Psalm 101

Prayer

You are the high and exalted One, O Lord our God. You are He who sits enthroned in the heavens, looking down upon the sons of men to see if there are any whose hearts are right with You. You look to see if there are any who wait on You, to hear Your Word, with ready hearts to obey swiftly all your commands. We confess before You, that though we are not as ready and humble as we should be, yet we desire to meet with You in this time. Please speak to us by Your Spirit, through Your Word. Lead us in Your truth and teach us, for we wait on You. —Psalm 101

Today’s Hymn

Horatius Bonar Words: Horatius Bonar, Hymns of Faith and Hope, third series, 1866.

FILL THOU MY LIFE
Click here for tune.

Fill Thou my life, O Lord my God,
In every part with praise,
That my whole being may proclaim
Thy being and Thy ways.
Not for the lip of praise alone,
Nor e’en the praising heart
I ask, but for a life made up
Of praise in every part!

Praise in the common words I speak,
Life’s common looks and tones,
In fellowship in hearth and board
With my belovèd ones;
Not in the temple crowd alone
Where holy voices chime,
But in the silent paths of earth,
The quiet rooms of time.

Fill every part of me with praise;
Let all my being speak
Of Thee and of Thy love, O Lord,
Poor though I be, and weak.
So shalt Thou, Lord, from me, e’en me,
Receive the glory due;
And so shall I begin on earth
The song forever new.

So shall each fear, each fret, each care
Be turned into a song,
And every winding of the way
The echo shall prolong;
So shall no part of day or night
From sacredness be free;
But all my life, in every step
Be fellowship with Thee.

Thought Provoker

In John Bunyan’s work The Holy War, he gives an excellent illustration of the power of images in relation to the spiritual life and well being of a person. In his lesser-known allegory, the city of “Mansoul” obviously represents the soul of a man as a city with walls and gates. The easiest way to get access into Mansoul is to enter into one of the several gates, by enticing the guards of that gate to open up and let one in. The names of the gates are Ear-gate, Eye-gate, Mouth-gate, Nose-gate, and Feel-gate. “Eye-gate” represents various things that we see, or the images that register in our mind via the eye and optic nerves.

This Psalm will address, among other things, David’s determination to protect his Eye-gate with all the energy he can muster.

Dad’s Study

In this Psalm we have David making certain resolutions about how he will conduct his house (see vv. 2 & 7) and how he will conduct protect the kingdom. I want particularly to consider his resolutions concerning his conduct in his own house, and then make some applications regarding our own.

We see in v.1 that David commits to being a man of praise to God for His mercy and justice. He is one who wants to live a life of worship to the Lord for what He has done and who He is. But David knows it isn’t merely what he is before others, and what he says before others, but that even in the secret places of his own home that his life is seen by God.

In v.2 David commits to wise and blameless behavior, with a desire for the presence of God. He says I will behave wisely in a blameless way—Oh, when will you come to me? David is not a religious hypocrite, going to church to play the part. But he is a man who passionately desires God’s wisdom in all of his life, and to know a moment-by-moment sense of God’s presence. We also find his commitment to walk within his house with a heart perfect before the Lord.

Next, in verses 3 and following, we see David’s several vows before God. Let us only focus on the first one, that he will set nothing wicked before his eyes. The idea in the Hebrew can be fleshed out that he will not purposefully and in a determined way set things before him to view (i.e. enter the Eye-gate) which are wicked. This is not the standard word for wicked, but a broader term meaning that which is worthless, good for nothing, or unprofitable. In broadening the term, it doesn’t make this verse less challenging, but even more so.

I want to suggest that this verse isn’t saying that anything that presents things that are evil, bad, ugly, acts of sin, etc. must never be set before our eyes, for then it would be impossible to read our Bibles. To read the Scriptures we find the presentation of things that are evil and sinful (albeit, in written rather than image form). But what do we do with those words but form images in our mind to try and understand something of what the text is saying. Words have meanings and images behind them, and reading without the sanctified use of such imagination is impossible.

So rather than shunning anything that presents these things, we must ask a larger and more fundament question: is what I am watching or looking at (whether in books, movies, pictures) something which is profitable? Is it something that enables me to truly understand such things as the ugliness of sin, the virtue of righteousness, man’s need for salvation, or general enjoyment and recreation? Does it help me, in a positive and helpful way, to understand God’s truth?

Here we must be careful, for the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). The Scripture speaks about each man’s ways being right in his own eyes (Proverbs 21:2). The verses remind us that we can justify all manner of things just to indulge our flesh. On the other hand, there are things that can be genuinely profitable and helpful to us in understanding God, His world, and the common virtues as well as the sinfulness of men.

Click here for Matthew Henry’s Commentary.

Truth in Practice

For some this perspective of the Christian life (and especially as it pertains to entertainment and recreation) will seem too loose and open to abuse. And it is true; some may abuse the grace of God and turn it into licentiousness (Jude 4). But one mark of the growing and maturing Christian is to be able to exercise discernment. We read in Hebrews 5:14 “But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” Though there are certain things that are absolutely out of bounds for the child of God, there are some things that need Spirit-led discernment, which is exercised to determine whether some things are good or evil.

This view not only asks “is it lawful?” but “is it profitable?” thus making our use of entertainment (whether in written or visual form) more sanctified. Just because I can watch or read something, doesn’t mean that it will be profitable.

Are we then, in our homes, exercising true discernment in relation to what we read and what we watch? Is it GOOD for us, is it doing our souls good? Is it helping me in my walk with God to understand His truth better, or are these things gradually eroding my spiritual stamina and dulling my conscience. To whatever degree we are setting things before our eyes that are not profitable, may we turn from them and fill our minds with those things that are. And may we have loving balance in judging our brothers and sisters as they also seek to exercise this discernment of good and evil. May we, by the grace of God, not err on the right hand, or on the left.

Pastor Stephen Gambill, Reformed Baptist Church of Nashville

Catechism

Question 43

Q. What is required in the first commandment?

A. The first commandment requires us to know (1 Chron. 28:9), and acknowledge God to be the only true God, and our God (Deut. 26:17), and to worship and glorify him accordingly (Mat. 4:10).