NAFSHI

A Unique Online Torah Learning Resource

Mizmor 026 - A Personal Review

(א) לְדָוִד שָׁפְטֵנִי ה' כִּי אֲנִי בְּתֻמִּי הָלַכְתִּי וּבַה' בָּטַחְתִּי לֹא אֶמְעָד:
(1) By David. Judge me, Hashem for I walked in my own innocence. I trusted in Hashem, [that] I would not stumble.
NOTE: For a PDF of this mizmor, please click here. This will enable you to print out the entire text of the article. [Rev 5]
Key Concepts of Mizmor 026 - A Personal Review
In this mizmor David takes us along on a voyage of self-examination as he defends himself against those who have accused him of being unworthy. He then asks for Hashem’s help in rising to an even higher moral and spiritual level. He concludes by asking for Hashem’s future protection so that he will be able to publicly thank Him and praise Him.
Exploring the Mizmor
PART 1. SELF-EXAMINATION. David begins his review by asking Hashem to judge him kindly since his intentions have always been good. In fact, Hashem has protected him from stumbling in the past. But David realizes that there is still room for improvement. So he asks Hashem to help him analyze his behavior. Has he always been honest with himself? Has he avoided the company of people who might weaken his moral determination?
(א) לְדָוִד שָׁפְטֵנִי ה' כִּי אֲנִי בְּתֻמִּי הָלַכְתִּי וּבַה' בָּטַחְתִּי לֹא אֶמְעָד: (ב) בְּחָנֵנִי ה' וְנַסֵּנִי צָרְפָה כִלְיוֹתַי וְלִבִּי: (ג) כִּי חַסְדְּךָ לְנֶגֶד עֵינָי וְהִתְהַלַּכְתִּי בַּאֲמִתֶּךָ: (ד) לֹא יָשַׁבְתִּי עִם מְתֵי שָׁוְא וְעִם נַעֲלָמִים לֹא אָבוֹא: (ה) שָׂנֵאתִי קְהַל מְרֵעִים וְעִם רְשָׁעִים לֹא אֵשֵׁב:
(1) By David. Judge me, Hashem for I walked in my own innocence. I trusted in Hashem, [that] I would not stumble. (2) Examine me, Hashem. Test me; purify my conscience and my heart. (3) For Your kindness is before my eyes. I have walked in Your truth. (4) I have not sat down with idlers; I did not come into the company of hypocrites. (5) I hated a community of evildoers; I did not sit with the wicked.
PART 2. FUTURE SELF-DEVELOPMENT. David declares his intent to grow further by doing teshuvah and seeking the company of people who would have a positive influence on him. He asks for Hashem’s help in this.
(ו) אֶרְחַץ בְּנִקָּיוֹן כַּפָּי וַאֲסֹבְבָה אֶת מִזְבַּחֲךָ ה': (ז) לַשְׁמִעַ בְּקוֹל תּוֹדָה וּלְסַפֵּר כָּל נִפְלְאוֹתֶיךָ: (ח) ה' אָהַבְתִּי מְעוֹן בֵּיתֶךָ וּמְקוֹם מִשְׁכַּן כְּבוֹדֶךָ: (ט) אַל תֶּאֱסֹף עִם חַטָּאִים נַפְשִׁי וְעִם אַנְשֵׁי דָמִים חַיָּי: (י) אֲשֶׁר בִּידֵיהֶם זִמָּה וִימִינָם מָלְאָה שֹּׁחַד:
(6) I will wash my hands with purity; I will circle around Your altar, Hashem, (7) to proclaim aloud gratitude and to tell of all Your wonders. (8) Hashem, I love the shelter of Your House and the dwelling place of Your glory. (9) Do not gather up my soul along with sinners, my life with men driven by money (10) in whose hands there is selfish scheming. Their right hand is filled with bribery.
PART 3. CONCLUSION. Finally David asks for Hashem’s future protection so that he will be able to publicly thank Him and praise Him.
(יא) וַאֲנִי בְּתֻמִּי אֵלֵךְ פְּדֵנִי וְחָנֵּנִי: (יב) רַגְלִי עָמְדָה בְמִישׁוֹר בְּמַקְהֵלִים אֲבָרֵךְ ה':
(11) As for me, I will walk in my innocence. Redeem me and favor me. (12) My foot has stood firmly on the straight path. I will bless Hashem in public assemblies.
Additional Thoughts
Mizmor 026 begins with David asking Hashem to judge him (“Judge me”), but David is really judging himself and asking Hashem to help him do it. The mizmor is an exercise in personal growth. As David points out, the key to growth is being honest with oneself.
Navigating Tehillim. At the close of the previous perek David was counting on his innocence and good intentions to protect him (“Let [my] innocence and uprightness protect me”). And so David begins the new mizmor with a claim of innocence (“for I walked in my own innocence”), but he then proceeds to ask Hashem to help him determine if he is really being honest with himself. He concludes that there is room for growth in his avodas Hashem and he looks to achieve this by frequenting the company of righteous people in Hashem’s holy place.
Learning the Mizmor
PART 1. SELF-EXAMINATION.
(א) לְדָוִד 
שָׁפְטֵנִי ה' כִּי אֲנִי בְּתֻמִּי הָלַכְתִּי 
וּבַה' בָּטַחְתִּי לֹא אֶמְעָד:
This is a mizmor composed by David — לְדָוִד . Despite the accusations of my enemies, I call upon You to judge me, Hashem — שָׁפְטֵנִי ה' . I ask this for I have walked in my innocence — כִּי אֲנִי בְּתֻמִּי הָלַכְתִּי . You know that my motives have been honorable. In fact, I never consciously sought to gain personal advantage. Instead, I sincerely trusted in Your protection, Hashem — וּבַה' בָּטַחְתִּי , confident that with Your help I would not stumble — לֹא אֶמְעָד .
(ב) בְּחָנֵנִי ה' וְנַסֵּנִי 
צָרְפָה כִלְיוֹתַי וְלִבִּי:
But I know I am not perfect and despite my good intentions I may have failed You in the past. And so I humbly ask that You examine me, Hashem — בְּחָנֵנִי ה'  in order that I can understand my errors. Test me — וְנַסֵּנִי  to see if by withstanding new challenges I am capable of further growth. Help me purify my conscience and my heart — צָרְפָה כִלְיוֹתַי וְלִבִּי  to serve You better.
(ג) כִּי חַסְדְּךָ לְנֶגֶד עֵינָי 
וְהִתְהַלַּכְתִּי בַּאֲמִתֶּךָ:
I cannot rest with my present level of moral development for Your kindness is before my eyes — כִּי חַסְדְּךָ לְנֶגֶד עֵינָי , and I realize that I owe You so much more than I can ever repay. I would be fooling myself if I thought that I had done enough. I have walked in Your truth — וְהִתְהַלַּכְתִּי בַּאֲמִתֶּךָ  and I must continue to be honest with myself.
(ד) לֹא יָשַׁבְתִּי עִם מְתֵי שָׁוְא 
וְעִם נַעֲלָמִים לֹא אָבוֹא:
I have always taken care not to associate with people who might discourage me from being serious about avodas Hashem. Even though it is not possible to avoid coming into contact with such people, I have not sat down with idlers — לֹא יָשַׁבְתִּי עִם מְתֵי שָׁוְא , who make fun of anything earnest. also did not come into the company of hypocrites — וְעִם נַעֲלָמִים לֹא אָבוֹא , whose apparent righteousness is only a pretense.
(ה) שָׂנֵאתִי קְהַל מְרֵעִים 
וְעִם רְשָׁעִים לֹא אֵשֵׁב:
I hated any community of evildoers — שָׂנֵאתִי קְהַל מְרֵעִים  and I vigorously stayed away from them. I knew that the convictions of an individual can be easily swayed by exposure to a large group of like-minded people. Even when they gave me an honored seat at their table, I did not sit with the wicked — וְעִם רְשָׁעִים לֹא אֵשֵׁב .
