I will sing of your love and justice, Lord.
I will praise you with songs.
I will be careful to live a blameless life—
when will you come to help me?
I will lead a life of integrity in my own home.
I will refuse to look at anything vile and vulgar.
I hate all who deal crookedly;
I will have nothing to do with them.
I will reject perverse ideas and
stay away from every evil.
I will not tolerate people who slander their neighbors.
I will not endure conceit and pride.
I will search for faithful people to be my companions.
Only those who are above reproach
will be allowed to serve me.
I will not allow deceivers to serve in my house,
and liars will not stay in my presence.
My daily task will be to ferret out the wicked
and free the city of the Lord from their grip.
[Psalm 101 (NLT)]
Psalm 101 was probably written by David, possibly for his coronation. In it, the king vows to tolerate no evil in his kingdom and to live a life of holiness and obedience. Starting with his son Solomon, David’s psalm was used at other kings’ coronations. Because he spells out the essentials for first-rate godly management, pastor and Bible teacher Warren Wiersbe suggests we call this psalm “Leadership 101.” It is, indeed, an excellent plan both for virtuous living and good government. These lofty goals, however, were written by a man who didn’t live up to them and sung for other kings who couldn’t either. I can’t imagine this psalm being sung at the upcoming Presidential Inauguration but the new president (whoever that may be) probably won’t live up to them any better than did David, Solomon or the kings that followed them.
When he wrote the psalm, I’m sure David had every intention of walking in a way that pleased God. He never envisioned committing adultery with Bathsheba, murdering Uriah, having to deal with Amnon’s rape of Tamar, nor the family and political intrigue that comes with at least eight wives and nineteen sons. When sung at Solomon’s coronation, the new king was probably filled with good intentions and never pictured having a harem of 1000 or building pagan shrines for Chemosh or Molech, let alone worshipping those foreign gods. David and Solomon weren’t the only ones—even the Apostle Paul had difficulty putting his good intentions into practice. “When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. … What a wretched man I am!” he wrote in Romans 7.
High ideals, good intentions and lofty goals—if David, Solomon and Paul couldn’t live up to them, what chance is there for us? Certainly not much if we hope to do it on our own. Paul, however, gave us the answer in Romans 7 and 8: Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit.