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God’s Word for You

Psalm 101:3-8 The mirror

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Friday, April 23, 2021

3 I will not tolerate an evil cause in my sight.
  I hate unfaithfulness and apostasy.
  It will not stick to me.
4 A perverted heart shall be kept far from me.
  I will not acknowledge evil.

In the early part of David’s reign as king, while he was still at Hebron (between Bethlehem and Beersheba), some men murdered Ish-Bosheth the son of king Saul while he was at home, asleep in his bed. David had them executed for their wickedness (2 Samuel 4:5-12). This illustrates the basic role that God gives to rulers, “to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right” (1 Peter 2:14). Paul said: “Rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong” (Romans 13:3). When citizens are terrorized by their own government, then the government is out of balance and needs to make changes. When citizens who commit crimes go unpunished, then the government must use a heavier hand, as David did with the two murderers.

5 I will silence anyone who slanders his neighbor in secret.
  I cannot tolerate anyone who has arrogant eyes and a proud heart.

This is government’s role in the Eighth Commandment, since it applies to the courts. But David’s ear is listening even to those who slander “in secret.” The stories of the exploits of David’s mighty men (2 Samuel 23:8-23; 1 Chronicles 11:10-25, 12:1-40) show men who were brave, brilliant warriors, and fiercely loyal to David. In their group there was no room for arrogance.

6 My eyes will watch for the faithful in the land,
  so that they can be seated with me.
  Those who walk in the way of integrity will serve as my ministers.
7 Anyone who practices deceit will not sit inside my palace.
  Anyone who is a liar will not stand in my sight.

These verses have a shadow standing over them. David himself deceived his friend by seducing his wife and having him killed in battle (2 Samuel 11:2-5, 11:14-17). David did not discipline his sons, who fell into terrible sins, especially Amnon, Absalom, and Adonijah. We get the impression that those few of David’s children about whom we know next to nothing, such as Daniel whose mother was Abigail (1 Chronicles 3:1) were the ones who led quiet, peaceful lives.

In the seventeenth century, a German Duke began sending a copy of this Psalm to his officials when their actions were less than noble. If an official did something sinful, arrogant, or unnecessarily high-handed, people would say, “He’s going to be delivered with the Prince’s Psalm soon” (their name for Psalm 101). But rather than mail it to people we think should read it, we would do better to hold this Psalm up as a mirror for our lives. The mirror of the law shows me just how sinful and wretched I am and in need of a Savior.

8 Every morning I will silence all the wicked in the land,
  in order to cut off every evildoer from the city of the LORD. (EHV)

We shouldn’t look only at David’s personal failures as we finish this Psalm. We recognize that all of the kings of Israel and Judah fell short of this ideal. And knowing that, we point the finger back at ourselves, because we fall short of God’s will, too. What evildoer should be cut off from the city of God? I should. But Jesus was cut off in my place. What wicked man in the land should be silenced? I should. But Jesus was silenced in my place. Who cannot stand in God’s sight? Me. But Jesus took my place of punishment and was removed from the city of God, taken out, and put to death. The king does not want my evil to stick to him, but Jesus came and stuck all my evil to himself. And on and on backward through the Psalm. Where the king fails, the people fail, but the King of kings did not fail. The glory of Christ is that he removed our guilt forever. What kind of a Savior do I need? One who did what Christ did. What kind of Savior do I have? One like Christ? No, not like Christ. Christ himself and Christ alone is my Savior. This is his glory, and my salvation.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith

About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.

 

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