Life Theology

Psalm 101 and Jesus

“A PSALM OF DAVID” means this is a royal psalm, a psalm about the place of the Davidic monarchy in God’s plan for his people. David writes about his commitment to faithful living before the Lord (vv. 1-4). David is to be the righteous one par excellence for the people of God. As king, David can proclaim that he “will not endure” those who have a “haughty look and an arrogant heart.” As king, David can say he will “look with favor on the faith in the land.” As king, David can say that “no one who practices deceit shall dwell in my house” and “no one who utters lies shall continue before my eyes.” As king, David can say that he “will destroy the wicked in the land” and cut them off from God’s city. As king, David is not only supposed to lead the way toward righteousness, but he is to punish all those who do not follow in his righteousness.

The problem with this is that we all know David was not perfect. The problem is that David slept with Bathsheba and killed her husband to get away with it. The problem is that David sinned in ways other than the issue with Bathsheba. In other words, David was not the righteous king par excellence. In fact, if he was not king and the leader of God’s covenant people, he would have been thrown out with the wicked. God’s anointing was on him, warts and all, but he pointed to something greater.

Psalm 101 must be pointing toward someone who can be the righteous king par excellence for God’s people. The only who accomplished perfect righteousness before the Father was the Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus perfectly sang of steadfast love and justice on the cross. He is the only one who has pondered the way that is blameless and walked with integrity. He is the only one who has not set his eyes on something worthless. He is the only one whose heart has never been perverse and has not known evil. He was never haughty or arrogant, and deceit was never found in his mouth. Therefore Jesus, the righteous king par excellence, is the only one who can continue before the eyes of his Father. All else have been cast out the land. Jesus is the only one who remains, the remnant of God’s people who did not fall away.

This perfect, blameless King knew no sin, yet he became sin for God’s people so that in him they might become the righteousness of God (see 1 Cor. 5:21). We are welcomed into God’s city because of him. We are welcomed in by the righteousness of another, not our own righteousness. We can leave Psalm 101 saying, “I will do this today! I will have integrity and be blameless!” But chances are we will lie a half hour later. Chances are we will be able to be blamed for something else very soon. But if our righteousness is in Christ the King par excellence–if our record is actually his record in the Father’s eyes–then not only can we be we not be blamed, we are freed from the oppressive nature of trying to fulfill God’s law. Rather, because we are saved by grace, because of our Representative and Substitute, we are motived and empowered by the Spirit to uphold the law and seek to live in a way that would honor God. Yet when we fail, we go back to Christ, who died on the cross for our sins, giving up his heavenly crown to wear a crown of thorns. We revel in this and also in his perfect life as the record we need in order to be welcomed into God’s city. In fact, Christ was cast outside the city gates and crucified there, so that we might be welcomed in, not on our merit, but because of his.