A devotion of Psalm 101.
1 I will sing of mercy and justice; to You, O Lord, I will sing praises.
Yesterday I confessed to a friend that sometimes I am not very responsive to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. He’ll bring a “haphazard” matter to mind that needs my attention, normally a person or a matter of conviction. I have been learning to stop, grab it, and then attend to it but it doesn’t always register on the importance scale. In his kindness and patience, he’ll bring it up again, usually in a different format, as a confirmation.
David does not have to be tapped several times to attend to what God is asking. The last few psalms have been asking us to sing. David says, “I will sing!” Where would my life be if whenever God prompted me to act I immediately turned around and said, “I will do that”? It would greatly bolster my participation in the divine nature.
When we think of the various metaphors that God uses for our relationship with him, the primary ones that come to mind are marriage and parenting. Can you imagine the frustration of being with someone who you express important instructions and requests to and they constantly ignore or second guess you? They run off to consult someone else to validate or, more often, invalidate what you said.
What if I asked Justin to do something that was near to my heart or that needs to happen in our marriage and he repeatedly ignores me or, worse, comes back with “Marcos said that’s not a good idea.” This marriage would be up a stream without a paddle. Or think of the child who has to be asked repeatedly to get to a task. I’m not even talking here about one who responds rudely or is disobedient – imagine one with a gentle heart that has to be asked repeatedly to get to the task…
2 I will behave wisely in a perfect way. Oh, when will You come to me? I will walk within my house with a perfect heart.
BEGIN WITH ME
David may have written this psalm as he was about to ascend the throne. While this colossal calling loomed over him, he turned the focus to the primacy of his personal conduct. How far would our homes, our cities, our nation, or our world be if leaders vowed, “I will behave wisely in a perfect way”? What a standard to hold oneself to. Many don’t even consider that. Many think, ‘I’m in control now, it’s party time!” But not this man after God’s own heart. Though he failed repeatedly, at least this was his standard. He didn’t have zero expectations of his accountability and grand ones for others.
He holds himself to wisdom – to thinking things through, to constantly reevaluating himself, to paying close attention to what’s important, to having insight and understanding.
Moreover, David sets the highest standard – the home standard. Commentator Guzik quotes some great men to this end: Morgan says, “The first thing for every public man to do who would serve his city for God, is to see to it that his private life is ordered aright before Him.” He quotes Spurgeon, “Reader, how fares it with your family? Do you sing in the choir and sin in the chamber? Are you a saint abroad and a devil at home? For shame! What we are at home, that we are indeed;” and Meyer, “If you would resolve to walk in your house with a perfect heart, you would discover how far from perfect you are, and how you are the least of His saints.”
How are you behaving at home, believer? We all have some serious work to do if we are to have those around us say, “so and so walks within our house with a perfect heart.” What a challenge. Let’s get to it. And remember nothing will bring us closer to this reputation than stating the goal and then frequently confessing our failures and recommitting to the goal.
3 I will set nothing wicked before my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; It shall not cling to me.
4 A perverse heart shall depart from me; I will not know wickedness.
Our senses are the gateway to our attention, and therefore to our conduct, and therefore to our reputation. We have to guard these portals, particularly the eyes because with them, we may be invited into worlds we have no business being in. We must be on guard. These tempters that want our attention are like seeds on a plant by a walkway that attach themselves to any passerby. Send all perversity away like a bad dog. Want nothing to do with its company.
5 Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor, Him I will destroy; The one who has a haughty look and a proud heart, him I will not endure.
How do you deal with gossip? We know that the words of a gossip go down like a choice morsel. We can swiftly gain an appetite for it. Something about our hearts leaps at the thought of being in the know or being a confidante of someone with some juicy gossip.
David sets a different standard for us: If you come to secretly slander a neighbor to me, I will destroy you! Wow. That seems a little extreme. But that should inform us of how insidious this matter is. You are coming to me to destroy someone else. I will destroy you. Carry those powerful words in our heart and ask Holy Spirit to show you how to apply them with grace and finality. Earn a reputation as one who does not abide tongue-waggers.
What about those with proud hearts? Abide not those either. Do not contribute to their being puffed up and self-obsessed by tolerating their pride. Associate with and emulate humble people of all walks of life.
6 My eyes shall be on the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me; He who walks in a perfect way, he shall serve me.
Who do you surround yourself with? Look deliberately for faithful friends of Jehovah to dwell with you. Guard carefully who you let into your inner circles. I am not saying we are only to have believers as companions. I am saying we must exercise great discretion in who you regularly expose yourself to, especially when your guard is down as it would be in your home and in your workplace. I’m hearing this verse teach us that if you have a choice, chose aman. That beautiful word for ‘faithful’ means one who supports, upholds, nourishes; a pillar; established, verified, trusted – in other words, an Ethan.
7 He who works deceit shall not dwell within my house; he who tells lies shall not continue in my presence.
8 Early I will destroy all the wicked of the land, That I may cut off all the evildoers from the city of the Lord.
David is intent on cleaning house – starting with himself but not stopping there. How keen are we do this in this ‘live and let live’ culture? Of course, if we were to follow verse 8 to the letter, the land would be desolate.
I am hearing an intolerance to flagrant wickedness. I love that he starts verse 8 with the word “early.” Too frequently something in an interaction has bothered me and I’ve let it go, only to have it get worse and worse and then surprise the person when I bring it up down the road. They wonder, “I’ve been doing this all along, why are you now jumping on me?”’
May I respond to Holy Spirit nudges in my life promptly so I can take care of things early. Is something bothering you? Is that a Holy Spirit nudge? Bring it up early. You don’t even have to be asking for a change in the situation. Just express how it’s sitting with you. The longer you wait, the harder it will get, especially in new relationships.