Psalm 26 – “Petition/Protestation of Innocence”

Hebrew-English Text
I. Summary
The psalmist protests his innocence and begs God to keep him from evil-doers.

II. Photo
The psalmist proclaims his innocence: “I wash my hands in innocence, and walk around your altar, O Lord!” (v. 6)

III. Select Verses    
1b-3: Vindicate me, O LORD, for I have walked without blame; I have trusted in the LORD; I have not faltered. Probe me, O LORD, and try me, test my heart and mind; for my eyes are on Your steadfast love; I have set my course by it.
4-5: I do not consort with scoundrels, or mix with hypocrites;  I detest the company of evil men, and do not consort with the wicked;
8-10: O LORD, I love Your temple abode, the dwelling-place of Your glory. Do not sweep me away with sinners, or [snuff out] my life with murderers, who have schemes at their fingertips, and hands full of bribes.

IV. Outline
1a. Superscription
1b-7. Invocation, Proclamation of innocence and devotion
8. Invocation, affirmation of confidence
9-10. Petition: independence from evil-doers
11-12. Wish, petition, vow

V. Comment
One aspect of psalm-study is determining how a psalm was used in everyday life. Psalm 29, which is mostly a protestation of innocence, mentions temple rites in vv. 6-7: “I wash my hands in innocence, and walk around Your altar, O Lord, raising my voice in thanksgiving, and telling all Your wonders!” It is probably because of these verses that Craigie writes: “The most appropriate interpretation of the psalm’s form and setting is that proposed by Vogt, who identifies the psalm with a ritual for pilgrims at the temple gates. Thus the psalm should be viewed in its original form and setting as part of an entrance liturgy utilized in a ritual at the temple prior to participation in worship… The words of the psalm would be spoken by each worshiper (presumably as a group) in response to an initial question or statement from the priest. And the statements providing the assurance that God has heard their prayer (vv 1b, 12) may have followed certain priestly declarations not contained in the text of the psalm.” (224).

VI. Works Used
(see “Commentaries” page)
Collins, John J. “Introduction to the Hebrew Bible,” (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2004).
Craigie, Peter C. “Psalms 1-50” Word Biblical Commentary vol. 19 (Waco, Texas: Wordbooks, 1983).
Gerstenberger, Erhard S. “Psalms Part 1 with an Introduction to Cultic Poetry” Forms of Old Testament Literature (Michigan: Eerdmans, 1988).
Photo copied from http://www.sanjoseca.gov/wellness/images/washing%20hands.JPG

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