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Of Love and Hate

Jan 21, 2018 by: Mike Law| Series: Psalms | Category: Exposition

This recording starts after the sermon introduction and reading of Psalm 101. Please see the text for the beginning of this sermon below:

 

January is a month that is known for important speeches. Once every four years the people of this nation hear an inaugural address. In the intervening years, the President of the United States gives a speech concerning the state of the union. I believe one of those may be coming up in just a few weeks. Many, I suppose are interested in what that address will contain. Normally, however, the inaugural address is watched and heard with greater interest. This is understandable. What will this new leader say as his administration begins? What are the principles by which he will govern? What are the policies he will prioritize? Imagine, if you would, a newly elected President of these United States opening his inaugural address or imagine the State of the Union in a couple of weeks beginning in this way:

I am resolved to lead with love and justice as my guiding principles. I am resolved and to think slowly and carefully about what is good and right. I am resolved, to walk with integrity in both private and public. I am resolved to keep my hands, eyes, tongue, and heart from evil. I am resolved to dismiss counselors who would mar my judgment and reputation by their perversity. I am resolved to remove from my administration those who would deceive and slander others. I am resolved to expel from this government the proud and the arrogant who would seek their interests before the interests of others. And I am resolved to reward and exalt to positions of power and prominence those who are humble and eager to serve. This administration will be marked by integrity and fidelity to the principles of love and justice.

 

I’m not sure many of us would know what to say or how to respond if we heard an inaugural address or state of the union begin like that, but according to a number of scholars, that is how King David may have begun his rule when he ascended to the throne in ancient Israel.

Psalm 101, the Psalm that we’re studying together this morning, is thought to be a coronation Psalm.[1] That means, when a new king in Israel was crowned, this Psalm would be used to express his promises to God and his promises to God’s people as he began to rule.[2] The rule of a king, a prime minister, or president can have a profound effect on the people he leads and governs. Think of how the righteousness of a leader can bless those under his authority. And think of how the unrighteousness of a leader can serve as a burden to those under his authority.

Though Psalm 101 expresses the resolve of a ruling king among the ancient people of God, it still has something to say to us today. The truth is that we all have authority in various ways. Whether you run a lobbying shop or deli shop, whether you run a laundry room or a classroom or both, whether you direct street traffic or online traffic, whether you manage stocks or restock shelves you have been invested with a certain amount of authority. God expects you – no, he demands that your exercise of authority mirror his authority for his glory. With this in mind, we can all learn from David’s righteous resolve expressed in Psalm 101.

            If you haven’t done so, let me invite you to turn in your Bibles to Psalm 101. If you’re using one of the Bibles found in the pews, then you can find the passage beginning on page 501. While you’re turning there, allow me to set the context for our study.

            It is important for us to remember that the Bible is one gloriously true story wherein God reveals his purpose to bring his people into his place to live under his righteous rule. When we’re in the Psalms we’re in that part of the Bible where our expectations of the coming of God’s Messiah, his final and faithful righteous ruler, are being prepared. Here, in the Old Testament, we are learning about what Jesus will be like. This Psalm is teaching us about Jesus’ righteousness and his righteous kingdom. David is in many respects speaking prophetically, and still he is speaking in a manner that is relevant to his reign, and the reign of the kings who would sit on the throne after him.

            All things considered, this Psalm was written in a fairly stable time in the life of the people of Israel. God has rescued his people from under slavery and the rule of Pharaoh in Egypt. God has led them through the wilderness and given Israel his law, the law that they and the king were to uphold. The people of Israel have entered into the Promised Land of Canaan and now they are living under the rule of God’s king. Psalm 101, in many respects, may mark one of the promising peaks within the history of the people of Israel – something of a golden era. God’s people are living in God’s place, under God’s rule and ruler.

            As we prepare to read how David purposes to govern God’s people be prepared to see how David begins with his own heart and house with the hopes of seeing God’s righteous rule extended throughout his realm.[3] Read Psalm 101,

A Psalm of David.

1 I will sing of steadfast love and justice; to you, O Lord, I will make music. 2 I will ponder the way that is blameless. Oh when will you come to me? I will walk with integrity of heart within my house; 3 I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me. 4 A perverse heart shall be far from me; I will know nothing of evil. 5 Whoever slanders his neighbor secretly I will destroy. Whoever has a haughty look and an arrogant heart I will not endure. 6 I will look with favor on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me; he who walks in the way that is blameless shall minister to me. 7 No one who practices deceit shall dwell in my house; no one who utters lies shall continue before my eyes. 8 Morning by morning I will destroy all the wicked in the land, cutting off all the evildoers from the city of the Lord.

 

[1] “Psalm 101 could be thought of as the ruler’s response, as a solemn vow in view of this judicial transference of power.” Hans-Joachim Kraus, A Continental Commentary: Psalms 60–150 (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1993), 278.

[2] “The psalm was composed for use at the inaugural of the king or a celebration of his kingship (see Introduction, sec. 6.11). It is a declaration of commitment to the righteous conduct that belonged to the ideal of a king (see the comment on Pss. 72:1–4, 12–14; 45:4–7; 18:20–30).” James Luther Mays, Psalms, Interpretation, a Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching (Louisville, KY: John Knox Press, 1994), 321.

[3] “This is just such a psalm as the man after God’s own heart would compose when he was about to become king in Israel. It is David all over, straightforward, resolute, devout; there is no trace of policy or vacillation—the Lord has appointed him to be king, and he knows it; therefore he purposes in all things to behave as becomes a monarch whom the Lord himself has chosen. If we call this the Psalm of Pious Resolutions, we shall perhaps remember it all the more readily." C. H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, vol. 2b, Psalms 88–110 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1966), 239.