The Book of Psalms

Thursday: Pattern for an Upright Administration


Theme: Vices to Be Rejected
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
As we saw yesterday, David, having affirmed the positive virtues in this psalm, also rejects the negatives. We have already looked at two vices suggested by these stanzas—faithless men and men of perverse heart—and continue with two more.
3. “Slander” (v. 5). Slander has to do with words, not actions, and is a reminder of how often in the psalms David, in particular, is concerned with the harmful, even deadly effects of words maliciously spoken. There must have been a great deal of this in David’s court in spite of his desire for high standards. It is true of all government circles.
4. “Haughty eyes and a proud heart” (v. 5). This is what we call arrogance. Arrogance is supposing that we are able to handle everything in life by ourselves without the help either of God or other people, that we are entirely self-sufficient. People today actually think highly of this characteristic. But it is a terrible vice, for it was the sin of Satan who thought he could take over the rule of the universe. In the study of Psalm 101 by Martin Luther, mentioned earlier, the reformer spends much time, almost the first quarter of his study, reminding government figures that nothing is accomplished apart from God and that no one should be arrogant about his or her own accomplishments or abilities. “Everything is a vain sham and deception if God is not in it,” wrote Luther.1
The vices listed in these verses are also mentioned in the psalm’s second half where David seems to be writing about evil “in the land” and not just “in my house,” meaning in the central government (see vv. 7, 8).
What David is saying in both sections is that he will neither encourage nor deal with such persons. On the contrary, he will “put to silence all the wicked in the land” and dismiss “every evildoer from the city of the LORD.” Why? Because he knew that standing for the right means nothing if the opposing evil is not opposed and rejected at the same time. He knew, as H. C. Leupold says, that “disavowal of evil men is as important as are the acceptance and acknowledgment of those who are true and upright.”2
Which brings us back to the positive again. We have been introduced to three administrative virtues: love, justice and upright behavior. They have been followed by four harmful vices: faithlessness, perversity, slander and arrogance. As far as those who practice such things are concerned, David says that it is his intention to drive them from his government and from any position of power or influence in the land. Yet that is not all. In place of those who are to be repudiated for their faithlessness, David writes that he also intends to seek out the faithful in the land: “My eyes will be on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me; he whose walk is blameless will minister to me.”
1Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, vol. 13, Selected Psalms II, ed. Jaroslav Pelikan (Saint Louis: Concordia, 1959), p. 148.
2H. C. Leupold, Exposition of the Psalms (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1969), p. 704.
Study Questions:

What two vices are suggested in verse 5?
What does the New Testament teach about these two vices?
Why is arrogance a particularly dangerous characteristic? How is it misrepresented in today’s culture?

Application: Are there areas in your life where you are particularly prone to slander or arrogance? Ask the Lord to make you spiritually sensitive to these occasions, and for the grace to repent.

Study Questions
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