The Blameless Way
(H) A psalm of David. (1) I will sing of steadfast love and justice. To you, Yahweh, I will make music. (2) I will give attention to the blameless way. When will you come to me? I will walk in my house with a blameless heart. (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, him I will destroy. Whoever has proud eyes and an arrogant heart, him I will not endure. (6) My eyes (will be) on the faithful of the land to dwell with me. He who walks in a blameless way, he will serve me. (7) No one who practices deceit will dwell within my house. No one who speaks lies will continue before my eyes. (8) Every morning I will destroy all the wicked of the land, cutting off from the city of Yahweh all those who do what is wicked.
This psalm begins with David’s praise of Yahweh. The same word used as a noun in the heading, translated “psalm,” is found as a verb translated “make music” in the first verse. Repetitions include “blameless way” (vss. 2 & 6), “heart” (vss. 4 & 5), “eyes” (used three times in vss. 5, 6, & 7), “destroy” or “annihilate” (vss. 5 & 8), and “land” (vss. 6 & 8). Note the distinction David makes between his personal desire to walk blamelessly before Yahweh (vss. 1-4) and his commitment to require a walk of integrity in the lives of those over whom he rules (vss. 5-8).
I. The king devotes himself to honoring Yahweh. (1-4)
II. The king commits his subjects to honoring Yahweh. (5-8)
Those serving as leaders for Yahweh should model the blameless life they expect in those whom they lead.
Students of Scripture should not read Psalm 101 without taking into account the history of David’s long rule over Israel found both in 2 Samuel and 1 Chronicles. David’s forty year reign was marked by a watershed event, his adultery with Bathsheba. Prior to that defiant series of sins (2 Sam. 11 & 12), Israel had reached a great moment of glory, a true “golden age.” After David’s rebellion, everything started to fall apart.
Psalm 101 was likely composed during the first half of David’s reign. The king’s assertions regarding his commitment to a life of personal integrity (vss. 2-4) take on a rather ominous tone when we recall the progression of his transgressions. First, he remained at home while his army went out to wage war (“I will walk in my house with a blameless heart” in vs. 2). Then he gazed lustfully at Bathsheba while she was bathing (“I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless” in vs. 3). Quickly, he stole her away from her husband, Uriah, the Hittite, while Uriah was out fighting for the nation (“I will give attention to the blameless way” in vs. 2). And then he conspired to have Uriah killed so he could claim Bathsheba for himself (“A perverse heart shall be far from me; I will know nothing of evil” in vs. 4).
David’s gross failure to maintain a life of personal integrity adversely affected the whole nation. His reign which had begun so hopefully ended in tragedy. His decline as well as the decline of the kings who followed him serves as a strong warning to any who serve in positions of leadership, especially in the church. Those entrusted with spiritual authority inevitably set the standard for those who are entrusted to their care. The moral failures of those who lead the flock of God result not only in personal disgrace but will inevitably have an ongoing negative impact on the lives of all those who seek to follow their examples as they supposedly follow in Christ’s footsteps.