A psalm pleading vindication
"A Psalm of David. Vindicate me, O LORD, for I have walked in my integrity. I have also trusted in the LORD; I shall not slip. Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; try my mind and my heart. For Your lovingkindness is before my eyes, and I have walked in Your truth. I have not sat with idolatrous mortals, nor will I go in with hypocrites. I have hated the assembly of evildoers, and will not sit with the wicked." (verses 1-5)
David begins this psalm with a clear intent and purpose. He has been maligned and wants God to vindicate him. In these first five verses, David lists both the good he has done and the evil he has not, all the while calling upon God to bear witness and affirm his innocence. David has "walked in integrity", meaning that he has been as honest behind closed doors as he is publicly. There is no hypocrisy in his life. He has "trusted in the LORD," meaning that he has placed his faith in no idol, man, or method, but in God alone. David declares that he has "walked in truth," again reiterating that he lives his life above reproach.
He does not embrace nor tell lies. He is honest before God and man. He has not "sat with idolatrous mortals," or in other words, he does not keep company with those who do not worship the one true God of Israel. To "go in with hypocrites" means that he does not have dealings with people whose lives don't match their words, people who claim to worship God but do evil things. David has no taste for those who conspire together for evil and has not been involved with them, nor ever will.
Throughout, David appeals to God to affirm his words: "vindicate me", "examine me", "prove me", "try my mind and my heart," and even voices his own confidence in his integrity: "I shall not slip."
David is not declaring his perfect sinlessness, but rather his innocence in regards to the specific accusations raised against him.
"I will wash my hands in innocence; so I will go about Your altar, O LORD, that I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all Your wondrous works. LORD, I have loved the habitation of Your house, and the place where Your glory dwells. " (verses 6-8)
The phrase "wash my hands in innocence" is used elsewhere in scripture and references the ceremonial washing of hands done in connection with offerings and sacrifices. Asaph wrote, "Surely I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocence." (Psalm 73:13) We also read of Pontius Pilate washing his hands of the injustice done to Jesus. David is saying that he will publicly "wash his hands" of those sins which he is accused of, those things of which he is innocent. He will then go before God with sacrifice and praise, bespeaking a pure conscience before God and man.
David was known for his love of the house of God, the tabernacle, and would have lived there had he been allowed. He loved His merciful and righteous God, and would have no sin, nor unjust accusation of sin, come between him and His God.
We can come before God in the same innocence if we have trusted in Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, for if we have, then we are clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Himself. There is no spot or blemish in us, if we are in Christ! The author of Hebrews tells us, "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4:16) We are welcome before the very throne of God, the place where His glory dwells. Praise God!
"Do not gather my soul with sinners, nor my life with bloodthirsty men, in whose hands is a sinister scheme, and whose right hand is full of bribes. But as for me, I will walk in my integrity; redeem me and be merciful to me. My foot stands in an even place; in the congregations I will bless the LORD." (verses 9-12)
Here we have a clue as to the nature of slander that David is dealing with. It seems that some have accused him of conspiring together with murderers through bribery. David vehemently denies such as a lie. He insists on his integrity before God, and pleads with God not to condemn him unjustly through His silence in this matter. He cries for redemption and mercy. Resting in the confidence that God will not abandon him to these lies, David confidently says, "My foot stands in an even place." Earlier David declared that because of his trust in the LORD, his foot would not slip. The idea of both being that he was in a good position; he would not fall nor be condemned. As Paul wrote in Romans 8:31, "If God be for us, who can be against us?"
David concludes with the assurance that he would indeed bless the Lord in the congregation at the tabernacle in the future. His name would be cleared, his accusers silenced, and his public worship restored. David's psalms are wonderful in that no matter how low he is all through it, he always ends in hope. Hope is the remedy for despair. If we hope in God, as David, our hope is sure.