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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 101

Old & New Testament Restoration CommentaryRestoration Commentary

Verses 1-4

Psa 101:1-4


"The Hebrew and all the versions attribute this psalm to David"; and there being nothing in the psalm which is in any manner inconsistent with Davidic authorship, we shall accept this as authentic. Only this and Psalms 103 are by David in all of Book IV. "This psalm gives us the resolutions David formed when he came to the throne; and it is a perfect model according to which a wise prince should regulate his conduct and his government.”

Kidner observed that these noble resolutions to avoid all association with evil men, "Did not spring from pharisaic pride, but from a king’s concern for a clean administration, honest from the top down.”

The psalm naturally falls into two divisions: (1) "The king lays down the rules of his own conduct; and (2) he declares war on the vermin that especially infested Eastern courts.” These divisions are Psalms 101:1-4 and Psalms 101:5-8.

The horde of evil traffickers usually found in Oriental capitals seeking access to the king included all kinds of arrogant self-seekers, deceivers, liars, slanderers and opportunists interested in one thing alone, namely, their own advantage.

The exact time of David’s writing this psalm is not known, but most scholars place it very early in his reign, at a time shortly after he came to the throne. See Psalms 101:2, below.

Psalms 101:1-4


"I will sing of lovingkindness and justice:

Unto thee, O Jehovah, will I sing praises.

I will behave myself wisely in a perfect way:

Oh when wilt thou come unto me?

I will walk within my house with a perfect heart.

I will set no base thing before mine eyes:

I hate the work of them that turn aside;

It shall not cleave unto me.

A perverse heart shall depart from me:

I will know no evil thing."

"Lovingkindness and justice" (Psalms 101:1). The motto of David’s reign would be God’s lovingkindness and justice, principles which the king here resolved to establish in his kingdom. There would be lovingkindness to the widows, the fatherless, the poor and oppressed; and justice would be meted out to evil-doers.

"I will behave myself wisely in a perfect way" (Psalms 101:2). An alternative reading of this is, "I will give heed unto the perfect way." The idea seems to be that David would do his best to live perfectly in God’s sight.

"Oh when wilt thou come unto me?" (Psalms 101:2). Maclaren interpreted this as, "David’s longing to see the Ark of the Covenant brought to Jerusalem."[5] He applied this as an indication of the early date of the psalm in David’s reign. However, we believe a better view of this expression was that of Adam Clarke, "I can neither walk in this perfect way, nor grow wise unto salvation, unless thou come unto me by the grace of thy Spirit; for without thee I can do nothing.”

"I will walk within my house with a perfect heart" (Psalms 101:2). This is the truly revealing test of human character. An interview with any personal counselor will confirm the fact that many men whose public behavior is above reproach exhibit the qualities of a wasp or a tiger in the presence of their own families. Abused and tyrannized wives or children are common social consequences of this.

A Christian man should walk before his own family with the utmost care to treat them with lovingkindness, consideration, understanding, and toleration of their mistakes, loving them, as an apostle said, "even as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up to death for her." Such a person adorns the doctrine of God. "I will set no base thing before mine eyes" (Psalms 101:3). "He will not allow any proposition or purpose that is morally worthless or vile to be brought before him for consideration.”

"I hate the work of them that turn aside" (Psalms 101:3). The "turning aside" here is a reference to sin, "missing the mark." The alternative reading renders it, "I hate the doing of unfaithfulness."

"A perverse heart shall depart from me" (Psalms 101:4). A king especially needed a resolution of this kind, because pride and stubbornness have led to the ruin of many a monarch. A perverse heart is the opposite of a heart that consents to be corrected by the Word of God. David indeed manifested the quality extolled here in his humbly accepting the reproof of Nathan the prophet following his shameful conduct with Bathsheba.

"I will know no evil thing" (Psalms 101:4). The alternative reading is, "I will know no evil person." The resolution is that no evil person, or evil thing, shall be accepted and tolerated as an adviser, an associate, or a deputy authority under him.

E.M. Zerr:

Psalms 101:1. Judgment is used here in its fundamental sense of justice. The word means a decree or verdict that is according to the facts in the case, and whether the sentence is supposed to be favorable or not. But in such cases where the strict justice would require an unfavorable sentence, the mercy of God would modify it. That is why the Psalmist would sing of both. For the blended attributes of God the song of praise was to be offered as an expression of sincere gratitude.

