The Word Made Fresh
1Support me, LORD!
I have lived with integrity and have trusted you without question.
2Test me, LORD, and try me.
Examine my heart and mind.
3I see the evidence of your unwavering love,
and I faithfully follow your guidance.
4I don’t hang around worthless people,
or associate with people who are pretentious.
5I recoil from evildoers,
and refuse to associate with the wicked.
6I wash my hands knowing I have done no wrong,
and approach your altar, LORD,
7singing a song of thanksgiving out loud,
telling about the good things you have done.
8I love your dwelling place, LORD,
the place where your majesty abides.
9Please don’t send me away with wrongdoers.
Don’t put me in the grip of bloodthirsty people
10who hold wickedness in their hands
and bribe others to do terrible things.
11I will strive to maintain my integrity.
I ask that you redeem me and be gracious to me.
12I am standing on level ground
and I will praise the LORD in the great assembly.
Superscription: this psalm is the 23rd attributed to David.
1-3: The psalmist asks God to test him and validate his claim to have lived an upright life, leaning on God’s steadfast love.
4-7: He does not associate with evil people, and symbolically (or perhaps actually) washes his hands of them. The scene is apparently in the temple, because he seems to be speaking while walking around the altar singing a song of thanksgiving and praise.
8-10: We can picture him in the temple, the “LORD’s house,” concerned about people who are untrustworthy. Apparently, he has had some kind of confrontation with that sort and feels the need to spiritually cleanse himself from exposure to them.
11-12: The psalm ends with his insistence of his own innocence. He asks God to redeem him, which makes us wonder if he has somehow been involved with people who turned out to be not the best sort.
The psalmist expresses the kind of sentiment that in our modern western culture might be considered a bit egotistical. He lists all of his good qualities as if trying to demonstrate that he is worthy of God’s approval. In the ancient oriental culture of Israel, though, it is a common theme. Although we might feel uncomfortable telling God all our good qualities, it still may be a good exercise to take stock of our character before we simply assume God is going to shower us with protection and blessings.