Psalm 101

Submitted by admin on Sun, 2007-05-13 08:50.

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In the superscription, this composition is ascribed to David and is called a psalm.

David determined to sing about God’s steadfast love, compassionate care, or “mercy” (LXX) and judgment or justice. His melody of praise would be directed to YHWH his God.

In his personal conduct as king, David wanted to pursue a blameless course. He then raised the question, “When will you come to me?” If directed to the Most High, this question may be understood to imply that his arrival for inspection purposes would find David in an approved state, as he would be “walking” or conducting himself with “integrity of heart” inside his house. Within his house, the manner in which he handled affairs would be concealed from public view. Nevertheless, David resolved to preserve the integrity or moral rectitude of his heart or to be blameless in discharging his responsibilities.

A number of translations convey a different sense in verse 2. Translators have chosen to take the Hebrew verb sakál (“to be prudent,” “to be insightful,” “to understand,” “to make wise,” “to attain success,” or “to consider”) to denote “to study” and, in the rendering of the question (“When will you come to me?”) have changed the “you” to “it.” “I will study the way that is blameless. When shall I attain it?” (NRSV) “I will study the way of the blameless; when shall I attain it?” (Tanakh [JPS, 1985 edition])

David determined not to set something base or worthless before his eyes. He refused to consider anything of vile, corrupt, or unlawful nature. His hatred was directed against the work of those who “fall away” or those who reject God and his upright ways. He resolved that their corrupt work would not cling to him, indicating that he would neither tolerate nor adopt any of their evil practices. According to the Septuagint, David hated those who committed transgressions.

He would greatly distance himself from persons with a “crooked heart,” not allowing into his presence those who revealed themselves to be corrupt. His not “knowing” evil would signify his not knowing bad as a practicer thereof. The Septuagint conveys a different sense. “A crooked heart did not cling to me. The wicked one [is] turning away from me. I have not known [him].” This rendering suggests that David was not one with a corrupt heart, and that he did not grant recognition to any wicked person, one who turned away from him.

Slandering is usually done in secrecy, behind a person’s back. For a slanderer to be silenced signified that David would stop him from maliciously misrepresenting others. The Septuagint represents David as saying regarding the one speaking ill about his neighbor or fellow, “This one I have driven out.” David also determined not to put up with anyone having “haughty eyes” and an “arrogant heart. Such a person would look down on others and have an exaggerated view of himself in relation to them. According to the Septuagint, David did not eat with anyone of “proud eye and insatiable heart.”

Those whom David wanted in his service (to dwell with him or, according to the Septuagint, to sit with him) and on whom his eyes were focused would be faithful or trustworthy persons. As those who “walked” or conducted themselves blamelessly, they would minister to him.

Excluded from service in his house would be any base schemer (one acting arrogantly, LXX). No liar would continue to be before his “eyes” or allowed to remain in his presence.

At the start of the day, each morning, David’s concern was to render justice, silencing or destroying (killing, LXX) all the wicked or “sinners” (LXX) of the land and cutting off (utterly destroying, LXX) all practicers of iniquity from the city of YHWH. The land of God’s people and Zion, the representative dwelling place of the Most High, were not locations where lawlessness could be tolerated.

Note: Regarding the divine name (YHWH), see Psalm 1.