August 24th – Les Kovacs Psalm 101
Observe: Psalm 101 is a declaration by King David that he will model his earthly kingdom after that of the Lord’s kingdom. It is his commitment to live with honesty, moral integrity, and godliness, despite the evil influences of the world
In verse 1, David promises to sing the praises of God’s love and justice. In verses 2-3, he commits himself to live in moral integrity, first within his own heart and life, and then in his relationships with others. He promises to remain blameless in his heart and his home and will not associate with faithless people doing vile things. Then in verses 4-8, he lists the things that he will not do in order to fulfill his commitment to the Lord.
Interpret: David is described as a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22), and as king of the Israelites, he is also the ultimate civil magistrate in the nation. Therefore, he must be committed to God’s system of justice and to God’s definitions of right and wrong. He knows that he must be swayed by the sinful standards and practises of the world.
All Godly leadership is rooted in a personal relationship with God. Many leaders get into trouble when their leadership demands outstrip their spiritual roots. David’s relationship with God is the foundation for everything he must do as king. He recognizes that it is not uncommon for a man to act the “nice guy” in the public eye while living as a self-centered, immoral wretch with his family in his own home. The true character of a leader like this will eventually betray itself to all. No king or other leader can remain effective if their public persona is divorced from their personal life, and so David makes this public declaration to abide by God’s standards for behaviour.
Application: This psalm presents a challenge to each of us who claim to be Christians, whether we are in positions of leadership or not. Look at the things this psalm encourages us to do: “I will be careful to lead a blameless life,” “I will conduct the affairs of my house with a blameless heart. I will not look with approval on anything that is vile.” This is an impossible model of behaviour for any human being to attain. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23)
Our modern world knows almost nothing about living a Godly life, but that doesn’t mean it was any easier for David to set these kinds of goals for his life than it would be for us today. Far from it. The sins besetting the world during our lifetimes are the same ones that beset David in his time, they merely manifest themselves in slightly different ways. And Satan’s devices are just as effective today as they were in David’s day. The traps and temptations of pride, lust, greed, and all the other vices known to humans have been the same throughout the ages.
In trying to live righteously, there may be times when you feel like you are walking through a minefield of controversial issues, while your heart is being pulled in a dozen different directions. The more of life you experience, the more you realize just how dangerous a world we live in with it’s siren call of subtle, and sometimes overt, seductions. Sometimes it is hard to know what is true and who to trust. Hypocrisy proliferates. Deceit is everywhere, including in the human heart. (Jeremiah 17:9) And if your own heart is untrustworthy, how can you possibly discern the hearts, intentions, and actions of others?
Psalm 101 contains some very hard goals for human beings to attain, but these commitments to living a Godly life is really what being a Christian is all about. However, as we struggle to achieve these lofty standards, we have a very real and constant hope provided by our faithful and merciful God. We have Jesus, the word made flesh, as our example, and we have the living word of God to instruct us through Scripture.
Every word of this psalm has relevant application to our lives because all of us have fallen short of these pledges that David makes. If we look at verse 2, we see that David recognizes how high these standards are and he offers a quiet plea to God that He come to David’s aid to help him keep his promises. And like David, we too, cannot keep these commitments without God’s help. The plain fact is that we cannot make a single commitment to do good without our constant reliance on God for His grace to enable and empower us, so prayers for His divine help, made out of our faith in Him, must always accompany our pledges to Him.
The point of this psalm is show us that although we live in a sinful world filled with evil and deceit, by faithfulness to God, through our belief in Jesus Christ, we can commit to opposing the temptations we face daily and walking in step with His will.
Prayer: Father God, we pray that you would help us to make and keep our promise to live a righteous life with a blameless heart, and to avoid the temptations lurking all around us just as David called upon you, in your great mercy to deliver him. In the Holy name of Jesus, Amen.
Song: Jesus – Chris Tomlin
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.