Psalm 101:4
A froward heart shall depart from me: I will not know a wicked person.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(4) Froward.—See Note, Psalm 18:26.

101:1-8 David's vow and profession of godliness. - In this psalm we have David declaring how he intended to regulate his household, and to govern his kingdom, that he might stop wickedness, and encourage godliness. It is also applicable to private families, and is the householder's psalm. It teaches all that have any power, whether more or less, to use it so as to be a terror to evil-doers, and a praise to them that do well. The chosen subject of the psalm is God's mercy and judgment. The Lord's providences concerning his people are commonly mixed; mercy and judgment. God has set the one over against the other, both to do good, like showers and sunshine. When, in his providence, he exercises us with the mixture of mercy and judgment, we must make suitable acknowledgments to him for both. Family mercies and family afflictions are both calls to family religion. Those who are in public stations are not thereby excused from care in governing their families; they are the more concerned to set a good example of ruling their own houses well. Whenever a man has a house of his own, let him seek to have God to dwell with him; and those may expect his presence, who walk with a perfect heart, in a perfect way. David resolves to practise no evil himself. He further resolves not to keep bad servants, nor to employ those about him that are wicked. He will not admit them into his family, lest they spread the infection of sin. A froward heart, one that delights to be cross and perverse, is not fit for society, the bond of which is Christian love. Nor will he countenance slanderers, those who take pleasure in wounding their neighbour's reputation. Also, God resists the proud, and false, deceitful people, who scruple not to tell lies, or commit frauds. Let every one be zealous and diligent to reform his own heart and ways, and to do this early; ever mindful of that future, most awful morning, when the King of righteousness shall cut off all wicked doers from the heavenly Jerusalem.A froward heart shall depart from me - The word here rendered froward means perverse, false, deceitful, depraved. See the notes at Psalm 18:26. The "idea" here is that of one who is inclined to evil; who has some wrong passion or inclination to indulge; who has an obstinate and perverse will; who does not listen to reason or the voice of wise persuasion; who will do wrong, despite all the means which may be employed to induce him to do right. The language may either refer to the author of the psalm himself, as regulating his own conduct; or it may refer to those in his employ. In the former sense, it would mean that he would not himself be perverse and froward; in the latter sense, that he would not have such persons in his employ. The connection seems to require that we should understand it in the latter sense, as referring to the class of persons that the psalmist would have about him.

I will not know a wicked person - I will not countenance such a one; I will not recognize such a one among those who are admitted into my house, or own him as my friend; or, I will not have such in my employ. Probably the language embraces both these ideas - as it should in the case of all who are at the head of a family:

(a) I will not countenance or recognize as among my friends, who are to be admitted to my fireside and family, and who are to be familiar with me and my children, those who are profligate, wicked, and unprincipled, whatever may be their rank, their wealth, their accomplishments, their fascination of manner, or their power of conversation;

(b) I will have in my employ no one who is not honest, temperate, virtuous, pure. The welfare of a family depends more on the former of these things than the latter; no family can be well ordered where both are not found.

4. A froward heart—or, "perverse heart" (Ps 18:26). Such a temper I will not indulge, nor even know evil or wickedness. A froward heart; a man of a corrupt mind and wicked life, such as other princes choose and prefer, as being suitable to themselves, and to their wicked designs.

Shall depart from me; shall be turned out of my court, lest they should tempt me, or infect the rest of my family, or be injurious or scandalous to my people. I will not know, i.e. not own nor countenance.

A froward heart shall depart from me,.... A man of a froward heart, that devises frowardness in his heart, and speaks it out with his mouth; that which is perverse, and contrary to the law of God and Gospel of Christ, to the light of nature and the word of God; contrary to the sentiments of all good men, and repugnant to truth and good manners: such sort of persons are disagreeable companions, and good men would not choose to have anything to do with them; they are hateful to Christ, and shall be bid to depart from him; see Proverbs 8:13.

