A Psalm of David.

This is another psalm by David, Israel’s great king. In it, David pleads for the LORD to stand up for his innocence when he is falsely accused. In this psalm, David becomes a picture of his great Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, Who, though He was condemned by the corrupt rulers of this world, was vindicated by the Father when He raised Him from the dead.

1.  Vindicate me, O LORD,

This is David’s plea to the LORD, for he knows that he has done nothing wrong. It is hard indeed to be accused of something you did not do, particularly when many seem to believe that you did it! Yet David believes that the LORD knows his innocence, and he calls upon Him to be the One to vindicate him. In the same way, we know that the LORD knows the truth about us when we are accused, and knows when we are innocent or guilty, even when those around us do not.

For I have walked in my integrity.

David can rightfully insist that he has done no wrong, walking only in integrity. It gives us great freedom to be able to say this truthfully when accused, though the guilty are just as likely to claim this as the innocent. Yet these words are given to us by divine inspiration, and we know that David was indeed innocent of all that he was accused of here, just as the Lord Jesus was innocent of any charge brought against Him.

I have also trusted in the LORD;

Not only has David walked in his integrity in the past, but he tells us that he has also trusted in the LORD for the future.

I shall not slip.

Because he has trusted the LORD with his future, David is confident that he will not slip, but will continue to walk in his integrity in time to come, just as he has done up until now.

2.  Examine me, O LORD, and prove me;

Because he knows his innocence, David calls upon the LORD to examine and prove him. He knows that such an examination and proving will find him innocent.

Try my mind and my heart.

To “try” here means to test. David wants the LORD to test his mind and heart, which we know means his thoughts and his feelings. He knows that when he is thus tested, it will be found that his claims of innocence are true. How strongly this reminds us of David’s great Descendant, Jesus Christ, in Whom God found no sin at all, and was truly well pleased.

3.  For Your lovingkindness is before my eyes,

It is the LORD’s lovingkindness, His very grace, before David’s eyes that convinces him that he can be found innocent before the LORD. Indeed, without grace none of us could hope to be found guiltless in His sight.

And I have walked in Your truth.

This is what David did on a habitual basis. He did not just pick up a little bit of truth, and take that with him as he walked in error. He did not combine truth with the traditions of the world around him and the teachings of those who were well-respected in the community or well-known as religious authorities. His walk was in the truth, the only place one truly interested in serving the Lord Jesus should be found walking. Yet alas, how few are willing to make it their habitual practice to walk in the truth! For it is far more comfortable to walk in the familiar paths of error that have been followed by so many before us.

4.  I have not sat with idolatrous mortals,

This is a strange translation in the NKJV, the version I always use for these studies. For what does the word “mortals” mean here? Was David not a mortal? Are people who are not idolatrous not mortals? “Empty people” would seem to be a better translation, though “empty” can be used for idols, since they are supposed to be gods but are actually empty of any power or personality at all. The idea here is that David has not settled himself in a place with people like this, for when you sit in a place you are settling yourself down in it. With people like this is not a place where you would find him relaxing or making his place of rest.

Nor will I go in with hypocrites.

These hypocrites are those who go counterculture, especially when the culture is good or wholesome or right. They are rebels whenever things are as they should be, seeking to take apart what is better left together. These too are people that David would not “go in” to be with, but instead he would avoid them.

5.  I have hated the assembly of evildoers,

“Assembly” here is kahal, and means the representative body or company of such evildoers. Idolaters and hypocrites David will not spend time with, but for those who practice those wicked works that bring calamity he has outright hated. When those who do evil assemble, it is to plan further evil deeds. This kind of gathering is hateful to David. And again, we cannot help but think of the Lord Jesus and how He was adversary to those in Israel who had power and were considered religious leaders, yet acted as hypocrites and evildoers.

And will not sit with the wicked.

Again, “sit” indicates settling down with someone to fellowship with them. David will not make his place with those who are wicked. And this is something for us to keep in mind, for we should not make it our habitual place to be with wicked men either.

6.  I will wash my hands in innocence;

We wash our hands to cleanse them from dirt, so washing his hands here symbolizes purifying himself and making himself clean. David claims he will do this with innocence. It is his innocence with which he will cleanse himself. Again, he knows he is not guilty of the charge laid against him, and he is assured that his innocence will purify him in the end.

