Psalms 101:1 « A Psalm of David. » I will sing of mercy and judgment: unto thee, O LORD, will I sing.
A Psalm of David] Wherein he promiseth and pre-engageth, that whenever he came to the kingdom he will be a singular example, both as a prince and as a master of a family; in which respect this psalm should be often read and ruminated by such, that their houses may be as the house of David, Zechariah 12:8, and as the palace of George, prince of Anbalt, which was, saith Melancthon, Ecclesia, Academia, Curia, a church, an academy, and a court. Bishop Ridley read and expounded this psalm oftentimes to his household, hiring them with money to learn it and other select scriptures by heart. A good governor is like that nobleman who had for his impress two bundles of ripe millet bound together, with this motto, Servare et Servari meum est; for the nature of the millet is both to guard itself from all corruption and also those things that lie near it. That is a rare commendation that is given the late reverend and religious Dr Chatterton, that he was a housekeeper three and fifty years, and yet in all that time he never kept any of his servants from church to prepare his meal, saying, That he desired as much to have his servants know God as himself (His Life by Mr Clark).
Ver. 1. I will sing of mercy and judgment] David’s ditty was composed of discords. Mercy and justice are the brightest stars in the sphere of majesty; the main supports of a throne royal; howbeit there should be a pre-eminence to mercy, as one well observeth from Micah 6:8. Mercy must be loved, and not shown only; justice must be done, and no more. The sword of justice must be bathed in the oil of mercy; a well-tempered mixture of both preserveth the commonwealth, Romans 13:3-4.
Unto thee, O Lord, will I sing] Acknowledge thee alone, the bestower of these graces, and thy glory as the end. These are matters that philosophers and politicians mind not.
Psalms 101:2 I will behave myself wisely in a perfect way. O when wilt thou come unto me? I will walk within my house with a perfect heart.
Ver. 2. I will behave myself wisely] I will begin the intended reformation at myself, and then set things to rights in my family, which while Augustus did not he was worthily blamed by his subjects, and told, that public persons must carefully observe,
Aedibus in propriis quae recta aut prava gerantur (Plut.).
Cato said, that he could pardon all men’s faults but his own. But Cato the wise wanted the wisdom from above, and was therefore short of David, who promiseth here to be merry, "I will sing," and yet wise, "I will behave myself wisely in a perfect way"; that is, in an upright conversation, and in a faithful discharge of the great trust committed unto me.
Oh when wilt thou come unto me?] In the performance of thy promise concerning the kingdom? For I am resolved not to antevert thee, but to wait thy coming; Est suspirium pii animi ex abrapto, like that of Jacob, "I have waited, O Lord, for thy salvation," Genesis 49:18. Or, When wilt thou come, viz. to reckon with me? For come thou wilt.
I will walk within my house with a perfect heart] And "although my house be not so with God," yet "this is all my desire" (and shall be mine endeavour), "although he make it not to grow," 2 Samuel 23:5. I will walk incessantly, Indefinenter ambulabo (Kimchi), walk in the midst of mine house, sicut cogitabundus et intentus ambulat huc et illuc, 2 Kings 4:34, and this I will do in the uprightness of mine heart; for that a man is in truth, that he is at home. Follow hypocrites home to their houses, and there you shall see what they are. Look upon stage players, and you may see them act the parts of kings and honest men, but follow them to their own houses, and there they are but base servants.
Psalms 101:3 I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; [it] shall not cleave to me.
Ver. 3. I will set no wicked thing (Heb. thing of Belial) before mine eyes] That is, in my thoughts, saith Kimchi; for the thinking faculty is in the forepart of the brain, as are also the eyes. I will not gaze upon forbidden objects, nor venture upon a temptation to or an occasion of sin. I will also be wise and wary in the choice of my servants and under officers. Theodosius’s court was virtutum officina, non vitiorum sentina, saith Pareus. And Archbishop Cranmer’s house was schola vel palaestra pietatis et literarum, saith Tremellius. See above on the title of this psalm.
I hate the work of them that turn aside] Of treacherous men and apostates; such as Constantius Chlorus, the father of Constantine the Great found (by proof made) some of his counsellors and courtiers to be, and therefore turned them off, saying, He cannot be faithful to me who is unfaithful to God; Pietate sublata fides tollitur (Euseb.).
It shall not cleave to me] I will none of them, neither shall any such wickedness hang at my heels, to hinder my progress in piety and good government.
Psalms 101:4 A froward heart shall depart from me: I will not know a wicked [person].
