New European Commentary


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Deeper Commentary

Psa 101:1

A Psalm by David-
This Psalm appears to be David's expression of faith that he would one day be king. And he promises to reign in a Godly manner. It could also have been his Psalm for his ascendancy to the throne; or perhaps it was first written after Samuel anointed him.

I will sing of grace and justice. To You, Yahweh, I will sing praises-
"Mercy and truth" ("grace and justice") were to be the basis of David's throne because that is what upheld God's throne. And David was to reign on God's behalf, his throne was to be as God's throne (Is. 16:5; Ps. 89:14; 101:1). Solomon liked to imagine that his throne was likewise upheld by God as His throne, also on the basis of "mercy and truth" ("grace and justice"). But he assumed that would happen automatically, whereas David's response to this is given in Ps. 101- he vows that he will personally reign in "grace and justice", whereas Solomon assumes that God will provide the "grace and justice" ("mercy and truth") as it were automatically (Prov. 20:28).

Psa 101:2

I will be careful to live a blameless life. When will You come to me? I will walk within my house with a blameless heart-
David's heart was not consistently of integrity, as we see in the matter of Bathsheba and Uriah; it was only by grace that David was counted like this (s.w. 1 Kings 9:4). It was indeed whilst walking within his own house that he revealed the lustful state of his heart. We query whether David was right to promise to "live a blameless life", especially since he recognizes that "a blameless life" reflects "a blameless heart". How we think in our hearts is how we live. He is clearly over confident of his own self control and righteousness. The question "When will You come to me?" is likely his request that the promise of his kingship be fulfilled soon. 

Psa 101:3

I will set no vile thing before my eyes; I hate the deeds of faithless men. They will not cling to me-
The "vile thing" in view was likely idolatry; "faithless men", AV "them that turn aside", were those who left Yahweh for idolatry. He probably has in view Saul and his men. But David walked within his house later and looked lustfully with his eyes at Bathsheba (:2). This was his idolatry. "Not cling to me" is a quote from the law's prohibition of idolatry (Dt. 13:17).

Psa 101:4

A perverse heart will be far from me. I will have nothing to do with evil-
We could understand this as AV, referring to men of perverse heart and evil doers, who David says he will put far away from his court and kingdom. He correctly understands that evil action reflects wrong thinking in the heart. But again we pause to consider that David appears over confident in his ability to judge the hearts of men, just as he was over confident in pledging that he would have a "blameless heart" himself (:2). He was to learn that he, a man after God's own heart, could still commit lust and adultery in his heart and be led thereby into the actual sin. Things were far from as black and white as he imagined in his youth.

Psa 101:5

I will silence whoever secretly slanders his neighbour. I won’t tolerate one who is haughty and conceited-
David took a strong view against slander- having suffered so much of it himself. He vowed to put to death, i.e. to set up the death sentence, for anyone caught privately slandering or backbiting against a neighbour (Ps. 101:5 Heb.). That’s how bad are backbiting and slander, however quietly (“privily”, the AV quaintly says) they’re done. And of course the Lord shared this understanding, by teaching that hatred of our brother is in fact the kind of murder which carried the death penalty in Old Testament times.

The Chaldee and some LXX versions have "He who speaks with the triple tongue against his neighbour". The triple reference would be to the slanderer himself, the man slandered, and the person to whom the slander is told. All three are damaged by the "triple tongue"; and we see this has timeless relevance and truth.

Psa 101:6

My eyes will be on the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me. He who walks in a perfect way, he will serve me-
We wonder at David's possible arrogance in assuming that he (:2) or any man can walk blamelessly; and that he could judge men that well, that he would only allow the "perfect" into his court and cabinet. Only the Lord Jesus fits this. And yet this is the phrase used in God's command to Abraham and his seed (Gen. 17:1), and it is maybe to this which David alludes. It was only possible for Abraham to do so by his faith in imputed righteousness, by grace through faith. But it's questionable as to whether David at this point realized that; he had to learn it through reflection upon the wonder of how God had counted him righteous after the sin with Bathsheba.

Psa 101:7

He who practices deceit won’t dwell within my house. He who speaks falsehood won’t be established before my eyes-
"Speaks falsehood" reflects again David's deep sense of injustice (see on Ps. 35:7). He uses the word for "false witness", as if they were breaking one of the ten commandments; and he uses it often, heaping condemnation upon any who dare lie / bear false witness about him (Ps. 38:19; 52:3; 63:11; 101:7; 119:29,69,86,118; 120:2; 144:8,11).

And yet David lied and deceived in order to get Uriah killed so that he could take his wife for himself. Surely reflection upon that sin made him realize that his zeal to condemn dishonesty was at best misplaced; to lament it is one thing, but David was to be taught that he had himself done the very thing he so condemned. David plotted the destruction of Uriah by his false words; and when he repented of this in Ps. 32:2, he says that lack of deceit / guile (s.w.) is only possible through imputed righteousness. David's intolerance of "deceitful" persons (Ps. 52:2; 101:7; 120:3) must be compared with the fact that he himself was only counted as not deceitful by grace; for he was very deceitful regarding Uriah.

Psa 101:8

Morning by morning, I will destroy all the wicked of the land; to cut off all the workers of iniquity from Yahweh’s city-
This sounds like David promising a total purge of "the wicked" from the and royal city. There is no evidence David actually did this; he surely realized it was too hard in practice to judge who was "wicked", perceiving that bad men do what good men dream of, and all human motivation is so mixed.