PART 2. FUTURE SELF-DEVELOPMENT.
(ו) אֶרְחַץ בְּנִקָּיוֹן כַּפָּי 
וַאֲסֹבְבָה אֶת מִזְבַּחֲךָ ה':
I know that I must not enter Your house to serve You with hands that are sullied by selfishness. Therefore, before beginning my avodah to You, I will wash my hands, not with water, but with my own purity — אֶרְחַץ בְּנִקָּיוֹן כַּפָּי , that is, with my having cleansed myself through teshuvah. It is only then that I will circle around Your altar, Hashem — וַאֲסֹבְבָה אֶת מִזְבַּחֲךָ ה'  to serve You.
(ז) לַשְׁמִעַ בְּקוֹל תּוֹדָה 
וּלְסַפֵּר כָּל נִפְלְאוֹתֶיךָ:
As I circle the altar I will loudly proclaim my gratitude to You — לַשְׁמִעַ בְּקוֹל תּוֹדָה  for saving me and I will tell others of all Your wonders — וּלְסַפֵּר כָּל נִפְלְאוֹתֶיךָ .
(ח) ה' אָהַבְתִּי מְעוֹן בֵּיתֶךָ 
וּמְקוֹם מִשְׁכַּן כְּבוֹדֶךָ:
Hashem, I love the shelter of Your House — ה' אָהַבְתִּי מְעוֹן בֵּיתֶךָ , where I am in the company of people who encourage me in avodas Hashem, rather than make light of my conscientiousness. I love the dwelling place of Your glory  וּמְקוֹם מִשְׁכַּן כְּבוֹדֶךָ , where I can learn Your Torah and approach You in tefillah. I go there out of a conscious desire to be near You rather than out of habit.
(ט) אַל תֶּאֱסֹף עִם חַטָּאִים נַפְשִׁי 
וְעִם אַנְשֵׁי דָמִים חַיָּי:
Throughout my life I have tried to associate with righteous people. Let me never be put into circumstances where I am forced to associate with wicked people, who will pull me back from the high standards I have worked so hard to acquire. Do not gather up my soul along with sinners — אַל תֶּאֱסֹף עִם חַטָּאִים נַפְשִׁי , nor my life with men driven by money — וְעִם אַנְשֵׁי דָמִים חַיָּי ...
(י) אֲשֶׁר בִּידֵיהֶם זִמָּה 
וִימִינָם מָלְאָה שֹּׁחַד:
... in whose hands there is scheming to gain advantage over others — אֲשֶׁר בִּידֵיהֶם זִמָּה . Their right hand is filled with bribery — וִימִינָם מָלְאָה שֹּׁחַד , using their wealth and power to influence others to do their bidding.
PART 3. CONCLUSION.
(יא) וַאֲנִי בְּתֻמִּי אֵלֵךְ 
פְּדֵנִי וְחָנֵּנִי:
As for me — וַאֲנִי , I am committed to avoiding self-serving thoughts and dishonest practices. I will continue to walk in my conscientious innocence — בְּתֻמִּי אֵלֵךְ , and so I ask You to come to my aid and protect me from unscrupulous people. Grant me Your mercy and redeem me — פְּדֵנִי  from trouble and anxiety. And even if I should be proven unworthy, favor me — וְחָנֵּנִי  with Your kindness.
(יב) רַגְלִי עָמְדָה בְמִישׁוֹר 
בְּמַקְהֵלִים אֲבָרֵךְ ה':
In the past my foot has stood firmly on the straight path of Your Torah — רַגְלִי עָמְדָה בְמִישׁוֹר  and so I count on Your protection not to let me falter in the future. I hope to show my gratitude to You in public assemblies  בְּמַקְהֵלִים  where I will bless Hashem — אֲבָרֵךְ ה'  in joy.
Living the Mizmor
Listed below are some of the lessons that you can draw from this mizmor, as well as some of the thoughts you might have in mind when you say the words of the mizmor as a tefillah asking for your needs, or expressing your devotion to Hashem.
Tefillos for Life - Your Relationship with Hashem.
[26:1] SINCERITY. – שָׁפְטֵנִי ה' כִּי אֲנִי בְּתֻמִּי הָלַכְתִּי – “Judge me, Hashem for I walked in my own innocence.” Prepare yourself to be judged by Hashem. This means that even though your actions are not what they should be, at least you have been sincere with Hashem and honest with yourself about serving Him and doing what is right.
[26:11] – וַאֲנִי בְּתֻמִּי אֵלֵךְ – “As for me, I will walk in my innocence.
[26:2] SELF-EXAMINATION. – בְּחָנֵנִי ה' וְנַסֵּנִי צָרְפָה כִלְיוֹתַי וְלִבִּי – “Examine me, Hashem. Test me; purify my conscience and my heart.” Ask Hashem to help you analyze the sincerity and honesty of your thoughts. Examine yourself to identify any hidden personal agenda that is undermining your eagerness to do the will of Hashem.
[26:3] HASHEM’S KINDNESS. – כִּי חַסְדְּךָ לְנֶגֶד עֵינָי – “For Your kindness is before my eyes.” Think about all the kindnesses that Hashem does for you every day and ask yourself about whether you can improve your efforts at showing gratitude by doing His will.
Lessons for Life - Your Behavior.
[26:4] BAD INFLUENCES. – לֹא יָשַׁבְתִּי עִם מְתֵי שָׁוְא וְעִם נַעֲלָמִים לֹא אָבוֹא – “I have not sat down with idlers; I did not come into the company of hypocrites.” Avoid people who might weaken your resolve to always do what is right.
[26:5] – שָׂנֵאתִי קְהַל מְרֵעִים וְעִם רְשָׁעִים לֹא אֵשֵׁב – “I hated a community of evildoers; I did not sit with the wicked.”
[26:6] TESHUVAH. – אֶרְחַץ בְּנִקָּיוֹן כַּפָּי – “I will wash my hands with purity.” Cleanse yourself through teshuvah so that you will be worthy of serving Hashem.
Tefillos for Life - Your Gratitude.
[26:7] PUBLIC THANKS. – לַשְׁמִעַ בְּקוֹל תּוֹדָה וּלְסַפֵּר כָּל נִפְלְאוֹתֶיךָ – “to proclaim aloud gratitude and to tell of all Your wonders.” Demonstrate the enthusiasm of your gratitude by publicly proclaiming the wonders you have seen and experienced.
[26:12] – בְּמַקְהֵלִים אֲבָרֵךְ ה' – “I will bless Hashem in public assemblies.
Lessons for Life - Your Attitude.
[26:8] LOVE. – ה' אָהַבְתִּי מְעוֹן בֵּיתֶךָ וּמְקוֹם מִשְׁכַּן כְּבוֹדֶךָ – “Hashem, I love the shelter of Your House and the dwelling place of Your glory.” You should feel a sense of love and affection upon entering Hashem’s house, for it is there you will be closer to Him.
Sources
The primary sources used in the interpretation of the verses of this mizmor are listed below.
א - אבן עזרא, רד"ק, המאירי, מצודות, באר אברהם, מלבי"ם, נר לרגלי
ב - מלבי"ם, רשר"ה, נר לרגלי
ג - אבן עזרא, המאירי, מצודות, נר לרגלי
ד - רש"י, רד"ק, המאירי, ספורנו, רשר"ה, באר אברהם,
ה - באר אברהם, רשר"ה
ו - רד"ק, מלבי"ם, רשר"ה
ז - רד"ק, מלבי"ם
ח - אבן עזרא, המאירי, מלבי"ם
ט - אבן עזרא, אבן יחייא, באר אברהם, נר לרגלי
י - רש"י, אבן עזרא, נר לרגלי
יא - אבן עזרא, רד"ק, המאירי, אבן יחייא, נר לרגלי
יב - המאירי, ספורנו