Psalm 26

Psalm 26


Of David.A

VindicateB me, O Lord,C
    for I have walkedD in my integrity,E
    and I have trustedF in the Lord without wavering.G

Notes on superscript-verse 1

A “David” = david. From the same as dod (beloved, love, uncle); the root may mean to boil, which is used figuratively to describe love. So, this implies someone you love such as a friend, a lover, or a close family member like an uncle. David’s name likely means something like “beloved one.”
B “vindicate” = shaphat. This is to judge, defend, pronounce judgment, condemn, or govern. It can refer to God judging or to human judges. This is pronouncing a verdict in favor or against so it implies consequences or punishment. It can also mean to litigate or govern as one with authority.
C “Lord” = YHVH. From havah (to be, become) or hayah (to come to pass, become, be). This is the name of the God of Israel, the self-existent and eternal one, the tetragrammaton. This pronunciation has been lost to time so “Lord” is generally used in its place.
D “walked” = halak. This is go, come, walk. It is walk literally and figuratively and includes people and animals. It can be used figuratively for one’s moral life – how we walk according to God’s way or against it. It can also refer to the walk of life as in the course one’s life takes, the choices we make, etc.
E “integrity” = tom. From tamam (to finish or accomplish; to make perfect, demonstrate that you are upright; consume; to complete in a literal or figurative sense). This is completeness or full measure. So, it can be blameless, moral innocence, prosperity, or integrity. Also used to refer to a portion of the high priest’s breastplate.
F “trusted” = batach. This is to hide for refuge, be secure or sure. Figuratively, it refers to trust, being confident, or hoping.
G “wavering” = maad. 6x in OT. This is to slip, totter, shake, or waver.

ProveH me, O Lord, and tryI me;
    testJ my heartK and mind.L

Notes on verse 2

H “prove” = bachan. This is to examine, test, or prove – as one tests metals. It can also be used literally or figuratively for investigating or trying.
I “try” = nasah. This is to test, prove, try, tempt, or attempt.
J “test” = tsaraph. This is to refine, smalt, or fuse metal. It can also refer to the smelter (goldsmith or silversmith). Figuratively, this is refine in a literal or figurative sense – to test or try, make pure.
K “heart” = leb. May be related to labab (to encourage; properly, to be encased as with fat; used in a good sense, this means to transport someone with love; used in a bad sense, it can mean to dull one’s senses). This is the heart, courage, one’s inner self, the mind, or the will. Heart is only used in a figurative sense in the Old and New Testaments.
L “mind” = kilyah. Perhaps from keli (something that was prepared – any implement, utensil, article, vessel, weapon, or instrument; also includes jewels, weapons, bags, carriages, and furniture); from kalah (to end, be finished, complete, prepare, consume, spent, or completely destroyed). This is inward parts, such as kidney or heart. It can also be inmost being as feelings, mind, or within.

For your steadfast loveM is before my eyes,
    and I walk in faithfulnessN to you.

I do not sitO with the worthless,P
    nor do I consort with hypocrites;Q

Notes on verses 3-4

M “steadfast love” = chesed. From chasad (being good, kind, merciful; may mean bowing one’s neck as is done in the presence of an equal for courtesy’s sake; so, if one in a superior position is treating you like an equal, that is what is captured here). This is favor, goodness, kindness, loving kindness, pity, reproach, or a good deed. When done by God to humanity, this is mercy/loving kindness. When done by humanity to God, it is piety.
N “faithfulness” = emet. From aman (to believe, endure, fulfill, confirm, support, be faithful, put one’s trust in, be steadfast. Figuratively, this is to be firm, steadfast, or faithful, trusting, believing, being permanent, morally solid). This is firmness or stability. Figuratively, it is faithfulness, truth, or trustworthiness. This is the same root that “amen” comes from.
O “sit” = yashab. This is to sit and so to remain and so to dwell. It is sitting for any reason – as a judge, in order to ambush, or just sitting quietly. Causatively, this can mean settling or marrying. This can also mean continue, endure, or establish.
P “worthless” = math + shav. Literally “worthless person.” Math is perhaps form the same as mathay (when, how, length of time). This is a man, associate, friend, number. It is an adult or mortal. Shav is perhaps from the same as sho (ruin, desolation, storm; from a root that means rushing over – hence a storm and hence devastation). This is emptiness, false, worthless, deceit. It can also refer to evil, guile, idolatry, or something being in vain.
Q “hypocrites” = alam. This is to conceal, cover from sight in a literal or figurative sense. Could be to escape, liar, neglect, or secret thing.

I hateR the companyS of evildoers,T
    and will not sit with the wicked.U

Notes on verse 5

R “hate” = sane. This is an enemy or foe. It is one that is hated with a personal hatred.
S “company” = qahal. This is an assembly, congregation, or multitude.
T “evildoers” = ra’a’. This is to be evil, bad, afflict. Properly, it means to spoil – to destroy by breaking into pieces. Figuratively, it is to cause something to be worthless. It is bad in a physical, social, or moral sense – something that displeases, does harm or mischief, punishes or vexes.
U “wicked” = rasha. This is morally wrong so it refers to someone who is actively bad as wicked, criminal, an evil person, offender, condemned, or ungodly.

I wash my handsV in innocence,W
    and go aroundX your altar,Y O Lord,

Notes on verse 6

V “hands” = kaph. From kaphaph (to bend – from a root meaning curve or bend down). This is palm of the hand or sole of the foot, footstep, grasp. Figuratively, it can also mean power.
W “innocence” = niqqayon. 5x in OT. From naqah (to be empty, cleanse, acquit; to be clean in a literal or figurative sense). This is cleanness, clearness, or innocence.
X “go around” = sabab. This is turning around, going around; to surround, cast, walk, fetch. It is to revolve or border in a literal or figurative sense.
Y “altar” = mizbeach. From zabach (to kill, slay, offer; slaughtering an animal to offer as a sacrifice). This is an altar.

singing aloudZ a songAA of thanksgiving,BB
    and tellingCC all your wondrous deeds.DD

Notes on verse 7

Z “singing aloud” = shama. This is to hear, call, consent, or consider. It implies listening intelligently, giving attention, and, because of these two factors, obedience and action are often implied.
AA “song” = qol. This is a sound, used often for human voices. Also used when God speaks or angels, animals or instruments. It can be a cry or a noise, thunder or earthquakes and so on.
BB “thanksgiving” = todah. From yadah (to throw one’s hands into the air in a gesture of praise, to give thanks, or make a confession); from yad (hand, ability, power; hand in a literal sense; what one can do or the means by which one does it). This I properly extending one’s hand, which implies affirmation and adoration. It can be a song of thanksgiving, a choir of thanksgiving, confession, or praise. It can also be a thank offering.
CC “telling” = saphar. From sepher (writing, document, book, evidence). This is properly to tally or record something. It can be enumerate, recount, number, celebrate, or declare.
DD “wondrous deeds” = pala. From pele (wonder, miracle, wonderful, marvelous thing). This is to be extraordinary, to arise, to be great or accomplish.

O Lord, I love the house in which you dwell,EE
    and the placeFF where your gloryGG abides.HH

Notes on verse 8

EE “house in which you dwell” = maon + bayit. Literally “the habitation of your house.” Maon is 17x in OT. From anah (to answer, sing, announce) OR from the same as onah (root may means to cohabitate; marriage or duty within marriage). This is a dwelling or home in reference to people; a lair, haunt, or den in reference to animals. It could also be a retreat or asylum. Bayit is probably from banah (to build, make, set up, obtain children; to build literally or figuratively). This is house, court, family, palace, temple.
FF “place” = maqom. From qum(to arise, stand, accomplish, establish, abide; rising against, getting up after being sick or asleep, arising from one state to another, becoming powerful, or rising for action; standing in a figurative sense). This is a standing, which is to say a spot or space a place. It can also refer to a locality or a physical/mental condition. HaMaqom is also a Jewish name for God – the place, i.e. the Omnipresent One.
GG “glory” = kabod. From kabad (to be heavy, weighty, burdensome). This is weighty. Figuratively, glorious, abundant, riches, honor, splendor – a reference to one’s reputation or character. This word is often used to describe God and God’s presence.
HH “abides” = mishkan. From shakan (to settle down in the sense of residing somewhere or staying there permanently; to abide or continue). This is a place where one lives – a tabernacle, tent, or other kind of dwelling. It can also be a lair where animals live, the grave, the Temple, or the Tabernacle.