I will not know a wicked person: so as to be familiar with him, or show him any respect; have any affection for him, or take any notice of him; such Christ will not know at the great day, Matthew 7:23, or "I will not know wickedness" (l), or any wicked work and action, approve of it, love it, delight in it, and do it: the Targum interprets it of the evil concupiscence, corruption of nature, or indwelling sin, which is hated by the believer, Romans 7:15 and is utterly unknown to Christ; he was not conscious of it; he knew no sin, 2 Corinthians 5:21 original or actual; he had no sin in him, nor was any done by him, or, it may be, mention is made of the morning, because that was the usual time of hearing and judging causes, Jeremiah 21:12, or this may have respect to the spiritual reign of Christ, whose coming will be as the morning; when the Heathens shall perish out of his land, when sinners shall be consumed out of the earth, and the wicked shall be no more, and he will destroy them that destroy the earth, Psalm 10:16. The Targum agrees with this,

"in the world to come, which is like to the light of the morning, I will destroy all the wicked of the earth:''

that I may cut off all wicked doers from the city of the Lord; from the city of Jerusalem, as the Targum and Kimchi interpret it; and it may be understood of the church of God, in the spiritual reign of Christ, into which shall enter no more the uncircumcised and the unclean; and all that offend and do iniquity shall be gathered out of it, Isaiah 52:1 or of the New Jerusalem church state, in the personal reign of Christ, into which no wicked doers will be admitted, but will remain for ever without, Revelation 21:27.

(l) "malum hominem sive opus", Gejerus, Michaelis.

A froward heart shall depart from me: I will not know a wicked person.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
4. The Psalmist is still speaking of himself. All crookedness and perversity shall be banished from his heart, he will not consciously tolerate evil there. Render the second line, Evil I will not know. With 4 a and 2 b cp. Proverbs 11:20.

froward] Lit. crooked. Cp. Proverbs 11:20.

Verse 4. - A froward heart shall depart from me; i.e. I will put away from me all perversity of heart; I will root it out and rid myself of it. I will not know a wicked person. This is a possible meaning, but it is better to translate, with our Revisers, "I will know no evil thing." The "principles of private conduct" may be summed up under the four heads of

(1) devotion;

(2) endeavour after perfectness;

(3) avoidance of evil;

(4) hatred of it. Psalm 101:4This is the "prince's Psalm,"

(Note: Eyring, in his Vita of Ernest the Pious Duke of Saxe-Gotha, v. 1601, d. 1675, relates that he sent an unfaithful minister a copy of the 101st Psalm, and that it became a proverb in the country, when an official had done anything wrong: He will certainty soon receive the prince's Psalm to read.)

or as it is inscribed in Luther's version, "David's mirror of a monarch." Can there be any more appropriate motto for it than what is said of Jahve's government in Psalm 99:4? In respect of this passage of Psalm 99:1-9, to which Psalm 100:1-5 is the finale, Psalm 101:1-8 seems to be appended as an echo out of the heart of David. The appropriateness of the words לדוד מזמור (the position of the words is as in Psalm 24:1-10; 40; 109:1-110:7; 139) is corroborated by the form and contents. Probably the great historical work from which the chronicler has taken excerpts furnished the post-exilic collector with a further gleaning of Davidic songs, or at least songs that were ascribed to David. The Psalm before us belongs to the time during which the Ark was in the house of Obed-Edom, where David had left it behind through terror at the misfortune of Uzzah. David said at that time: "How shall the Ark of Jahve come to me (the unholy one)?" 2 Samuel 6:8. He did not venture to bring the Ark of the Fearful and Holy One within the range of his own house. In our Psalm, however, he gives utterance to his determination as king to give earnest heed to the sanctity of his walk, of his rule, and of his house; and this resolve he brings before Jahve as a vow, to whom, in regard to the rich blessing which the Ark of God diffuses around it (2 Samuel 6:11.), he longingly sighs: "When wilt Thou come to me?!" This contemporaneous reference has been recognised by Hammond and Venema. From the fact that Jahve comes to David, Jerusalem becomes "the city of Jahve," Psalm 101:8; and to defend the holiness of this the city of His habitation in all faithfulness, and with all his might, is the thing to which David here pledges himself.

