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A Psalm of David.
Luther calls this psalm “David’s mirror of a monarch.” It was written by him, evidently, in the early part of his reign, after the submission of all the tribes, and after fixing his capital at Jerusalem, as a model of what his kingdom should be. And when we follow out the organization of his household, his court, his kingdom, his army, the Levites in their various departments of sacred service, his plan for uniting civil justice with religion, every department under his rule with the profound ethics of Moses, and subordinating all authority, in peace and war, to the sovereignty of God, we are struck with the fidelity with which the principles of the psalm were carried out, and with the greatness and comprehension of his own mind. See a graphic summary of this in Stanley’s Jewish Church, Lect. 23
1. I will sing of mercy and judgment Two kingly qualities of the first order, and equally binding on the private citizen. Micah 6:8; Matthew 23:23.
Mercy The quality of condescending goodness which springs from love.
Judgment The norm, or rule, of judicial administration. These were the themes of his song.
Unto thee, O Lord, will I sing His poetic talent, no less than his kingly power, is dedicated to Jehovah. So, also, Psalms 45:1, “I speak [dedicate] my works to the King.”
2. I will behave myself wisely That is, prudently, with thoughtfulness and circumspection.
In a perfect way According to God’s rule, a “way” of uprightness. Choosing the “perfect way” of God’s law, he would walk in it thoughtfully and with understanding.
Oh when wilt thou come unto me This must be understood as a longing for some more special spiritual manifestation of Jehovah’s presence; or, for the more complete fulfilment of the promise relating to the full extent of his dominion; or, particularly, for the removal of the ark from Kirjath to Zion. The last would seem the more probable sense. The removal of the ark and tabernacle to Jerusalem would fix the national worship there, and be of the greatest spiritual and political importance to his government. See on Psalms 78, , 132, and compare David’s words, (2 Samuel 6:9,) “How shall the ark of Jehovah come to me? ” and Exodus 20:24: “In all places where I record my name, I will come to thee and bless thee.” Jerusalem might already, by anticipation, be called “the city of Jehovah,” and because, with his approbation and as his servant, David had there fixed his capital.
3. I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes Literally, No thing of Belial, a designation of worthlessness, lowness, impiety. He would not propose to himself such, as an object of pursuit or desire. His state policy, like his private life, should be upright. With this verse begins especially his plan and vow of kingly conduct, as what precedes more fitly applies to his personal and private life.
Work of them that turn aside Literally, work of deviations; or, taken in the concrete, (as in Hosea 5:2; Psalms 40:5,) the work of revolters; men who depart, or diverge from, law and truth. Psalms 125:5
4. A froward heart A heart turned from the right way. Such is never to be trusted.
I will not know a wicked person That is, not to approve. I will not tolerate a wicked person as an officer of government or a servant of my house. “Froward heart” and “wicked person” form the parallel here. So also “I will not know,” is explained by “shall depart from me,” in the first member.
5. Whose privily slandereth his neighbour The most dangerous and the most detestable of practices, not unusual in kingly courts, especially in oriental lands. David had suffered more from this element in Saul’s court than from any other cause, and execrated it often, as in Psalms 120:0. See Proverbs 30:10.
Him will I cut off He speaks as a king holding the sword of justice. The protection of society required it. Secret slander in official counsel is a dangerous form of bearing false witness; and where it maliciously involves the life of the innocent should be punished, like all conspiracy against life, with the same forfeiture. Such justice was recognised among the heathen. Compare the case of Haman in Esther 7:10, and of Daniel in Daniel 6:24.
High look and a proud heart Literally, lofty of eyes and broad of heart. Haughtiness and the inflation of vanity and self-conceit seem to be the qualities here condemned.
Will not I suffer I am not able to endure.
6. Mine eyes shall be upon the faithful I will choose my officers of government with reference to their moral qualities and merit, rather than to the accidents of wealth or birth.
He that walketh in a perfect way He alludes to Psalms 101:2. He had chosen for himself the same.
7. He that worketh deceit David reiterates his purpose to cut off flattery and falsehood. His horror and execration of these are expressed in Psalms 52:1-7
8. I will early destroy Literally, In the mornings I will cut off. The plural form of the noun denotes a recurrence, or repetition, of the act, as often as occasion requires; and the figurative sense of the Hebrew word morning namely, early, speedily expresses the promptness with which he designs to execute the laws against the wicked. “Day by day will he execute his work of righteous judgment, purging out all ungodliness from the holy city.” Perowne. But the allusion is supposed, by some, to be to the oriental custom of holding judicial courts in the morning. See Jeremiah 21:12; and compare Luke 22:16, and John 18:28.
Wicked doers This is the class which David would cut off: not simply men devoid of heart piety, but men actively engaged to introduce practices subversive of the religion of Jehovah, and hence enemies of the state as well. The government of the Hebrews was a theocracy; God was their real king and lawgiver. He had called and organized them, and appointed their laws and rulers. Their existence was a provision of God in the historical development of redemption, and what was against his laws was against the commonwealth, and the far reaching ends of providence. Such rebellion against God was treason as well. No similar government has ever been known upon the earth.
The city of the Lord As Jehovah was the true sovereign, so it should be the height of David’s ambition to make his city worthy of his abode. The New Testament prototype of this city the “New Jerusalem,” the “Jerusalem which is above… the mother of us all,” (Galatians 4:26,) is given Revelation 21:27.
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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Psalms 101". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 14 / Ordinary 19