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Psalm 101

A Sovereign’s Pledge of Integrity and Justice

Of David. A Psalm.


I will sing of loyalty and of justice;

to you, O L ord, I will sing.


I will study the way that is blameless.

When shall I attain it?


I will walk with integrity of heart

within my house;


I will not set before my eyes

anything that is base.


I hate the work of those who fall away;

it shall not cling to me.


Perverseness of heart shall be far from me;

I will know nothing of evil.



One who secretly slanders a neighbor

I will destroy.

A haughty look and an arrogant heart

I will not tolerate.



I will look with favor on the faithful in the land,

so that they may live with me;

whoever walks in the way that is blameless

shall minister to me.



No one who practices deceit

shall remain in my house;

no one who utters lies

shall continue in my presence.



Morning by morning I will destroy

all the wicked in the land,

cutting off all evildoers

from the city of the L ord.

5 Whoso slandereth his neighbor 130130     The reading of the Chaldee is striking, “He who speaks with a triple tongue,” “i e.,” says Bythner, “an informer, calumniator, detractor, who injures three souls, his own, his hearers, and the calumniated; he inflicts a deep wound on his own conscience, puts a lie into the mouth of his hearer, and injures the subject of his slander; according to which, Herodotus has said, Διαβολή ἐστι δεινότατον ἐν τὣ δύο μέν εἰσιν οἱ ἀδικέοντες εἷς δε ὁ ἀδικεόμενος. ‘Calumny is most iniquitous, in which there are two injuring and one injured.’” The word מלושני, meloshni rendered slandereth, is from the noun לשון, lashon, the tongue In Psalm 140:12, it is said, “Let not איש לשון, ish lashon, a man of tongue, (i e., a slanderer,) be established in the earth.” in secret, him will I destroy. In this verse he speaks more distinctly of the duty of a king who is armed with the sword, for the purpose of restraining evil-doers. Detraction, pride, and vices of every description, are justly offensive to all good men; but all men have not the power or right to cut off the proud or detractors, because they are not invested with public authority, and consequently have their hands bound. It is of importance to attend to this distinction, that the children of God may keep themselves within the bounds of moderation, and that none may pass beyond the province of his own calling. It is certain, that so long as David lived merely in the rank of a private member of society, he never dared to attempt any such thing. But after being placed on the royal throne, he received a sword from the hand of God, which he employed in punishing evil deeds. He particularises certain kinds of wickedness, that under one species, by the figure synecdoche, he might intimate his determination to punish all sorts of wickedness. To detract from the reputation of another privily, and by stealth, is a plague exceedingly destructive. It is as if a man killed a fellow-creature from a place of ambush; or rather a calumniator, like one who administers poison to his unsuspecting victim, destroys men unawares. It is a sign of a perverse and treacherous disposition to wound the good name of another, when he has no opportunity of defending himself. This vice, which is too prevalent every where, while yet it ought not to be tolerated among men, David undertakes to punish.

He next characterises the proud by two forms of expression. He describes them as those whose eyes are lofty, not that all who are proud look with a lofty countenance, but because they commonly betray the superciliousness of their proud hearts by the loftiness of their countenance. He farther describes them as wide 131131     The Hebrew noun רחב, rechab, for wide or large, is derived from רחב, rachab, dilatus est “Applied to the heart or soul, it denotes largeness of desires. — So Proverbs 28:25, ‘He that is רחב נפש, large in soul;’ where the LXX. fitly render רחב, by ἄπληστος, ‘insatiable,’ applying it either to wealth or honor, the insatiable desire of either of which (as there follows) ‘stirs up strife.’ And so here they have rendered it again ἄπλήστῳ καρδίᾳ, ‘he that cannot be filled in the heart,’ i e., the covetous or ambitious man. The Syriac reads, wide or broad; so the Jewish Arab, ‘Him that is high of eyes, and wide of heart, I can have no patience with those two.’” — Hammond of heart, because those who aspire after great things must necessarily be puffed up and swollen. They are never satisfied unless they swallow up the whole world. From this we learn that good order cannot exist, unless princes are sedulously on the watch to repress pride, which necessarily draws after it and engenders outrage and cruelty, contemptuous language, rapine, and all kinds of ill treatment. Thus it would come to pass, that the simple and the peaceable would be at the mercy of the more powerful, did not the authority of princes interfere to curb the audacity of the latter. As it is the will of God that good and faithful kings should hold pride in detestation, this vice is unquestionably the object of his own hatred. What he therefore requires from his children is gentleness and meekness, for he is the declared enemy of all who strive to elevate themselves above their condition.

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