Psalm 101

Psalms 101 Devotional
by Pastor Mark Hudson

Kidner prefers this outline

1-4       Truth in the ruler

5-8       Truth in the ranks

But the Hebrew Bible (BHS and BHK) prefers 1-5, 6-8.  Some see this Psalm as a complaint keying off the question in verse 2, “Oh when you come to me?”  The setting for this Psalms seems to be related to a king who is setting the agenda for his reign.  This is the only Psalm in Book 4 that is attributed to David. These are all great aspirational concepts.  If you are not a Bible reader, you may think that most of the characters in the Bible are good examples.  Sadly there are few examples of great character and holiness in the Bible.  However, there is still a desire from these men and women to be holy and to live in a way that pleases God.

Just a quick word on the superscription or heading: A Psalm of David.  The original is much shorter.  The letter resembling our L is placed before the three letter word David in Hebrew.  It could mean for David, by David, corresponding to David, edited by David, etc.  This psalm does seem to relate to David as the King of Israel.  He begins by expressing his Godward direction of his own life.  David’s entire life is “to you, O Lord.”  David recognizes that God is the basis of covenant faithfulness (hesed) and justice.  Justice must be a priority for any king of Israel.  The justice that the king maintains mirrors God’s justice.  Justice is never apart from God nor is justice only man-centered apart from a Divine perspective.

Verse 2 is rather perplexing.  David is actively pondering the way that is blameless.  Then he cries out for God.  Some think David is crying out for the ark of the covenant which is symbolic of God’s presence.  He then commits to “walk with integrity of heart within my house” in v. 2.  Yet, as we read in the Bible, it was within David’s house we find such turmoil.  His own son, Absalom rebels against him.  His daughter Tamar is raped by her brother Amnon.  Then Absalom murders Amnon (II Sam 13).  Absalom rapes David’s concubines in broad daylight (II Sam 16:20ff), dies in battle (or fleeing from the battle) in II Sam18.  His greatest pain, rejection, and rebellion came from within his own house.

Verse 3 is a great challenge for us.  “I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless.”  We are constantly looking at screens.  They show many worthless images from their LED screens.  We need to remember this verse.  David does not tolerate evil.  Read this phrase, “I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me.”  Don’t read this as David being judgmental; read this as David striving toward holiness and resisting sinfulness.  David cautions us not to linger around sin but to utterly reject it.

Verse four follows this same theme.  We cannot cover up a perverse heart by attending church or trying to be nice.  We must reject perversion in our heart and be ignorant of evil.  It is sad that we know so much about evil.  It would be better for our souls if we were ignorant of evil.  This revulsion of evil is the flip side of holiness.  One can’t strive to be holy and also accept evil.

We need to be cautioned that we do not destroy those who slander or we would be violent to everyone – including ourselves.  But imagine a king forming a cabinet.  He does not bring those who are good in finance but scoundrels to work closely with him.  So, we know we are to be kind to unbelievers but we ought not form partnership with the ungodly ( II Corin 6:14).

If you read v. 6 as coming from a king, one would imagine laws that favor godliness, honesty, truthfulness.  This king would promote honesty and all the qualities that accompany a God-fearing life.  If the king looks with favor upon those type of people, that is the kind of people that flourish and are nurtured.  The reverse of v. 6 is verse 7.  Or we may conclude that verse 7 logically follows verse 6.

Finally in verse 8 we see the king’s determination to uphold true godliness by destroying the wicked.  This would not be a prayer that a New Testament believer would pray literally.  But, as we vote, worship, work, volunteer, we promote a worldview that will always clash with the world.  We promote a lifestyle that honors God which will anger unbelievers.  While we are not told to war against the Amalekites, we told that that friendship with the world is enmity with God (James 4:4).

Yet, as clear, straightforward, and bold as these aspirations are, David fell far short of living up to these ideals.  Sadly, he failed in the same way that most politicians fail.  David’s failings are well known.  But what about you and me?  If you had to grade yourself, do you set worthless things before your eyes?  Do you envy those who are  ungodly?  Do you rail against slander but slander others?  Slander is making false and damaging statements about someone?  What if people heard what you said about them?  Do you find you despise arrogance in others because you struggle with that same sin?  Do you find you keep your distance from people that are godly (v. 6) or find a commonality with those practicing deceit and lying (v. 7)?  Do you have one foot firmly planted with those who do not know God and one foot with the church and her people?

Father, I need to show steadfast determination to root out the sin in my life.  My friends, my screen viewing do not help me at times.  But the real culprit is my own heart.  Save me from myself.  Save me for You.  As I struggle against sin, open my eyes so I  will strive for the freedom of holiness. Thank you that one Person lived the life David wrote about.  He is my Savior and the treasure of my life.  In His perfect name.  Amen.