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Bible Commentaries

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible
Psalms 101

 

 

Verse 1

Psalms 101.

David maketh a vow and profession of godliness.

A Psalm of David.

Title. מזמור לדוד ledavid mizmor. David being well established on his throne, and settled in his new built palace, resolved to regulate his family and court. He wisely considered, that the example of the prince would have great influence on the morals of the people; and that he could not with any dignity and consistency punish the crimes of others, if he was guilty of the same in his own private conduct, or if he allowed them with impunity in his attendants and courtiers; and therefore, determined that he would severely punish all great and incorrigible offenders, he purposed to be himself a pattern of religion, holiness, and virtue, to his people; and to retain, as far as he could avoid it, none for his domestics and officers, but such as were men of principle, piety, and virtue. The schemes that he formed, and the regulations that he fixed on in this respect, he has transmitted down to us in the following ode; which will do honour to his memory, as a good man and an excellent king, throughout all generations. Dr. Chandler.

Psalms 101:1. I will sing of mercy and judgment This psalm has a double reference, and describes the manner in which David intended to act as king of Israel towards all his subjects, under their different denominations, as they were good or bad. Towards the faithful in the land, he would shew חסד chesed, constant benignity and favour. Towards the wicked, and such as obstinately violated the laws, he would exercise משׁפט mishpat, judgment; as he would judge and punish them according to their deeds. As this was his fixed purpose, he consecrated this song to God. To thee, O Lord, says he, I will sing; appealing hereby to him for the sincerity of his intention, to make mercy and judgment the great rules of his administration; and, accordingly, it is observed of him, that he executed justice and judgment unto all the people. 2 Samuel 8:15.


Verse 2

Psalms 101:2. I will behave, &c.— I will give instruction on the way of integrity: When will it come unto me? i.e. "I will compose a maschil to teach the true conduct of life: (O how long will it be ere I have the pleasure of enjoying it!)" Thus, says Mudge, will the sense be naturally continued on from singing and playing on instruments; after which begins the plan itself. I will walk, &c. But Dr. Chandler thinks that our version expresses the real sense, as the psalm does not contain instructive precepts to others, but the wise and salutary resolutions which David had made in reference to himself. Bishop Patrick is of opinion, that the expression refers to his own private behaviour, and contains his fixed purpose of studying with all diligence, integrity of life, and purity of manners. But, though this should not be wholly excluded, the passage seems rather to relate to his public conduct in the administration of government. He would sing of mercy and of judgment, as he was resolved to act with wisdom and circumspection, and with the most impartial justice toward all his subjects without exception. This interpretation seems to be countenanced by the words, O when wilt thou come unto me! There are some who think it probable, from this expression, that this psalm was penned during the contest between Ishbosheth and David, before he was established king over all Israel. I rather apprehend, says Dr. Chandler, that it was composed soon after that event; but whilst he was not yet firmly settled on the throne, and had not power enough to exert himself in the punishment of great offenders; as he himself complains: "I am this day weak, though anointed king; and these men, the sons of Zeruiah, are too hard for me, (2 Samuel 3:39.) that I cannot act as I would, and punish them according to their demerits." What therefore the Psalmist earnestly wished and desired was, that God would so favour him as to strengthen his hands, that he might be able to exercise justice impartially, and act agreeably to those wise and good maxims which he had laid down for the future good government of his people. An absent friend is little capable of assisting us. To do us real service, in many cases he must come to and favour us with his presence; and therefore the expression, O when wilt thou come unto me! is figurative, and must be explained of God's protecting and assisting him, as though he came to and was personally present with him, as he certainly is with all that trust him. With a perfect heart, in the next clause, is literally, in the integrity of my heart. The meaning is, "I will manage all my affairs as impartial truth and judgment shall direct me; and by my example encourage piety, holiness, and virtue, among all my domestics, dependants, and courtiers."


Verse 3

Psalms 101:3. I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes Pleasure or displeasure, approbation or abhorrence, may be known by the look or cast of the eye. What we are pleased and delighted with, attracts and fixes the eye. What we dislike or hate, we turn away from the sight of: Thus when the Psalmist resolves that he would not fix his eyes upon any evil thing, he means that he would never give it the least countenance or encouragement, but treat it with displeasure, as what he hated and was determined to punish: for he adds, I hate the work of them that turn aside. Mr. Schultens has shewn, that the word rendered turn aside has a much stronger and more significant meaning; that it is used of an unruly horse, which champs upon the bit through its fiery impatience; and when applied to a bad man, denotes one impatient of all restraint; of unbridled passions, and who is headstrong and ungovernable in the gratification of them; trampling on all the obligations of religion and virtue. Such as these are the deserved objects of the dislike of all good men, whose deviations and presumptuous crimes they detest; none of which shall cleave to them: they will not harbour the love of, or inclination to them, nor commit or encourage the practice of them. Chandler.


