Psalm 101

Psalm 101[a]

Norm of Life for a Good Ruler

1 A psalm of David.

I will sing of kindness and justice;
to you, O Lord, I will offer praise in song.
2 I will walk in the path of blamelessness;
when will you come to me?[b]
Within my house[c] I will act
with integrity of heart.
3 I will not allow any shameful act
to be done before my eyes.
[d]I will refuse to associate
with people who do evil.
4 Let the perverse of heart remain far from me;
I will not tolerate the wicked.
5 [e]Anyone who secretly slanders a neighbor
I will reduce to silence.
Anyone with haughty glances and an arrogant heart
I cannot endure.
6 The faithful in the land are the ones
whom I will choose to be my companions.
Only the one who follows the path of integrity
will be allowed to be my servant.
7 No one who practices deceit
will be permitted to remain in my house.
No one who utters lies
will be numbered among my companions.[f]
8 Morning after morning[g] I will banish
all the wicked from the land,
removing all evildoers from the city of the Lord.

Footnotes

  1. Psalm 101:1 The Lord’s covenant comprises a rule of life for every Israelite, including the king. This psalm constitutes the mirror of the ruler in whom it inculcates essential resolutions: personal integrity, choice of loyal counselors, ferreting out the arrogant, the deceitful, and the slanderous from the royal court, and the battle against injustice. The teaching is classic in the Bible, but its application is rarely carried out. Nonetheless, its main ideas continue to be vitally relevant.
    We can pray this psalm in honor of Christ the King, constituted by the Father as supreme Head of the Church and of the world (Eph 1:20-23), who alone has perfectly fulfilled the commitments mentioned herein. He is thus the invisible suzerain from whom all visible leaders (both spiritual and temporal) derive their authority (see Jn 21:15-17; Rev 1:5). Since Christ makes them his representatives, all these leaders must be loving and faithful images before their subjects.
  2. Psalm 101:2 In imitation of the heavenly King, the psalmist himself will lead a blameless life. But to do so he will need God’s help, which he prays will be forthcoming (see 1 Ki 3:7-9; see also Ps 72). When will you come to me?: some see in these words an allusion to the awaited coming of the Messiah, who was at times called “The one who is to come” (see Mt 11:3; Jn 4:25). Others offer an alternative translation: “I will attend to the wholehearted man / whenever he comes to me.”
  3. Psalm 101:2 House: the king promises to make his household free of those who abuse power. Heart . . . eyes: in the Old Testament, people were thought to act after inner (“heart”) and/or external (“eye”) influence (see note on Ps 4:7; see also Ps 119:36f; Num 15:39; Job 31:7; Prov 21:4; Eccl 2:10; Jer 22:17).
  4. Psalm 101:3 The psalmist will not desire or do evil himself nor condone it in others and will avoid all evildoers.
  5. Psalm 101:5 The norms of the king’s private life are also the fundamental principles of his governing. He will bring into his service only the “faithful” and those who follow “the path of integrity.” Reduce to silence: i.e., destroy (see Pss 54:7; 94:23). Arrogant: see note on Ps 31:24.
  6. Psalm 101:7 Will . . . companions: another translation is: “will stand in my presence.”
  7. Psalm 101:8 Evildoers will be eradicated from the kingdom. Morning after morning: the customary time for administering justice (see 2 Sam 15:2; Jer 21:12) and for receiving God’s help (see Pss 59:17; 143:8; Isa 33:2). City of the Lord: see Pss 46:5f; 48:2f, 9; 87:3.

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