New American Standard Bible
Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure And washed my hands in innocence;
King James Bible
Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency.
Darby Bible Translation
Truly have I purified my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency:
World English Bible
Surely in vain I have cleansed my heart, and washed my hands in innocence,
Young's Literal Translation
Only -- a vain thing! I have purified my heart, And I wash in innocency my hands,
Psalm 73:13 Parallel
CommentaryBarnes' Notes on the Bible
So in Shakespeare, Richard III:
How fain, like Pilate, would I wash my hands
Of this most grievous, guilty murder done!
And make my hands never so clean - Or, rather, should I cleanse my hands with lye, or alkali. The word בור bôr, means properly purity, cleanliness, pureness; and then it is used to denote that which cleanses, alkali, lye, or vegetable salt. The ancients made use of this, mingled with oil, instead of soap, for the purpose of washing, and also in smelting metals, to make them melt more readily; see the note at Isaiah 1:25. The Chaldee renders it accurately, באהלא - in soap. I have no doubt that this is the sense, and that Job means to say, if he should make use of the purest water and of soap to cleanse himself, still he would be regarded as impure. God would throw him at once into the ditch, and he would be covered with moral filth and defilement again in his sight.
Psalm 73:13Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain - That is, There is no advantage in all my efforts to become pure and holy. It does not assist me in obtaining the favor of God; and it would be just as well to live a sinful life - to indulge in the pleasures of sense - to make the world my portion. Nothing is to be gained by all my painful efforts at self-discipline; by all my endeavors to become righteous. It would have been as well for me - or better - if I had lived a life of sin like other people. The righteous obtain from God fewer blessings than the wicked; they have less happiness and less prosperity in this world; they are subjected to more trouble and sorrow; and to all else there must be added the struggles, the conflict, the warfare, the painful effort "to be" pure, and to lead a holy life, all of which is now seen to be of no advantage whatever. Such thoughts as these were not confined to the psalmist. They are thoughts which will start up in the mind, and which it is not easy to calm down.
And washed my hands in innocency - That is, It has been of no use that I have washed my hands in innocency. The word "innocency" here means "purity." He had washed his hands in that which was pure; as, pure water. To wash the hands is emblematic of innocence or purity. See the notes at Psalm 26:6.
Library"Let us Pray"
Nevertheless, prayer is the best used means of drawing near to God. You will excuse me, then, if in considering my text this morning, I confine myself entirely to the subject of prayer. It is in prayer mainly, that we draw near to God, and certainly it can be said emphatically of prayer, it is good for every man who knoweth how to practice that heavenly art, in it to draw near unto God. To assist your memories, that the sermon may abide with you in after days, I shall divide my discourse this morning …
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 6: 1860
Of a Low Estimation of Self in the Sight of God
Covenanting Adapted to the Moral Constitution of Man.
Cæsarius of Arles.
'Who is the Almighty, that we should serve Him, And what would we gain if we entreat Him?'
"For he has said, 'It profits a man nothing When he is pleased with God.'
"For you say, 'What advantage will it be to You? What profit will I have, more than if I had sinned?'
I shall wash my hands in innocence, And I will go about Your altar, O LORD,
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