Psalm 101:8
I will early destroy all the wicked of the land; that I may cut off all wicked doers from the city of the LORD.
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(8) Early.—Literally, in the morning: referring, as Perowne observes, to the Oriental custom of holding courts of law in the early morning (Jeremiah 21:12; 2Samuel 15:2; Luke 22:66; John 18:28).

City of the Lord.—For similar expressions, see Psalm 46:4; Psalm 48:2; Psalm 48:8. The city must bear out its name in its character.

Psalm 101:8. I will early destroy all the wicked — That is, all that are discovered and convicted; the law shall have its course against them; and incorrigible offenders shall suffer as it directs. That I may cut off all wicked doers from the city of the Lord — “I will use my utmost diligence to reform the whole nation; but especially the place of my peculiar residence, which ought to be an example to the rest of my kingdom: taking care that all offenders be severely punished in the courts of justice; and, if there be no other remedy, cutting off those evil members, who have got an incurable habit of acting wickedly.” So Bishop Patrick. Dr. Chandler considers this last clause as an evident proof that David was now king over all Israel, and in possession of Jerusalem, styled by him the city of the Lord, because it was now the place where the Lord was peculiarly present, David having lodged the ark in the tabernacle prepared there for its reception. It is justly observed by the same judicious divine, that “this Psalm affords an admirable lesson for princes, to direct themselves in the administration of their affairs in public and private life. They should be the patrons of religion and virtue, and encourage them by their own example and practice. Those of their households, their servants, ministers, and particularly their favourites and friends, should be of unblameable characters, and, if possible, eminent for every thing that is excellent and praiseworthy. Subtle and fraudulent men, back-biters, and slanderers, and private informers against others, they should detest, and show the utmost marks of displeasure at them. They should maintain the honour of the laws, and impartially punish all transgressors against them; and, instead of indulging ease, and being engrossed and dissipated by pleasure and amusement, they should consecrate a just portion of their time to the public service, and promoting the real happiness of their people. Thus they will be indeed truly patriot kings, honoured of God and esteemed and beloved of men.”

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.I will early destroy ... - Hebrew, "In the mornings I will destroy." That is, It shall be my first business as I enter upon the day. Possibly, also, by the use of the plural here - "in the mornings" - there may be the idea that this would be his constant rule of conduct: he would do it every day; he would do it morning by morning. He would on no day - at no time - allow the wicked to be in his service. This rule would be unvarying. It would extend through his life. The word "destroy" here may refer not only to his conduct as a man, and as the head of a family, but to the act of a magistrate; and the idea may be, that the rule which he prescribed for himself in his own house was a rule which he would carry with him into public: that is, as the psalm was composed by David, that, as a king and sovereign, it should be his aim to carry those principles to the throne; that, in respect to the state, he would do what he purposed to do in his home-relations. The strict and stern regard for truth, sincerity, honesty, fidelity, which he would evince in the one case he would evince in the other; carrying to the high employments of public life, where there were so many temptations to a contrary course, the inflexible virtues which were needful for peace, for happiness, and for success in domestic life.

That I may cut off - By discountenancing them; by punishing them if they are guilty.

All wicked doers - All violators of law.

From the city of the Lord - From Jerusalem, the place where God dwelt, and which was sacred to his service. See Psalm 46:4, note; Psalm 48:2, note; Psalm 48:8, note. Happy is the man at the head of a family - happy is the magistrate - who adopts for himself, and who faithfully carries out the principles laid down by the author of this psalm - divinely inspired to adopt such rules for himself, and to suggest them for others in all ages.

8. will early—or, "diligently."

city of the Lord—or, "holy place" (Ps 48:2), where wicked men shall not be tolerated.

Early; speedily, and without delay, as soon as I arise in the morning, or as soon as I am seated in the throne, that so I may both prevent all that mischief which otherwise they might do, and hinder the infection of others by their evil example, and discourage and deter all my subjects from the like practices. Heb. in the mornings, i.e. every morning, as the same phrase is used also, Job 7:18 Psalm 73:14 Isaiah 33:2. The morning was the time allotted for the exercise of judgment. See Jeremiah 21:12.

From the city of the Lord; either,

1. From Jerusalem, which, though now in the hands of the Jebusites, he looks upon by an eye of faith as if he had it in possession; which he designed for the chief and royal city of his kingdom, and for the seat of the ark and worship of God. And therefore this place above all others was to be purged and preserved from wickedness and wicked men. Or,

2. From the whole nation or commonwealth of Israel; for David did intend and was obliged to reform, not only that one city, but his whole kingdom, which also may come under the name of a city, as being combined and united under one government; for which reason the name of city is given both to the whole church of Christ, Isaiah 26:1 Hebrews 12:22 Revelation 20:9 and to the great anti-church, the kingdom of mystical Babylon, Revelation 11:8,17:18.

I will early destroy all the wicked of the land, Of the land of Israel, signifying that he would make a general reformation throughout the kingdom; that as soon as wicked men were discovered in any part of the land, he would cut them off, would take the first opportunity of punishing them as the law directs: or he would do it "in morning" (s), as in the Hebrew text; that is, every morning, constantly and continually;

(s) "in matutinis", Montanus, Vatablus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Cocceius; so Ainsworth.

{f} I will early destroy all the wicked of the land; that I may cut off all wicked doers from the city of the LORD.

(f) Magistrates must immediately punish vice, lest it grow to further inconvenience; and if heathen magistrates are bound to do this, how much more they who have the charge of the Church of God?

8. Morning by morning will I destroy all the wicked of the land;

That I may cut off all workers of iniquity from the city of Jehovah.

Day by day the king will hold his court of justice in the morning (2 Samuel 15:2; Jeremiah 21:12), that he may purge Jerusalem of evil and make it a holy city, worthy of its high title ‘the city of Jehovah.’ Cp. Psalm 46:4; Psalm 48:1; Psalm 48:8; Isaiah 1:26.

Verse 8. - I will early destroy all the wicked of the land; literally, each morn will I root out all the wicked of the land; i.e. "day after day I will make it my endeavour, not only to keep my palace free from evil doers, but to cleanse the whole land of them." David is determined to exercise that just severity which is a part of the duty of kings (Romans 13:4), and not to be that curse to a country - a weak and over-indulgent ruler (see Calvin, ad loc.). That I may cut off all wicked doers from the city of the Lord. So long as there were "wicked doers" in the land, they would be sure to flock to Jerusalem, since the capital always attracts the criminal classes. David is especially anxious that Jerusalem, which he has made "the city of the Lord" (2 Samuel 6:12-19), shall be kept free from the pollutions of evil doers, but, to effect this object, he must purge the whole land. The spirit breathed is that of Psalm 15:1-5.

Psalm 101:8This 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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