Do not sweep meII awayJJ with sinners,KK
    nor my lifeLL with the bloodthirsty,MM

Notes on verse 9

II “me” = nephesh. Related to naphash (to refresh or be refreshed). This is soul, self, person, emotion. It is a breathing creature. Can also refer to appetites and desires.
JJ “sweep…away” = asaph. This is to gather, assemble, or bring. It can also mean to take away, destroy, or remove.
KK “sinners” = chatta. 19x in OT. From chata (to miss, sin, carry blame, lack). This is sinful or sinner. It is a criminal or someone who is seen as guilty.
LL “life” = chay. From chayah (to live or keep alive literally or figuratively). This is alive, living, lifetime. It can also be used to describe someone’s age. It can refer to animals, plants, water, or a company or congregation of people. It is life in a very broad sense.
MM “bloodthirsty” = ish + dam. Literally “men of blood.” Ish is perhaps from enosh (human, humankind, mortal); from anash (to be weak, sick, or frail). This is man, husband, another, or humankind. Dam is perhaps from damam (to cease, be or become mute, silent, still, cut off, hold peace, be astonished, die). This is blood, bloodshed, bloodguilt, lifeblood, and death. It is used for people and animals. More often blood from a wound or the blood of the innocent. Used figuratively for violence or for wine. Closely tied to life and death.

10 those in whose handsNN are evil devices,OO
    and whose right handsPP are fullQQ of bribes.RR

Notes on verse 10

NN “hands” = yad. Related to “thanksgiving” in v7. See note BB above.
OO “evil devices” = zimmah. From zamam (to devise, plot, imagine, intend, scheme, think evil; usually in an evil sense). This is a plan – usually a negative one. So, it could be a scheme, wickedness, mischief, immorality, a crime, or evil intent.
PP “right hands” = yamin. May be from yamam (to go or choose the right, use the right hand; to be physically fit or firm). This can mean right hand, right side, or south. Since most people are right-handed, the metaphorical usage of this word presumes that the right hand is stronger and more agile. Thus, it is the instrument of power and action.
QQ “full” = male. This is fill, satisfy, replenish, accomplish, fulfill, confirm, or consecrate. It is fill in a literal or figurative sense.
RR “bribes” = shochad. From shachad (to give a present, reward, or bribe; to donate or hire). This is a present, reward, or bribe. It is some kind of donation positive or negative.

11 But as for me, I walk in my integrity;
    redeemSS me, and be graciousTT to me.

12 My foot standsUU on level ground;VV
    in the great congregationWW I will blessXX the Lord.

Notes on verses 11-12

SS “redeem” = padah. This is to sever, which is to say to ransom. To secure someone’s release (by paying their debt to free them from slavery) and thus redeem, rescue, deliver, preserve. Can also be the redemption price.
TT “be gracious” = chanan. This is to beseech, show favor, be gracious. Properly, it is to bend in kindness to someone with less status.
UU “stands” = amad. This is to stand up in a literal or figurative sense. So it can be establish, continue, endure, take a stand, act, be a servant, stand still, remain, stand against an enemy.
VV “level ground” = mishor. From yashar (to be straight, right, even, smooth, or agreeable; figuratively, to make something pleasant or prosperous) This is a level place like a plain. It can also be the proper name of a level place. Figuratively, it can refer to straightness in the sense of justice, equity, fairness, righteousness, or uprightness. It can also refer to a concord.
WW “congregation” = maqhel. Related to “company” in v5. 2x in OT. From the same as qahal (see note S above). This is an assembly or congregation.
XX “bless” = barak. This is to kneel, to bless. It is blessing God as part of worship and adoration or blessing humans to help them. It can be used as a euphemism to say curse God.

Image credit: “Zechariah in the Temple” by Jan Lievens, 17th century.

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