Psalms 101 Summary - The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
In this noble Psalm a ruler addresses Jehovah. He solemnly professes his resolve to banish all baseness from his own heart, and to expel all wrong-doers from his presence, that he may be worthy to receive Jehovah as his guest, and that Jehovah’s city may be worthy of its name.
Can we accept the title which attributes the Psalm to David, and find in it the expression of lofty purpose and noble aspiration which animated him when he was contemplating the transfer of the Ark to Zion? At any rate the Psalm is worthy of the man after God’s own heart, and that episode in his life offers a natural explanation of its origin.
When the stern punishment of Uzzah’s irreverence enforced the lesson of Jehovah’s awful holiness, David exclaimed in terror, “How shall the Ark of Jehovah come unto me?” (2Sa 6:9), and the Ark was carried aside into the house of Obed-Edom. But terror was soon exchanged for that earnest longing for Jehovah’s Presence in the city of His choice which finds utterance in the cry, “Oh when wilt thou come unto me?”, and the Ark was brought up into the city of David. This Psalm then may be regarded as the expression of David’s solemn resolution to prepare himself and his city for Jehovah’s coming to dwell in their midst. It is a companion piece to Psalms 15, which describes the character required in those who were to dwell in the immediate Presence of Jehovah, and Psalms 24, composed in all probability for the translation of the Ark; and it should further be compared with Psa 18:20 ff., and with “the last words of David” in 2Sa 23:1 ff.
No doubt it might have been expected that such a Psalm, if really written by David, would have been included in one of the earlier collections; but it would be rash to assert that this must have been the case. Davidic Psalms may have been preserved elsewhere than in these collections until after the Exile; and the compiler of this book may have placed this Psalm here after the group of “accession Psalms which celebrate the re-establishment of Jehovah’s kingdom, in order to suggest how that kingdom might be made a reality for Jerusalem under the sway of a true ruler, some second David, whose kingdom would be based upon the principles of the Divine government (Psa 99:4).
The resemblance of some phrases to the language of the Book of Proverbs has been urged as evidence of a much later date. But the resemblances are not such as to prove that the Psalm is dependent on that Book in its present form. Much of the teaching of the Proverbs must have been current orally long before they were collected and reduced to writing.
Various conjectures have been suggested as to the authorship of the Psalm by commentators who think that it must be later than David. It has been attributed to Hezekiah, Josiah, the Maccabaean princes Jonathan ( 1Ma 9:28 ff.) and Simon ( 1Ma 14:14 ). It has even been regarded (in defiance of the natural meaning of Psa 101:6) as the utterance not of an individual ruler, but of the post-exilic community in Jerusalem.
This Psalm has been called “David’s mirror for rulers,” “the prince’s Psalm,” “a mirror for magistrates,” and the like. It was “beloved by the noblest of Russian princes, Vladimir Monomachos; by the gentlest of English Reformers, Nicholas Ridley” (Stanley). The story is told of Ernest the Pious, Duke of Saxe-Gotha, that he sent an unfaithful minister a copy of this Psalm, and it became a proverbial saying in the country when a minister was guilty of misconduct, “He will soon get the princes’ Psalm to read” (Delitzsch). It is naturally appointed as one of the Proper Psalms in the Service for the Day of the Sovereign’s Accession.
It consists of two equal divisions: Psa 101:1-4 contain the Psalmist’s resolutions for the conduct of his own life: Psa 101:5-8 declare his intention of banishing pride and falsehood and injustice from his court, and surrounding himself with faithful ministers.
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The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges is a biblical commentary set published in parts by Cambridge University Press from 1882 onwards. Anglican bishop John Perowne was the general editor. The first section published was written by theologian Thomas Kelly Cheyne and covered the Book of Micah.
Perowne exercised limited editorial control over the writers of individual commentaries: his aim was "to leave each contributor to the unfettered exercise of his own judgment".