Verse 4

Psalms 101:4. A froward heart shall depart from me Perverse hearts shall depart from me: I will not protect him who is evil. The word עקשׁ ikkesh, rendered perverse, signifies a man of a subtle disposition, who can twist and twine himself into all manner of shapes, and who has no truth or principle to be depended upon. "I will never regard, own, or treat such a one as my favourite and friend, says David, any more than if I had never known him."


Verse 5

Psalms 101:5. Whoso privily slandereth his neighbour Those who are advanced to places of eminent dignity, trust, and profit, are the objects of hatred and envy; frequently traduced and slandered; and the worst kinds of suspicions are insinuated concerning them into the minds of those princes who employ them, in order to supplant and ruin them. It is the part of a good and prudent prince, utterly to discountenance such false and treacherous informers; and none but the worst have favoured and protected them. We learn from Tacitus, that under Tiberius they were encouraged; while Titus scourged them, sold many of them for slaves, and banished others. See Tac. Annal. lib. 4: cap. 30. Suet. Tit. cap. 8: The original words of the next clause, literally rendered, run thus, High in eyes, and broad in heart. Haughtiness and pride discover themselves in the elevation or tossing of the nose (Psalms 10:4.) and by the disdainful turning of the eye; scorning as it were to look down upon the object, as unworthy of regard; which is also expressed Proverbs 21:4. By the height of the eyes is shewn the character of him who, because of his superior riches and power, scorns to take notice of one whom he thinks beneath him. To this answers the wide or broad in heart; one whose heart dilates and swells itself with pride, on account of the largeness of his fortune, or the eminence of his station. It should be remarked however, that as the heart may be dilated with other things besides pride, so the phrase is used in a good sense, to denote the enlargement of the heart or mind with pleasure; Isaiah 60:5 or with wisdom; 1 Kings 4:29 and with other things of the like nature. Chandler.


Verse 6

Psalms 101:6. Mine eyes shall be upon the faithful In the third verse he resolved, that he would set no wicked thing before his eyes: Here he informs us what he would particularly set his eyes on, and who the persons were whom he would encourage with his smiles, and look on with an affectionate regard; namely, The faithful in the land; men of piety, probity, and virtue: These should sit or dwell with him. He would use them as his familiars and friends, employ them in the domestic services of his palace, and advance them to public offices and stations in his kingdom. This is a circumstance which Pliny mentions particularly in honour of the emperor Trajan, in his panegyric, ch. 5:


Verse 8

Psalms 101:8. I will early destroy all the wicked Literally, In the mornings I will destroy, &c. He resolves to devote all his mornings to the administration of justice, and the punishment of incorrigible offenders. This is a season most proper in itself for the management of all business, and which was generally appropriated to the administration of public affairs by princes and great men; as we learn from 2 Samuel 15:2. Jeremiah 21:12. When the Psalmist adds, that I may cut off, or rather, till I have cut off all evil doers from the city of the Lord, it is, I think, an evident proof that he was now king over all Israel, and in possession of Jerusalem, styled by him the city of the Lord; because it was now the place of Jehovah's peculiar residence, as David had lodged the ark in the midst of the tabernacle prepared for its reception: Dr. Chandler; who observes, that this psalm affords an admirable lesson for princes, to direct themselves in the administration of their affairs in public and private life. They should be the patrons of piety and virtue, and encourage them by their own example and practice. Those of their household, their servants, ministers, and particularly their favourites and friends, should be of unblameable characters, and, if possible, eminent for every thing which is excellent and praise-worthy. Subtle and fraudulent men, backbiters and slanderers, and private informers against others, they should detest, and should shew the utmost marks of displeasure to them. They should maintain the honour of the laws, and impartially punish all transgressors against them; and instead of indulging in ease, and being engrossed and dissipated by pleasure and amusement, they should consecrate a just portion of their time to the public service and promoting the real happiness of the people. Thus they will be indeed truly patriot kings, honoured of God, and esteemed and beloved of men.

 


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Bibliography Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 101:4". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/psalms-101.html. 1801-1803.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, December 11th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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