Psalms 101:2. The preceding verses showed that God tempers justice with mercy. However, there must be some indications of worthiness before the mercy will be extended. The Psalmist recognized that principle and promised to behave himself accordingly, which would constitute a perfect way. On the Condition of his devotion David appealed to God for divine assistance and direction in the chosen course.

Psalms 101:3. The promise of this verse refers especially to the sin of idolatry. David hated that evil and pledged himself not to place any idol before him as an object to be worshiped or adored in any sense.

Psalms 101:4. Froward means perverse or stubborn and David declared he would not have such a heart. He also determined not to know or recognize a wicked person.

Verses 5-8

Psa 101:5-8

Psalms 101:5-8


"Whoso privily slandereth his neighbor, him will I destroy:

Him that hath a high look and a proud heart will I not suffer.

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 minister unto me.

He that worketh deceit shall not dwell within my house: He that speaketh falsehood shall not be established before mine eyes.

Morning by morning will I destroy all the wicked of the land;

To cut off all the workers of iniquity from the city of Jehovah."

No king ever entered upon his reign with any better intentions than those which were evidently of David when he penned this psalm. It should also be noted that, "In the earlier years of David’s reign, his life is well known to have been irreproachable; during that period, he practiced what he preached.”

"Whoso privily slandereth his neighbor" (Psalms 101:5). "This may refer to a person hailed into court because he had falsely accused his neighbor.”

"A high look and a proud heart" (Psalms 101:5). In Proverbs 6:18 ff, Solomon is reputed to have listed the seven things God hates; and it is "the proud look" that leads the whole shameful list. From this, it is not too much to say that, at least some of the famed wisdom of Solomon was derived from his father David.

"Mine eyes shall be upon the faithful ... he that walketh in a perfect way" (Psalms 101:6). The meaning here is that only the faithful, only the persons who are doing right, only the honorable and the truthful, "Shall be promoted to office under my government.” Scheming, underhanded scoundrels shall be excluded from public office; and only men of known honor and integrity shall have responsible places in the king’s court.

"He that worketh deceit ... he that speaketh falsehood" (Psalms 101:7). This passage states negatively what is affirmed in the preceding verse.

"Morning by morning" (Psalms 101:8). The meaning of this is "continually," "constantly," "all the time," "every day." "The king here promises that he will be no dilatory judge whose citizens despair of a hearing.”

Apparently, in the latter days of David’s kingship he failed to keep this resolution. This enabled Absalom to steal away the hearts of the people. 2 Samuel 15:1-6 tells how Absalom met people every day on the way to see the king; he would interrupt them, declaring that no court was in session, openly expressing the allegation (which might or might not have been true) that the king had not deputed anyone to hear the plaintiff’s case, also exclaiming, "Oh that I were made judge in the land." It was by such devices as these that Absalom was able to steal the hearts of the men of Israel.

Regardless of the truth or falsity of Absalom’s allegations, there must have been some slackening of the king’s diligence that allowed such a situation to develop.

"To cut off the workers of iniquity from the city of Jehovah" (Psalms 101:8). It was a noble purpose indeed to strive for a clean city, where crime and wickedness would be suppressed, and where righteousness and truth would be honored. Human nature being what it is, we must allow that David’s hopes along this line were never completely achieved. Nevertheless, he did a far better job as king than the vast majority of the Davidic dynasty that followed him, whose lives, in the aggregate, appear to have been no better than that of other Oriental despots of that historical era.

E.M. Zerr:

Psalms 101:5. Slander is always wrong, but it is worse when done privily, which means to do done "behind one’s back." If any such man came under the knowledge of David he was to be cut off. There is not much difference between the meaning of high and proud. The second refers to the condition of the heart, and the first shows how that condition affects the outward attitude. David gave his word that he would not tolerate such a man to be in his presence.

Psalms 101:6. To be upon means to look with favor upon the faithful, and see that they have opportunity for dwelling in the land under the protection of the king. But the Psalmist would not accept service from those whose way of life was not right.

Psalms 101:7. Deceit is one form of a lie and David would not harbor such a character. With all of the fault to be found with the Psalmist for his sin with another man’s wife, he was truthful when confronted with the facts. He was a lover of truth and could not endure the sight of an untruthful man.

Psalms 101:8. Early has no word in the original in this verse. Destroy is from a word that is defined by Strong, "to extirpate." The city of the Lord means the capital city and David proposed to defend it by destroying all of the wicked enemies.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Psalms 101". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/psalms-101.html.
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