At first glance the word "vindicate" suggests a desire to be shown to be right over against other people. But as I read this psalm I sense that it is not David's reputation in the eyes of other people that concerns him but rather God's vindication of the rightness of a devout and moral life. In other words, it is not his own reputation but God's reputation that he covets. He has been trying to obey God. He is surrounded by many who think that he is foolish, just as we are surrounded by similar mockers of righteousness today. What he is asking is that God will show by the quality and steadiness of his life that a moral life is always best—for the sake of God's own honor and for the good of those who may be looking on.

There are two phrases in the English translation of Psalm 26 that I would like to place together, except that they occur in different translations. The first phrase is from the New International Version and is the one from which I derived the title for this study. It is from verse 12, "on level ground." The other is from verse 1 of the King James Version: "therefore I shall not slide." I would like to put them together, because they unify the psalm, teaching that the one who trusts God will have a level foundation on which to build a life while the one who does not trust God is on slippery terrain.

There is one more thing that we need to see about this psalm, however. It presents a problem; it suggests a solution; it expresses confidence that God will provide the solution needed. But, finally, it also shows the attitude of heart that will enable the psalmist to receive the anticipated blessing. It has several parts.

Here are the things David has learned about God as he has studied the revelation God has given: 1) God is faithful, because "no one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame" (v. 3); 2) God is characterized by truth, because his paths are paths of truth (vv. 4, 5); 3) God is his Savior (v. 5); 4) God is merciful and loving and has been “from of old” (v. 6); 5) God is good and upright (v. 8); 6) Again, God is loving and faithful in all his ways (v. 10); 7) God is forgiving (v. 11); 8) God is open with his people and freely confides in them (v. 14); 9) God is gracious (v. 16); and 10) God is powerful to rescue his people; therefore he is one in whom they can take refuge (vv. 15, 20).

David knows that is not going to happen, however, because, as I have been saying, this is not a psalm of anguish but a psalm of mature trust in God and instruction for others. From the beginning David's assertion is that he will not be put to shame ("no one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame,” verse 3) and that this will happen to his treacherous enemies instead.