David is asking the Lord to vindicate him because of his integrity, and he recounts the ways in which he does right before God. He praises the house of God, the place His glory dwells, and asks God to redeem him and be gracious to him so that he can righteously bless the Lord.
David—the Psalmist, the Lord, men of falsehood, hypocrites, evildoers, the wicked, God’s glory, sinners, bloodthirsty men, the great assembly
Verses 6-7 “I wash my hands in innocence and go around your altar, O Lord, proclaiming thanksgiving loud, and telling all your wondrous deeds.”
Psalm 73:13-18 “All in vain have I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence. For all the day long I have been stricken and rebuked every morning. If I had said, “I will speak thus,” I would have betrayed the generation of your children. But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end. Truly you set them in slippery places; you make them fall to ruin.”
Exodus 30:17-21 “The Lord said to Moses, “You shall also make a basin of bronze, with its stand of bronze, for washing. You shall put it between the tent of meeting and the altar, and you shall put water in it, with which Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet. When they go into the tent of meeting, or when they come near the altar to minister, to burn a food offering to the Lord, they shall wash with water, so that they may not die. They shall wash their hands and their feet, so that they may not die. It shall be a statute forever to them, even to him and to his offspring throughout their generations.””
Deuteronomy 21:6 “And all the elders of that city nearest to the slain man shall wash their hands over the heifer whose neck was broken in the valley, and they shall testify, ‘Our hands did not shed blood, nor did our eyes see it shed. Accept atonement, O Lord, for your people Israel, whom you have redeemed, and do not set the guilt of innocent blood in the midst of your people Israel, so that their blood guilt be atoned for.’ So you shall purge the guilt of innocent blood from your midst, when you do what is right in the sight of the Lord.”
Psalm 9:1 “I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.”
There is so much to dig into in these cross references. In our Psalm, David is washing his hands to approach the altar of God to praise him. This is much how we are often taught pray, we ask for forgiveness, or thank God for his forgiveness and praise Him.
In Psalm 73, the Psalmist, Asaph, is expressing his struggle with seeing people around him getting away with sin. He begins to feel that his ceremonial washing, and his innocence are worthless, and that he is being punished for being good. Sometimes we feel this same way. Then, as he goes to God, God gives him sight to see that in reality the evil are on slippery ground. Their houses are built on sand (Matthew 7:24-27). They are walking the road to destruction (Matthew 7:13-14).
Matthew 7:24-27 “Everyone then who hers these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mind and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
Matthew 7:13-14 “”Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”
The Exodus text is describing this washing, which is a symbol of the need to recognize we are sinners every time we come to God. We are not clean, and we must have God to clean us. Now that God lives inside us, we should recognize this all the time and come to God as often as possible, to obtain a right heart, to be cleaned, to see God’s work around us, and to find life.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”
Washing our hands and seeking God’s redeeming love are throughout Scripture, and yet, merely washing our hands with water does not clear us of our guilt. As the Deuteronomy text shares, blood must be spilt as well. We are washed in the blood of Jesus, and so we are redeemed entirely. This also reminds me of Pilate washing his hands and saying Jesus’ blood is not on his hands. However, Pilate’s wife’s dream is clearly God speaking to him about his role in this (Matthew 27:19). We cannot merely wash our hands and be done with something, we must turn to God with repentance, not pride as Pilate does. Pilate seems to believe that the ceremony is what cleans the conscience, but it is the repentance that comes with it (Matthew 27:24-26).
Matthew 27:19, 24-26 “Besides, while he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, “Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered much because of him today in a dream.”… So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.” And all the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!” Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified.”
Jesus in the Psalm
Continuing our big Christianese words is “Vindication”. My commentary describes this saying, “David pleads to be vindicated or distinguished from “hypocrites” and “evildoers” (Ps. 26:1, 4-5). Far from boasting, David’s pronouncements are implicit prayers for help in his pursuit of holiness.”*
“David knows he needs redemption and grace (v. 11b). Because of this grace, whatever happens, David stands on level ground (v. 12). The ultimate way in which God secured this redemption and grace was in the sending of his own Son, to whom God was not gracious, so that grace could be extended to sinners such as David—and us.”*
Tomorrow: Psalm 27
*Note: I am using the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible for the Jesus in the Psalm section, so these are paraphrases and quotes from the commentary with my own ideas sprinkled in.
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