So I will go about Your altar, O LORD,

There is no need to wonder at this, as some do, since we know that the temple was not yet built. Yet we know that, though the temple was built in the days of Solomon, David’s son, the altar of the LORD was before God’s tabernacle from the time of Moses. It was this altar David was referring to, not the one that had not been made yet for the temple.

To remove uncleanness, one had to be cleansed with a water ritual. Then one could be allowed to go about the LORD’s altar. Yet David claims that his only defilement is the false accusation against him, and his innocence will cleanse him from this accusation so that he can be clean to go about the LORD’s altar.

7.  That I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving,

When David was forced to flee for his life from Jerusalem, he was cut off from worshipping at the tabernacle. Yet he anticipates that his innocence will cleanse him and bring him back to that altar. And he knows when that time comes, he will proclaim what the LORD has done for him with the voice of thanksgiving. How good it is, when our Lord brings us out of difficulties, that we remember to give Him the praise and thanksgiving! We must strive to never forget all He has done for us.

And tell of all Your wondrous works.

He again anticipates not only giving thanks to the LORD upon his return to stand before His altar, but also telling others of the wonderful works that have brought him back there. Our LORD has done wonderful things for us as well in saving us from our sins and bringing us unto Himself. Let us ever be ready to tell others of all these wondrous things He has done for us!

8.  LORD, I have loved the habitation of Your house,

It seems that what hurt David the most about the false accusations against him and his enforced exile was that he was cut off from God’s tabernacle. Thus, he speaks to the LORD here, telling Him how much he loved the habitation of His house. His earnest desire and hope is that the LORD will bring him back to that house again.

And the place where Your glory dwells.

David describes the tabernacle, the LORD’s house, as the place where His glory dwells. One’s glory is his reputation and the esteem others hold him in. The LORD’s reputation, His esteem, was centered around that Tabernacle in Israel. And since David loved the character of the LORD he served, he loved the place where that character was manifested.

9.  Do not gather my soul with sinners,

David now pleads with the LORD that He will not destroy his soul along with sinners. David has made his plea for innocence, and now he calls upon the LORD to hear his plea and not destroy him as if he was guilty. Of course, the LORD knew David was not guilty, and that is why He allowed these words to be written in the Scriptures. From this, we know most certainly that David was in no danger of having his soul destroyed with sinners. He was a man whom God had justified, and all such are free from any danger of destruction.

Nor my life with bloodthirsty men,

David repeats his plea in slightly different words for solemn emphasis. The LORD will not destroy his life with bloodthirsty men.

10.  In whose hands is a sinister scheme,

These sinners and bloodthirsty men are so often found doing sinister and wicked things. What is in one’s hand is in one’s power, ready to be used, and these men are thus ready to work evil. But that is not how David is found in the sight of God.

And whose right hand is full of bribes.

These wicked men are just as ready to give or take bribes and pervert justice as they are to work their sinful works in the first place. These are the type who think that a little money in the right places can help them get away with anything. David was not the type of ruler who would take bribes or give them to get himself out of trouble. He knows that he is innocent, and he calls upon the LORD to act upon that.

11.  But as for me, I will walk in my integrity;

David compares his own manner of life with that of these sinners and bloodthirsty men. He walks in integrity. That is why the LORD will not gather his soul with sinners.

Redeem me and be merciful to me.

Though David is innocent, he still needs redemption and deliverance. As we saw above, he was being accused of something he did not do. Therefore, he calls upon the LORD for help. David knows that he does not deserve such help from the LORD, so it is to His grace that he appeals, asking that God in his mercy will deliver him.

12.  My foot stands in an even place;

David is assured that, as he walks in integrity, as he has done and has promised the LORD he will continue to do, that his footing will be firm, standing upon an even place. Of course, he was not referring to his literal feet, but rather to the foundation of his life. He knows that his life will have a firm and solid foundation as long as he continues to live righteously, and the LORD continues to be with him.

In the congregations I will bless the LORD.

David was the head of the congregation of Israel, being its king. He knows that he has been vindicated by the LORD. Now, he promises the LORD that in those congregations he will bless Him. We may not be kings, but we too can speak of the wonders of the LORD to those with whom we come in contact. For they all need to know of the One Who saves and delivers us!