Psalm 26 - Judge me, O Lord, for I have walked

A very sweet psalm of the working together of works and faith.
v1 - I am afraid to pray for the Lord to judge, examine, prove and try me because I am afraid of suffering. But I realize it is far far better to have the Lord judge us now than when He returns, when it will cost much more suffering for less transformation (Matt 25:1-12). I would not compose such a prayer on my own, but I enjoy praying David's prayer, singing it over and over.

Such a prayer will drive me to have my own integrity in the Lord and to walk in it. Such a prayer and walk will cause us not to backslide and make us worthy to escape the great tribulation and stand before Jesus (Lk 21:36). By this kind of daily prayer we buy the Holy Spirit as the annointing oil now, and the Lord knows us in an intimate way (Matt 25:3-12; Jer 12:3; 1 Sam 17:39).

When we pray for the Lord to judge us now, we should give Him a reason: "For I have walked in my integrity, and I have put my trust in the Lord."  If His judging me should cause me suffering, still I have it settled in my heart that I will not be offended.

This psalm begins and ends (v11) with "my integrity". I do not like to mention "my integrity" to the Lord in prayer for fear of being self-righteous. However, each one of us needs to have integrity that is our own because we daily walk in it in dependence upon the Lord. It is right to mention this before the Lord to have the Lord expose it whether it is really my integrity or my pride or self-righteousness.
v2 - Not only judge me, but also examine me, prove me, and try my reins and my heart. The Hebrew word bachan, "examine", is used for refining gold (Job23:10;etc).
The Hebrew word tsaraph, "try", is used for refining of silver (Zech 13:9; etc).
The Hebrew word nasah, "prove",  means to put to the test (Gen 22:1; etc). It is often used negatively of man testing God (Ps 95:9). The corresponding Greek word is used in the NT of satan as the tempter (Matt 4:3; 1 Thes 3:5).
The Lord said that we should pray to not enter into temptation (Matt 6:13; 26:41). This agrees with prayers in the Old Testament (Prov 30:7-9; Ps 13:4). We should realize that we are weak and if put into a tempting situation we may sin. So we should flee such situations and pray to be kept from them.
The prayer here is not for the Lord to put us in a temptation to sin, but to prove whether what I think I have of the Lord is real. We do not ask for suffering, but we give the Lord the freedom to do what He knows is best for us, knowing that the Lord knows what we are able to take (1 Cor 10:13).
The Greek and old English words for "temptation" have 2 meanings: 1) to find out the real nature of something; and 2) to entice to sin. When we pray to not be led into temptation, it is the 2nd meaning. The Hebrew word only has the 1st meaning.
v3 - As in v1, David gives the Lord reasons for examining, proving and trying him: "Because Your mercy is before my eyes, and I have walked in Your truth." Mercy and truth always go together (Ps 25:10).

In v1 David puts together something of works, "walked in my integrity" with something of faith, "trusted in the Lord". Here it is the same except that the faith item, "before my eyes is Your mercy", comes before the works item, "in Your truth I have walked". Works should cause us to trust in the Lord more substantially. Seeing the Lord's mercy causes us to walk more deeply according to His truth. David also does the same in the final verses of the psalm (v11).
v4-5-The company we keep strongly effects our faith and our works (1 Cor 15:33). After a while we will become numb to the disingenuity.

Both v4 and v5 1st state what David has done in the  past, and then what he will do in the future.

We should not mingle with those who are called Christians who practice these wicked  things (1 Cor 5:9-13).  In 2006 my church went through a damaging split. One side sued the other side in a number of localities. I refrained from shaking the hand of the Christian leader who took a leading role in those lawsuits. He was my friend, but by my not shaking his hand, I wanted him to know that he is not approved by God (1 Cor 6:1-10).
Later I had the opportunity to tell him why I did not shake his hand. He did not agree that he had done wrong, and we just agreed to disagree. After that I felt there was no reason not to shake his hand anymore, since I had told him what he had done wrong. I leave it to be his responsibility to the Lord, and we are friends again.
v6 -  To turn unto Your altar is to consecrate yourself to the Lord (Rom 12:1; James 2:21) on the cross.
v7 - "To" tells us that this is the purpose of the consecration and crossing out in the preceding verse.
To speak with the voice of thanksgiving is more important than what we actually say, providing it is truth. This verse does not tell us what David would publish, just that he would do it with the voice of thanksgiving.

The "and" beginning the 2nd 1/2 of the verse means that this is something additional to the 1st 1/2 of the verse. The verse does not say that David told all the Lord's wonders with the voice of thanksgiving, but that he spoke with the voice of thanksgiving AND in addition to that he also told all the Lord's wonders.
v8 - From verses 4-5 one might think we should be loners. No! We need the Lord's house. We should love the Lord and His house, which is His church, practically and locally (1 John 4:20).
vv 9-10 - A church can become like this. Evil devices such as excommunication for an unscriptural reason, slanders, peer pressure, fear, superstitions and even lawsuits can be used by religious people to hold their group together or to keep their leadership position (Jn 9:34-35; 3 Jn 10).  

We should pray to the Lord to keep us out of such a gathering and not trust in our own discernment. If we trust in our own discernment we will likely reject the Lord's house because the altar is there to cross us out (v6).
v11-12 - This psalm ends as it began except that v1 is past tense and this verse is present/future. The Lord does not want us to forget this message.

If we have purposed to walk in our integrity, we will find grace from God. It is not that we earn the grace, but that we will put the grace to good use.

"He who purposes to walk uprightly has the right to expect God's delivering and giving hand to be extended to him. The resolve to walk uprightly unaccompanied with the prayer for that hand to uphold is as rash as the prayer without the resolve is vain. But if these 2 go together, quiet confidence will steal into the heart; and though there be no change in circumstances, the mood of mind will be so soothed and lightened that the suppliant will feel that he has suddenly emerged from the steep gorge where he has been struggling and shut up, and stands on the level ground of the 'shining table-lands, whereof our God Himself is sun and moon.' Such peaceful foretaste of coming security is the forerunner which visits the faithful heart." - Alexander MacLaren, The Book of Psalms.

-copyright Steve Miller 2010
updated 7/9/2010
written 6/25/2010