I will sing of steadfast love and justice;
to you, O LORD, I will make music.
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;
I will not set before my eyes
anything that is worthless. (Psalm 101:1-3)
David’s vow as a king speaks to us all, teaching us to guard our hearts and our homes from unholy and impure influences, to walk with integrity of heart within our own houses. The psalm is primarily about earthly rulers, and the importance of integrity, but its application does not stop there, and also applies to each of us.
David, of course, unfortunately failed his own test, when his eyes cast over the bathing Bathsheba, and lust did the rest. The passage starts with the phrase, “In the spring of the year when kings march out to war, David sent … the whole army of Israel … but David remained in Jerusalem” (2 Sam 11:1). It has long been held by many Bible students that David was not doing his own duty and, thereby, opened himself up to temptation.
Luther held to a concept of three earthly governments: civil government, the church, and the home. Though theologians have been most interested in civil government and the church, we should not forget the importance of the home. In the home we are still subject to civil and church government, but in a much diminished way. Marriage, family, and the home is the first institution established by God, and it is the most important in life. For there values are formed and adopted, and love and fairness are experienced, or should be.
Everyone has a home, even those who live alone and are unmarried, have a home. And a Christian’s home should be a place where God is honored and evil is kept at bay. Admittedly, it is difficult to do this in today’s world, for there is so much evil in the news and entertainment medias. But to the degree possible, we should guard against polluting our hearts and minds with in pure thoughts.
Steadfast love and Justice
To values David espoused as primary to consider: (1) steadfast love, favor, or mercy, chesed in Hebrew, and (2) justice or proper judgment, mishpat in Hebrew. These words are important words and essential concepts to understand the Old Testament and how we are to live God-honoring lives. These both start in the heart of God and in His character, and the more we know of God’s mercy and favor to us, and of His judgment and justice, the more we will be able to live properly here. Truly the meanings of these two words are inexhaustible, but they consist basically of the confidence of God’s love to us and of our responsibility to think and act properly and righteously.
It starts in the heart
We cannot help but notice that David’s choice of verbs is important. He says he will “sing” of God’s steadfast love and justice, and singing comes from the heart. He described his worship of God, of valuing God’s faithfulness and goodness, making these thoughts the dominant ones in his heart each day.
He also says he will “ponder” or consider these things. This goes beyond sheer emotion or feeling, and means he will reason out the meanings of these attributes of God. He will “walk” with integrity in his home, and this describes his daily life, everyday, and the whole day. He will go about his duties contemplating these realities. And he will also “set no wicked thing” before his eyes. “Set” means to put or apply or place, and it has the idea of the matters that he will attend to during that day.
A king, of course, or any public servant, will have to deal with impure things in terms of judgment, and the remainder of the psalm has to do with winnowing out those impure people and matters from his government. His intention is to get rid of these things that cause offense to his conscience and heart.
Paul advised believers not to toy with those things that offend our consciences — even if they do not bother every Christian. “But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean” (Rom. 14:14). If you and I feel guilty for doing something, then we should not do it. If our feelings of guilt are not well grounded in truth, or justifiable, then God will show us that as we mature. But just because other Christians may be involved in some activity and say it is okay, if we feel uncomfortable in our hearts, then we should not do it.
What is unsaid
David only alludes to his desire for God to walk close to him, as he says, “When will You come to me?” To be a believer in the Lord Jesus is not merely about thinking the right thoughts, or doing the right things. It is especially about walking in fellowship with God through the Spirit. We faithfully stand for God not because we are so clever but because God is so faithful. We stand in Him.
Walking in the faith means walking in the fellowship of the Spirit with God. Christ Himself shows up in our lives and in our consciousnesses through His Spirit, speaking to our spirits. And He enables us to stand. (See Romans 14:4 and Jude 1:24.)
- How often is the steadfast love and judgment of God on your mind?
- Do you long for daily fellowship with Christ?
- Are there unconfessed sins and unsurrendered habits in your life that you need to give to God?
- What impure things do you set before your eyes daily?
- How do you ponder about the love and justice of God?