Ver. 4. A froward heart shall depart from me] i.e. Say some, I will endeavour to put off the old man with the lusts thereof, Ephesians 4:22, the old crooked frame shall be dissolved, and a better erected. I will not know evil, that is, regard, or allow it, Psalms 1:6. Others understand the text of rotten hearted and wicked counsellors, whom David would abhor and abandon.
Psalms 101:5 Whoso privily slandereth his neighbour, him will I cut off: him that hath an high look and a proud heart will not I suffer.
Ver. 5. Whoso privily slandereth his neighbour] Heb. Him that in secret tongue smiteth his fellow friend, will I suppress. This David purposed to do, but this he did not so thoroughly in the case of poor Mephibosheth, belied by false Ziba; his resolution was maledicos et maleficos a se depellere, to drive away from him sycophants, backbiters, flatterers; but there is a great sympathy between princes and such pests, those harpies and gaping crows of courts, as one calleth them. ( Sorices et tineas palatii appellabat Constant. Mag.). David promiseth fair to purge and eliminate from his house and court of such, and to cut them off, secundum leges regni, according to the laws of the kingdom, as Aben Ezra glosseth.
Him that hath an high look] Pride will sit and show itself in the eyes as soon as anywhere. A man is seen for what he is, in oculis, in poculis, in loculis, say the Rabbis. See Proverbs 6:17.
And a proud heart] Heb. a wide or broad heart, that thinketh great things of himself, and seeketh great things for himself.
I will not suffer] Heb. I will not, sc. away with, or endure at any hand. The Greeks, and after them others, read, I will not eat with them. Legunt ocal pro ucal; and by large of heart, they understand belly gods, men of large appetites, such as were the two sons of Eli, Belialists, and Hellicones.
Psalms 101:6 Mine eyes [shall be] upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me: he that walketh in a perfect way, he shall serve me.
Ver. 6. Mine eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land] i.e. Let them live where they will, I will hearken them out, and find them out. The Rabbis say, that here David repenteth him of taking into his service and tuition those indebted and discontented persons, men of broken fortunes and loose manners, 1 Samuel 22:1-2, and resolveth to be better advised in the choosing and using of his retinue when he cometh to the kingdom, that his court might be like that of Cyrus, whereof Xenophon saith, that though a man should seek or choose blindfold, he could not miss of a good man (Cyrop. l. 8). Zonaros mainly commendeth Valentinian I and Leo Armeuius, emperors, for their good choice of both civil and military officers. He condemneth as much Macrinus for the contrary.
He shall serve me] λειτουργησει μοι, he shall be of honourable employment about me, as Joseph was to Pharaoh, Cromwell to Henry VIII, his vicar-general.
Psalms 101:7 He that worketh deceit shall not dwell within my house: he that telleth lies shall not tarry in my sight.
Ver. 7. He that worketh deceit shall not dwell in my house] If I may know him to be such a one, I shall soon cashier him, and serve him as Philip of Macedon afterwards did two of his evil servants; the one whereof he compelled to run out of his country, and the other to drive him. David was not guarded and surrounded, as many princes are today, Magno agmine Aionum, Negonum, Ganeonum, Palponum, Gnathonum, Balatronum.
He that telleth lies shall not tarry in my sight] Liars are frequent in courts, as in Saul’s, and do much mischief. The good Emperor Aurelius was much abused by them. Lewis XI of France complained that he had plenty of all things but of only one; and being asked of what? Of truth, quoth he. Augustus took on exceedingly when Varus was slain in battle, and gave this for a reason, Quod non esset a quo verum audiret, because he had not now a friend from whom he could hear the truth of things.
Psalms 101:8 I will early destroy all the wicked of the land; that I may cut off all wicked doers from the city of the LORD.
Ver. 8. I will early destroy all the wicked of the land] All, without partiality, and betimes, in matutinis, without delay, making it my morning’s work to do justice; for then was judgment executed, Jeremiah 21:12. Or, I will do it daily, and as duly as the house is swept. See Lamentations 3:23, Indesinenter regnum, regiam Ecclesiamque purgabo a male (Trem.).
That I may cut off all wicked doers from the city of God] All the notorious debuchers from the Church; that I may weed out those wicked ones, those trouble towns, those desperadoes, the botches of human society. And here David describeth the utmost and chief end of civil government (that which the philosophers never dreamed of), viz. That God may be purely and sincerely served in his city, that is, in his Church.
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Psalms 101". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany