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PSALM 101

STROPHE DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
The Psalmist's Profession of Uprightness
 MT Intro
A Psalm of David

Promised Faithfulness to the Lord

A King Pledges to Rule Justly

A King's Promise

The Ideal Ruler

101:1-5

101:1

101:1-2b

101:1-2b

101:1-2b

 

101:2

101:2c-3b

101:2c-5

101:2c-3b

 

101:3-4

101:3c-4

 

101:3c-4

 

101:5

101:5

 

101:5

101:6-8

101:6-8

101:6

101:6

101:6

 

 

101:7

101:7-8

101:7

 

 

101:8

 

101:8

READING CYCLE THREE(see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

 This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

 Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

 1. First paragraph

 2. Second paragraph

 3. Etc.

 

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS

 A. The first strophe starts out with three cohortatives (Ps. 101:1-2, i.e., OT Parsing Guide, p. 451).

 1. I will sing - BDB 1010, KB 1479, Qal

 2. I will sing praises - BDB 274, KB 372, Piel

 3. I will give heed - BDB 968, KB 1328, Hiphil

The NASB continues the strophe through Ps. 101:5. There are several more "I will. . ." statements that function as cohortatives.

 1. I will walk. . ., Ps. 101:2 - BDB 229, BK 246

 2. I will set. . ., Ps. 101:3 - BDB 1011, KB 1483, Qal imperfect

 3. I hate. . ., Ps. 101:3 - BDB 971, KB 1338, Qal perfect (but in a series of imperfects)

 4. I will know. . ., Ps. 101:4 - BDB 393, KB 390, Qal imperfect

 5. I will destroy. . ., Ps. 101:5 - BDB 856, KB 1035, Hiphil imperfect

 6. . . .will I endure, Ps. 101:5 - BDB 407, KB 410, Qal imperfect

Just a disclaimer, other scholars see these verbs as referring to past action (AB, vol. 17A, p. 4). I think the first verbs are what the psalmist will do when YHWH comes (Ps. 100:2b) because of his godly covenant obedience.

 B. This strophe (Ps. 101:1-5) functions as an affirmation of the psalmist's faith and faithfulness to YHWH and His revelation.

 1. he sings of YHWH's lovingkindness (i.e., hesed, see Special Topic: Lovingkindness [hesed]; because of Ps. 101:2-5, these first two may be a claim of the psalmist's faithfulness and fairness. These two nouns often describe YHWH. The King should reflect YHWH's character).

 2. he sings of YHWH's justice (see Special Topic: Judge, Judgment, Justice)

 3. he lives the blameless way

 a. for "blameless," see Special Topic: Blameless, Innocent, Without Reproach

 b. for "way," see online notes at Deut. 8:6 and 10:20; Ps. 1:1; for the related term "path" (BDB 73) see online note at Isa. 2:3

 4. he walks in integrity (BDB 1070) of heart

 5. he puts no worthless thing (BDB 116) before his eyes

 6. he hates those who swerve from the right (rare noun, used only twice in the OT, BDB 962, cf. Hosea 5:2)

 7. he does not allow their evil (i.e., #6) to cling to him

 8. he knows no evil

 9. he will destroy/silence those who secretly slander

 10. he will not endure those who have

 a. a haughty look

 b. an arrogant heart

 C. The second strophe continues the emphasis of Ps. 101:1-5. It describes the psalmist's godly lifestyle and rejection of evil.

 1. positive (Ps. 101:6)

 a. he knows the faithful of the land

 b. he desires that they dwell together

 c. he allows those who live blameless lives (Ps. 101:6b) to minister/serve with him

 2. negative (Ps. 101:7-8)

 a. he will not allow those who practice deceit to dwell with him

 b. he will not allow those who speak falsehood to minister/serve him

 c. he will continually destroy/silence the wicked of the land

 d. he will cut off those who imply the psalmist is the "king"

 D. Notice how the opposite of faithful followers are characterized.

 1. idolaters, Ps. 101:3a

 2. apostates, Ps. 101:3b

 3. perverse heart, Ps. 101:4a

 4. secret slanders, Ps. 101:5a

 5. haughty look, Ps. 101:5b

 6. arrogant heart, Ps. 101:5b

 7. practice deceit, Ps. 101:7a

 8. speaks falsehood, Ps. 101:7b

 9. the wicked, Ps. 101:8a

 10. those who do iniquity, Ps. 101:8b

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 101:1-5
 1I will sing of lovingkindness and justice,
  To You, O Lord, I will sing praises.
 2I will give heed to the blameless way.
  When will You come to me?
  I will walk within my house in the integrity of my heart.
 3I will set no worthless thing before my eyes;
  I hate the work of those who fall away;
  It shall not fasten its grip on me.
 4A perverse heart shall depart from me;
  I will know no evil.
 5Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor, him I will destroy;
  No one who has a haughty look and an arrogant heart will I endure.

101:1 "lovingkindness and justice" For "lovingkindness" see SPECIAL TOPIC: LOVINGKINDNESS (HESED).

For "justice" see Special Topic: Judge, Judgment, Justice.

▣ "O Lord" This is the covenant name for Israel's Deity (YHWH). See SPECIAL TOPIC: NAMES FOR DEITY.

101:2 "blameless" See Special Topic: Blameless, Innocent, Without Reproach.

▣ "When will You come to me?" This phrase is translated "when shall I attain it?" by JPSOA. The UBS Text Project (p. 373) supports the MT with a "B" rating (some doubt).

It reflects the OT, Mosaic, performance-based covenant. It is often called "the two ways" (cf. Psalm 1; Deut. 30:1,15-20; Jer. 17:5-8). It is a "Wisdom Literature" category designated by the terms

 1. blessed (cf. Ps. 1:1; Matthew 7)

 2. cursed (cf. Deuteronomy 27-28)

 3. plant life, either fruitful or dying

Prosperity was viewed as a direct gift from God for obedience to the covenant, but problems were a direct result of sin (cf. Job; Psalm 73). This OT theological view must be modified by the NT's revelation. God is with us and for us, based on who He is! Jesus comes for all, not just some. The OT focuses on the poor, alienated, and socially powerless as a theological way of asserting His love for all, not just the outwardly blessed! He has come in Christ! His love must be received by repentance, faith, obedience, service, and perseverance.

▣ "within my house" This phrase is ambiguous. It could refer to

 1. the nations (cf. Ps. 101:7, i.e., psalmist as king)

 2. a domestic area

 3. a society

The psalmist is asserting either his current or past obedience to YHWH's covenant through Moses. Those described in Ps. 101:3 are those who knowingly violate the covenant repeatedly (imperfect).

 The word "house," BDB 108, is used of the king's palace in 1 Kgs. 4:6; 16:9; Isa. 22:15. This could support the view that the author was the king.

101:3 This verse describes an apostasy from the faith. The term translated "fall away" (BDB 962, KB 750) occurs only here and in Hosea 5:2. KB suggests "deviation" or "transgression" (LXX). This is a difficult concept but a repeated one in Scripture. See SPECIAL TOPIC: APOSTASY (APHISTĒMI). For most of Israel's history only a fraction of her people were faithful followers.

▣ "worthless thing" This noun (BDB 116) is the root from which the later title for Satan, Belial, is derived. Its basic meaning is "worthless," "good for nothing," "base." In this context it may refer to idolatry (AB, vol. 17A, p. 61).

See note from Deut. 13:13.

Deut. 13:13 "worthless men" Literally this means "sons of Belial" (BDB 116). The Hebrew word meant "worthless one" or "good for nothing" (cf. Jdgs. 19:22; 20:13; 1 Sam. 10:27; 30:22; 1 Kgs. 21:10,13; Pro. 6:12). By the NT time, Belial had become synonymous with Satan (cf. 2 Cor. 6:15). There is a theological development in Scripture where evil becomes personified.

SPECIAL TOPIC: PERSONAL EVIL

101:4 "evil" Evil (BDB 948 II), in this context, is conscious violation of YHWH's revealed will. Because evil people are addressed in Ps. 101:3b, 5a, 6, I think this also refers to an evil person (cf. NAB, New Berkeley version). See my notes from Deut. 30:15-20 online, www.freebiblecommentary.org.

101:5 "I will destroy" The verb (BDB 856, KB 1035, Hiphil imperfect [I believe, used in a cohortative sense]) means "exterminate," or "annihilate" in Hebrew, but in Arabic, it means "to silence" (cf. NJB). This connotation of the root fits this context best. It shows that secret lies/slander will be silenced (REB).

 Justice will come one day! It has come in Christ (cf. Matt. 3:2; 4:17) and will be consummated one day over all the earth (cf. Matt. 6:10; John 14:1-3; Rev. 11:15).

▣ "will I endure" The MT (BDB 407, KB 410, Qal imperfect) consonants, יכל, are interpreted by the LXX as אכל (BDB 37). This emendation is not supported by any major English translation, except the NEB, but it is not followed by the REB. "Endure" or "tolerate" parallels "destroy" or "silence."

 NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 101:6-8
 6My eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me;
 He who walks in a blameless way is the one who will minister to me.
 7He who practices deceit shall not dwell within my house;
 He who speaks falsehood shall not maintain his position before me.
 8Every morning I will destroy all the wicked of the land,
 So as to cut off from the city of the Lord all those who do iniquity.

101:6 Several English translations make both Ps. 101:5 and 6 separate strophes (NRSV, NJB). This is possibly because Ps. 101:3-4, 5 (and 7) describe who the king will not accept, while Ps. 101:6 describes those he will accept. These are the kinds of faithful followers who are like the king himself (cf. Ps. 101:1-2).

101:7 "before me" This construct of BDB 617 and BDB 744 is repeated from Ps. 101:3a. This phrase is parallel to "within my house," which is another reason to see this Psalm as authored by the king.

101:8 This verse seems to have an eschatological orientation.

 1. every morning (i.e., coming of light; or simply the time the king held court, cf. 2 Sam. 15:2)

 2. the land (i.e., has several possible connotations, see Special Topic: Land, Country, Earth)

 3. the city of the Lord (see Revelation 21-22, where it becomes imagery of all the people of God, i.e., "the holy city, new Jerusalem")

 4. cut off. . .all those who do iniquity (cf. Matt. 25:31-46; Rev. 20:11-15; 21:8,27)

 

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

 This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

 These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought provoking, not definitive.

 1. Is this a royal Psalm? Why or why not?

 2. Does Ps. 101:1 describe YHWH or the king?

 3. Why is Ps. 101:2b so difficult to interpret?

 4. Does Ps. 101:3 refer to idolatry?

 5. Is Ps. 101:8 eschatological or ideal?

 

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