Psalms 26:6 MEANING

Psalm 26:6
(6) I will wash.--First a symbolical action (Deuteronomy 21:6 seq.; Matthew 27:24), then a figure of speech (Job 9:30; Ezekiel 36:25). The Levitical authorship or, at all events, the Levitical character of the psalm appears from comparison of this with Exodus 30:17 seq.

So will I.--Better, that I may, &c. There is no other reference in Jewish literature to the custom of pacing round the altar, but it was a very natural and obvious addition to a gorgeous ceremonial--like the processions in churches where a high ceremonial is adopted. It is, however, implied from the Talmud that it was part of the ceremonial of the Feast of Tabernacles for people to march round the altar with palms.

Verse 6. - I will wash mine hands in innoceney; so will I compass thine altar, O Lord. This seems to be the key-note of the psalm. If not a necessary, it is at any rate a probable, exegesis, that David composed this psalm on an occasion when he was about to offer a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving to God for some mercy recently vouchsafed him (ver. 7). Before offering, he feels the necessity of doing spiritually that which the priest' who officiated would have to do ceremonially (Exodus 30:17-21) - to "wash his hands in innocency, and so to go to God's altar." His self-justification from ver. 1 to ver. 5 has had for its object to clear him from guilt.

26:9 David, in this psalm, appeals to God touching his integrity. - David here, by the Spirit of prophecy, speaks of himself as a type of Christ, of whom what he here says of his spotless innocence was fully and eminently true, and of Christ only, and to Him we may apply it. We are complete in him. The man that walks in his integrity, yet trusting wholly in the grace of God, is in a state of acceptance, according to the covenant of which Jesus was the Mediator, in virtue of his spotless obedience even unto death. This man desires to have his inmost soul searched and proved by the Lord. He is aware of the deceitfulness of his own heart; he desires to detect and mortify every sin; and he longs to be satisfied of his being a true believer, and to practise the holy commands of God. Great care to avoid bad company, is both a good evidence of our integrity, and a good means to keep us in it. Hypocrites and dissemblers may be found attending on God's ordinances; but it is a good sign of sincerity, if we attend upon them, as the psalmist here tells us he did, in the exercise of repentance and conscientious obedience. He feels his ground firm under him; and, as he delights in blessing the Lord with his congregations on earth, he trusts that shortly he shall join the great assembly in heaven, in singing praises to God and to the Lamb for evermore.I will wash my hands in innocency,.... The Vulgate Latin version renders it, "among innocent persons"; men of a holy harmless life and conversation; with these he determined to converse in common, and not with such as before described; or the sense is, that he would wash his hands, in token of his innocence, integrity, and uprightness, he had before spoke of, and of his having nothing to do with such evil men as now mentioned; see Deuteronomy 21:6; "hands" are the instrument of action, and to "wash" them may design the performance of good works, Job 9:30; and to do this "in innocency", or "purity", may signify the performance of them from a pure heart, a good conscience, and faith unfeigned; and particularly may have some respect to the lifting up of holy hands in prayer to God, previous to public worship; there seems to be an allusion to the priests washing their hands before they offered sacrifice, Exodus 30:19;

so will I compass thine altar, O Lord; frequent the house of God, where the altar was, and constantly attend the worship and ordinances of God; the work of the altar being put for the whole of divine service; the altar of burnt offering is here meant, which was a type of Christ; see Hebrews 13:10; reference is had to the priests at the altar, who used to go round it, when they laid the sacrifice on the altar, and bound it to the horns of it, at the four corners, and there sprinkled and poured out the blood; compare Psalm 43:4; in order to which they washed their hands, as before; and in later times it was usual with the Heathens (y) to wash their hands before divine service.

(y) "----pura cum veste venito, et manibus puris sumite fontis aquam, nunc lavabo ut rem divinam faciam", Tibull. l. 2. eleg. 1. Plantus in Aullular. Acts 3. Sc. 6. Vide Homer. Odyss, 12. v. 336, 337.

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