity," and in the same qualified sense. He is sincere in his endeavours to do right. Yet still he needs mercy and redemption (see ver. 11). I have trusted also in the Lord; therefore I shall not slide. (comp. Psalm 18:36; Psalm 37:31). David is confident of his past; for the future he trusts in God to uphold his steps, and save him from slips and falls.
Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; try my reins and my heart.
Verse 2. - Examine me, O Lord, and prove me. He desires to be examined and proved - tested, as a metal is tested (comp. Psalm 17:3) - that his sincerity may fully appear. Try my reins and my heart; i.e. my emotional and my intellectual natures.
For thy lovingkindness is before mine eyes: and I have walked in thy truth.
Verse 3. - For thy loving-kindness is before mine eyes. The psalmist now enters upon an enumeration of the points of conduct on which his confidence in his integrity rests. They are six - three positive and three negative. First of all, he keeps God's loving-kindness, or mercy (חֶסֶד), ever before his eyes - reflects on it, meditates on it, presents it to his thought - continually. And I have walked in thy truth. Secondly, he walks - he has always walked - in God s truth. God's Law is the truth (Psalm 119:42); and walking in God's truth is walking in the Law which he has given to men; as Hitzig, Maurer, and others have seen. Hengstenberg's exposition, "I have constantly thought upon thy faithfulness," cannot be admitted.
I have not sat with vain persons, neither will I go in with dissemblers.
Verse 4. - I have not sat with vain persons. Thirdly, he has not sat with vain persons; literally, with men of vanity; i.e. he has not consorted (Psalm 1:1) with light and frivolous persons - those whose hearts are set upon vain and worthless things (see Psalm 24:4, and the comment). Neither will I go in with dissemblers. Nor will he go in with (nor has he, we may conclude, gone in with) dissemblers, i.e. hypocrites. He has neither thrown in his lot with the light, vain persons who make no pretence to religion, nor with the pretenders, who "have the form of godliness, but deny the power thereof" (2 Timothy 3:5).
I have hated the congregation of evil doers; and will not sit with the wicked.
Verse 5. - I have hated the congregation of evil-doers. Fifthly, he has hated, and hates, with a holy and strong abhorrence (comp. Psalm 139:22), the congregation of evil-deers - the gatherings and assemblies of those who meet only for wicked purposes - to sin themselves, and to draw others into like evil courses. This is a positive trait of a very marked character, and goes far beyond the explanation which has been given of it: "I take no part in assemblies for the ruin of others" (Hengstenberg). Sixthly and lastly, he will not sit with the wicked. This only goes beyond the declarations in ver. 4 by extending to all wicked persons of every kind the avoidance there limited to "vain persons," and "dissemblers." The spirit is that indicated by Jacob in Genesis 49:6; by St. Paul, in 1 Corinthians 5:9-11 and Ephesians 5:7, 11; and by St. John, on the celebrated occasion when he avoided contact with Cerinthus (Iren., 3:3, § 4).
I will wash mine hands in innocency: so will I compass thine altar, O LORD:
Verse 6. - I will wash mine hands in innoceney; so will I compass thine altar, O Lord. This seems to be the key-note of the psalm. If not a necessary, it is at any rate a probable, exegesis, that David composed this psalm on an occasion when he was about to offer a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving to God for some mercy recently vouchsafed him (ver. 7). Before offering, he feels the necessity of doing spiritually that which the priest' who officiated would have to do ceremonially (Exodus 30:17-21) - to "wash his hands in innocency, and so to go to God's altar." His self-justification from ver. 1 to ver. 5 has had for its object to clear him from guilt.
That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works.
Verse 7. - That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving; rather, to sound forth the voice of thanksgiving (Kay); or, to make the voice of thanksgiving to be heard (Revised Version). And tell of all thy wondrous works; or, recount them, enumerate them.
LORD, I have loved the habitation of thy house, and the place where thine honour dwelleth.
Verse 8. - Lord, I have loved the habitation of thy house; i.e. "the home that thy house affords me." It has been my delight to remain there, to pass long hours there, as it were to dwell there (comp. Psalm 23:6; Psalm 27:4; Psalm 63:2). And the place where thine honour dwelleth; literally, the place of the tabernacling of thy glory - the place where thy glory - the Shechinah - is enshrined and abides.
Gather not my soul with sinners, nor my life with bloody men:
Verse 9. - Gather not my soul with sinners. Unite me not in one doom with open sinners - those with whom I have always refused to consort (vers. 4, 5) - whose congregation I have "hated." "That the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" (Genesis 18:25). Nor my life with bloody men. Bloody men - literally, men of bloods - are the worst of wicked men, cut-throats, assassins, murderers. At any rate, put me not on a par with them. Little, probably, did the psalmist think at this time how soon he was to become, practically, a murderer, and to "slay Uriah the Hittite with the sword of the children of Ammon" (2 Samuel 12:9)
In whose hands is mischief, and their right hand is full of bribes.
Verse 10. - In whose hands is mischief; i.e. who are always occupied with some mischief or other - always engaged in carrying out wicked devices (see Proverbs 12:2; Proverbs 14:17). And their right hand is full of bribes. Which they have taken to condemn the innocent (comp. Psalm 15:5; Isaiah 1:23; Jeremiah 22:17, Ezekiel 22:12; Hosea 4:10; Micah 3:11, etc.).
But as for me, I will walk in mine integrity: redeem me, and be merciful unto me.
Verse 11. - But as for me, I will walk in mine integrity; i.e. I will continue to walk as I have walked hitherto (see ver. 1) - I will be "integer vitae scelerisque purus" - a brave and good resolve. Had he but kept to it! Redeem me, and be merciful unto me (compare the comment on ver. 1). Though hitherto he has walked innocently, and is resolved still to continue to walk innocently; he nevertheless feels that he has need of redeeming mercy. Though he "knows nothing by himself, yet he is not thereby justified" (1 Corinthians 4:4). Many, doubtless, are his "secret sins," which God has "set in the light of his countenance" (Psalm 90:8).
My foot standeth in an even place: in the congregations will I bless the LORD.
Verse 12. - My foot standeth in an even place; or, on level ground - where there is nothing to cause me to stumble (comp. Psalm 27:11). In the congregations will I bless the Lord; i.e. in the assemblies of the people for public worship. David constantly acknowledges this duty (Psalm 22:22, 25: 27:6; 35:18; 40:9, 10; 68:26, etc.). Indeed, it is the general idea that underlies all his psalms of praise, since they wore composed to be recited in the congregation.