Psalm 101: The Resolutions of a Godly King

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As those who have been saved by grace through the work of Jesus, we have a call from God: we are called to the pursuit of holiness. We don’t strive for holiness in order to earn God’s favor, we are saved by grace through faith alone, but as those who have been saved we are called to live for His glory – to be holy as He is holy (1 Peter 1:14-16; Romans 6:12-13).

While the Scriptures are clear that God enables and empowers our growth in holiness, the Scriptures are equally clear that we must work hard in this pursuit. The Bible refers to our efforts against sin as a battle to be fought and race for which we need endurance. We are also told that we must prepare ourselves and be committed to our growth in godliness. As we come to Psalm 101 we have an example of what it looks like to be committed or resolved to live God’s way.

Context: The Resolutions of a Godly King

Psalm 101 was written by David, mostly likely just before or just after he took his position as the King of Israel. In the psalm David purposes to guard his own heart and to protect the nation from the influences of evil. He is resolved to be God’s kind of man and God’s kind of king. 

The King’s Resolve: To rule the way God rules (101:1)

  • A king of love and justice – As the psalm begins David reflects on (sings of) the characteristics that define the way God leads His people and commits himself to the same. As David reflects on his position as king these are the things he sings of: steadfast love and justice.

The King’s Resolve: To guard the purity of his own heart (101:2-4)

  • David knows that if he is going to be the kind of king God has called him to be it starts with a focus on his own heart.
  • David’s commitment to personal holiness in private (vs. 2) – This verse reveals David’s commitment to holiness, not only in public but in his heart and in his home. He meditates on the way that is blameless and commits to living in the same way.
  • Application– As we strive for holiness we must be focused on the way God has called us to live. We must “ponder” or meditate on the Word of God and the instructions He has given us (Psalm 119:1-11).
  • David’s commitment to avoid association with evil (vv. 3-4) -David’s resolve is clear; he wants nothing to do with evil. He commits to separate himself from anyone or anything that would lead him astray.

The King’s Resolve: To guard the purity of the nation (101:5-8)

  • David knows that God’s calling for him goes beyond guarding his own heart; he has been called to guard the purity of the nation.
  • David’s commitment to remove and deal justly with wicked leaders (vv. 5, 7) - David is committed to the work of a king and to dealing justly with those who promote wickedness. He is especially resolved to remove any leaders who don’t live up to God’s standards.
  • Application– If we are fully committed to the pursuit of holiness we must be careful who we allow to have influence in our lives. If the people who have the most influence are people who don’t value God or the things of God you are going to struggle to honor him. You’re going to feel a constant pull to go a different direction (Psalm 1:1).
  • David’s commitment to surround himself with other godly leaders (vs. 6) – If David is going to be God’s kind of man and God’s kind of king then he has to surround himself with God’s kind of people.
  • Application – One of our greatest assets in the pursuit of holiness is the people of God. As we seek to follow Him we are wise (and commanded) to surround ourselves with other Christ followers who are committed to helping us grow in Christlikeness (Proverbs 13:20; Hebrews 3:12-13; 10:24-25).
  • David’s commitment to administer justice faithfully and fully (vs. 8) – Part of the king’s responsibility is to serve as a judge. David is committed to being a just king and ensuring that the nation is protected from evil.

A Final Word – As those who have been saved and forgiven we should desire to pursue holiness (1 John 3:1-3) and to honor God with our lives, but we must never forget that this is not what saves us. We are saved by the grace and mercy of God through the work of Jesus and it is only by His righteousness that we can stand.