The Book of Psalms

Friday: Pattern for an Upright Administration


Theme: Looking to Jesus
From this week’s lessons, we learn what virtues to practice and vices to reject in order to be the kind of godly leaders and servants God has called us to be.
Scripture: Psalm 101:1-8
David wanted to surround himself with good people, people he could trust and whose walk was blameless. Sometimes, when people are in positions of power or responsibility, they turn to those who can “get the job done” and do not ask questions about how they do it. It is worldly wisdom to say, “No one can rule effectively who cannot close his eyes and ears to some of the things that are going on around him.” But a good government is one in which the high places are filled with upright and not unscrupulous people. Luther said, “If God wants to be good to a prince or a country, he gives him a fine Joseph or a Naaman to be near him, through whom all things fare well and prosper.”1
May God give us many such for our own government today! And in the companies for which we work! And in the church! We need people who can get the job done, but we need “the faithful of the land” to do it. It is a wise leader who seeks out such people and then puts authority into their hands.
But now I need to end both on a sad and happy note. The sad part is to say that although David possessed these high and wonderful ideals, he did not live up to them. He started well and was a mostly moral man. But the last years of his reign were marked by his own personal sin and by growing violence within his own family and government. It was not that he was not a good king or that he had inadequate moral standards, only that he was a man and thus also a sinner, as we all are. No human being, however noble his or her intentions may be, ever lives up to a perfect standard of righteousness. That is why otherwise good political administrations tend toward corruption in their later years. It is why old leaders often fail.
The good news is that there is one who does not fail. In fact, he can never fail, for he is Jesus, God’s Son. God has placed the governing of the entire universe in his hands. Revelation says, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever” (Rev. 11:15).
Meanwhile, is it not true that Jesus, like David, has his eyes alert for the faithful in the land, for those who will serve now and also dwell with him in glory at the end of time? Will you be one of them? The way to do it is by keeping close to him, serving him always—and the best you can.
1Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, vol. 13, Selected Psalms II, ed. Jaroslav Pelikan (Saint Louis: Concordia, 1959), p. 170.
Study Questions:

Describe the progression of David’s reign.
What inevitably happens to those in power?
What is the good news?

Reflection: Who are the faithful around you? How can you encourage them and imitate their actions? How can you remain faithful in a world where so many practice vice more than virtue?
Prayer: Pray for leaders in your church and community to do what is right and in the right way.
Application: How is God calling you to serve? What will you do in response to his call?
For Further Study: James Boice’s careful and practical study on the Psalms can also be used for various group settings. Consider using it for your next Sunday school class or home Bible study. Pick up your copy of his three-volume paperback set, and receive 25% off the regular price.

Study Questions
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