The contents of the first verse refer not merely to the Psalm that follows as an announcement of its theme, but to David's whole life: graciousness and right, the self-manifestations united ideally and, for the king who governs His people, typically in Jahve, shall be the subject of his song. Jahve, the primal source of graciousness and of right, it shall be, to whom he consecrates his poetic talent, as also his playing upon the harp. חסד is condescension which flows from the principle of free love, and משׁפּט legality which binds itself impartially and uncapriciously to the rule (norm) of that which is right and good. They are two modes of conduct, mutually tempering each other, which God requires of every man (Micah 6:8, cf. Matthew 23:23 : τὴν κρίσιν καὶ τὸν ἔλεον), and more especially of a king. Further, he has resolved to give heed, thoughtfully and with an endeavour to pursue it (השׂכּיל בּ as in Daniel 9:13), unto the way of that which is perfect, i.e., blameless. What is further said might now be rendered as a relative clause: when Thou comest to me. But not until then?! Hitzig renders it differently: I will take up the lot of the just when it comes to me, i.e., as often as it is brought to my knowledge. But if this had been the meaning, בּדבר would have been said instead of בּדרך (Exodus 18:16, Exodus 18:19; 2 Samuel 19:12 [11]); for, according to both its parts, the expression דוך תמים is an ethical notion, and is therefore not used in a different sense from that in Psalm 101:6. Moreover, the relative use of the interrogative מתי in Hebrew cannot be supported, with the exception, perhaps, of Proverbs 23:35. Athanasius correctly interprets: ποθῶ σου τὴν παρουσίαν, ὦ δέσποτα, ἱμείρομαί σου τῆς ἐπιφανείας, ἀλλὰ δὸς τὸ ποθούμενον. It is a question of strong yearning: when wilt Thou come to me? is the time near at hand when Thou wilt erect Thy throne near to me? If his longing should be fulfilled, David is resolved to, and will then, behave himself as he further sets forth in the vows he makes. He pledges himself to walk within his house, i.e., his palace, in the innocence or simplicity of his heart (Psalm 78:72; Proverbs 20:7), without allowing himself to be led away from this frame of mind which has become his through grace. He will not set before his eyes, viz., as a proposition or purpose (Deuteronomy 15:9; Exodus 10:10; 1 Samuel 29:10, lxx), any morally worthless or vile matter whatsoever (Psalm 41:8, cf. concerning בליּעל, Psalm 18:5). The commission of excesses he hates: עשׂה is infin. constr. instead of עשׂות as in Genesis 31:28; Genesis 50:20; Proverbs 21:3, cf. ראה Genesis 48:11, שׁתו Proverbs 31:4. סטים (like שׂטים in Hosea 5:2), as the object of עשׂה, has not a personal (Kimchi, Ewald) signification (cf. on the other hand Psalm 40:5), but material signification: (facta) declinantia (like זדים, Psalm 19:13, insolentia; הבלים, Zechariah 11:7, vincientia); all temptations and incitements of this sort he shakes off from himself, so that nothing of the kind cleaves to him. The confessions in Psalm 101:4 refer to his own inward nature: לב עקּשׁ (not עקּשׁ־לב, Proverbs 17:20), a false heart that is not faithful in its intentions either to God or to men, shall remain far from him; wickedness (רע as in Psalm 36:5) he does not wish to know, i.e., does not wish to foster and nurture within him. Whoso secretly slanders his neighbour, him will he destroy; it will therefore be so little possible for any to curry favour with him by uncharitable perfidious tale-bearing, of the wiliness of which David himself had had abundant experience in his relation to Saul, that it will rather call forth his anger upon him (Proverbs 30:10). Instead of the regularly pointed מלושׁני the Ker reads מלשׁני, melŏshnı̂, a Poel (לשׁן linguâ petere, like עין oculo petere, elsewhere הלשׁין, Proverbs 30:10) with ŏ instead of ō (vid., on Psalm 109:10; Psalm 62:4) and with Chirek compaginis (vid., on Psalm 113:1-9). The "lofty of eyes," i.e., supercilious, haughty, and the "broad of heart," i.e., boastful, puffed up, self-conceited (Proverbs 28:25, cf. Psalm 21:4), him he cannot endure (אוּכל, properly fut. Hoph., I am incapable of, viz., לשׂאת, which is to be supplied as in Isaiah 1:13, after Proverbs 30:21; Jeremiah 44:22).

(Note: In both instances the Masora writes אותו (plene), but the Talmud, B. Erachin 15b, had אתו before it when it says: "Of the slanderer God says: I and he cannot dwell together in the world, I cannot bear it any longer with him (אתּו).")

On the other hand, his eyes rest upon the faithful of the land, with the view, viz., of drawing them into his vicinity. Whoso walks in the way of uprightness, he shall serve him (שׁרת, θεραπεύειν, akin to עבד, δουλεύειν). He who practises deceit shall not stay within his house; he who speaks lies shall have no continuance (יכּון is more than equivalent to נכון) before (under) his eyes. Every morning (לבּקרים as in Psalm 73:14; Isaiah 33:2; Lamentations 3:23, and לבקרים, Job 7:18), when Jahve shall have taken up His abode in Jerusalem, will he destroy all evil-doers (רשׁעי as in Psalm 119:119), i.e., incorrigibly wicked ones, wherever he may meet them upon the earth, in order that all workers of evil may be rooted out of the royal city, which is now become the city of Jahve.

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