Psalm 101:1

The psalm is evidently one composed on the occasion of the setting up of a new order of things in the home or in the State, or in both, and it tells of the psalmist's holy resolves in regard to himself, and his conduct in his household and amongst men generally. And they are wise resolves.

I. THEY CONCERN HIMSELF. (Ver. 2.) "I wilt behave myself," etc. Here we must begin if our life is to be worthy and happy. Therefore:

1. The psalmist consider his ways. He will behave himself wisely. It was not enough that he had full and clear knowledge, and frequent good purposes and desires, and just opinions and true beliefs; what he was concerned about was as to his conduct, his behaviour. And that is the all-important thing; the others have their value as they influence that.

2. And his desire and purpose were that he should behave himself "wisely." In what vast and such variety of ways men - especially those in high station - behave themselves! "Man, vain man, dressed in a little brief authority," etc. But here was one who would sink mere self-pleasing, and the suggestions of pride and power which his high station would bring to his mind, and, like Solomon, his one desire was to behave himself wisely.

3. And his conviction was that the way of righteousness, the perfect way, was alone the way of wisdom.

4. And that for all this he needed the abiding presence and blessing of God. "Oh when wilt thou come," etc.? (ver. 1). Surely this man began well!

II. HIS HOME LIFE. "I will walk within my house," etc. He would "show piety at home." If it be not there, it does not matter where else it is. There, where it is more difficult, because we are more off our guard, and contact with wife, children, servants, is so close that there is more peril of friction and irritation than in the more distant and guarded intercourse with the world outside. A man has need of "a perfect heart," upright, faithful, and true, if his home life is to be what it should be.

III. HIS DEALINGS WITH HIS FELLOW MEN. He divides these into three classes:

1. Those whom he will avoid. They are the froward, the slanderer, the proud, the deceitful. Woe to the man whose companions are of such a sort! sorrow and shame will be his lot.

2. Those whom he will choose. "The faithful of the land;" they who walk with God. Such companions and servants do minister much to our peace and happiness.

3. Those for whom he will have no tolerance. The wicked doers. Kindness to them, whilst they persist in wickedness, is cruelty and wrong to the innocent, the godly, and to the city of the Lord. "Ye that love the Lord, hate evil" - so we are told (Psalm 97:10). And, indeed, if there be not such intolerance, it is because the love of God is weak within us (cf. Revelation 2:6, 15). The psalmist may have meant by "cutting off" the putting of them to death. A monarch such as David would have deemed that quite right. But it is a power too great for human hands to wield. Our part will be to cut off the prompters to sin in our own hearts, to slay evil passions and unholy desires there; then, by earnestly seeking the conversion of the ungodly, to cut them off from their sin. - S.C.

The Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting; and His truth endureth to all generations.
I. AN IMPORTANT STATEMENT. "The Lord is good." All we see around us confirms this glorious truth. Nothing has left His hand without partaking, directly or more remotely, of His perfection; and the more deeply we contemplate the produce of His creative skill, the more accurately we track the wheels of His providence, and the more carefully we ponder the economy of His grace, the more enlarged will be our hearts, the louder our song, as we adopt the statement of the text.

II. AN ENCOURAGING DOCTRINE. "His mercy is everlasting." Such is the uniform tenor of the announcements and declarations of the Divine Word.

1. His mercy is "from everlasting" in its source. If we look backward that we may be able to tell the period, in the past, when mercy took its rise in the heart of the Almighty, we shall find that before duration began to be measured by revolving seasons, the "Father of mercies" hath "delighted in mercy."

2. It is "to everlasting," in its efficacy; so that, casting the eye forward, in order to discern the length of its duration for time to come, we are lost as we contemplate it, flowing on in its effects through the amazing circle of eternity, even after the apocalyptic angel shall have proclaimed, that "time shall be no longer."

III. A STRONG ATTESTATION OF HIS FAITHFULNESS, IN CONNECTION BOTH WITH HIS GOODNESS AND HIS MERCY. "His truth endureth to all generations." If we regard this portion of the text as an appeal to the display of the perfections already mentioned, in times gone by, then it will carry us back, in our contemplations, to His dealings with His people of old. And here time would fail us to speak of the various examples of the Divine goodness and mercy on record, from the moment when the voice of mercy was heard in the garden of Eden, to the present hour. From these considerations may we gather confidence, that this "goodness and mercy" shall not fail us, neither the generations yet to come. Conclusion: —

1. Admire the condescension of God, in thus displaying His goodness and mercy around us, and in our behalf.

2. Examine yourselves, whether you have a personal interest in the truths that have now been stated.

3. Be grateful to the Divine Being, for the character in which He has thus revealed Himself.

(John Gaskin, M. A.)

His truth endureth to all generations

1. He is true in His very nature. Falsehood is the wickedness — I dare not call it the infirmity — the wickedness of little natures; but as for the Great Supreme, you cannot conceive Him acting in any manner that is otherwise than straightforward, upright, and truthful. A God of truth and righteousness is He essentially. He must be so.

2. The Lord our God is not only true in His nature, but He is true to His nature. You never find Him doing anything that is not godlike. Select the acts of His creation. If He makes an aphis to creep upon a rosebud, you will find traces of infinite wisdom in it: you shall submit the insect to the microscope end discern a wisdom in it as glorious as that which shines in yonder rolling stars. If in providence some minor event comes under your notice, in that event you shall find no deviation from the constant rule of right and love by which the Most High characterizes all His doings. There are no emergencies with God in which He could be driven to an act of untruth; no pressures, no difficulties, no infirmities which could produce falsehood in Him. "I am Jehovah: I change not," saith He.

3. He is true in action. The covenant of grace has many promises in it, but not one of them has failed. As on Christ's side the covenant was kept by His death, so on the Father's side the covenant has been kept by the salvation of those whom Jesus redeemed from among inert when He gave Himself a ransom for many.

4. He is true to His promises.

5. He is true in every relation that He sustains.


1. He has been true in the past. All history, sacred and profane, goes to prove that.

2. God is true still. All things are moving according to the decree of goodness and wisdom, and you must not doubt it. Like Jacob, you sometimes say, "All these things are against me"; but they are not, they are all for you. God is ordering all for the best.

3. God will be true. I do not know how far we have to go before we shall reach to our journey's end; but this I know, the whole of the road that we have to travel is paved with love and faithfulness, and we need not be afraid.

( C. H. Spurgeon.).

I will sing of mercy and judgment.
This psalm depicts one man in two characters, one comparatively good, the other comparatively evil. Such a man is a fair type of the race.

I. The character of a SAINT. He is full of good resolutions —

1. In relation to his conduct towards God (ver. 1). A lofty theme for song — kindness and justice.

2. In relation to his conduct towards self (ver. 2). He determined to exercise over himself a wise control, to act not from passion or impulse, but from principles, and from principles that were rational and just.

3. In relation to his conduct towards his household (vers. 4-7).

4. In relation to his conduct towards his country (ver. 6).

II. The character of a DESPOT (ver. 8). Here the man assumes the prerogative that belongs to God and God only. Were all kings to act upon this resolution the world would soon be depopulated, for how few there are amongst the millions of the race who are not wicked!


This resolution indicates a hopeful and happy state of mind. A song is the natural channel for the outflow of gladness (James 5:18).

I. TO WHOM HE SINGS. Conscious nearness to God, and exuberant joyfulness of spirit, come together here. These two do not always go together: very often when they are brought near, they mutually destroy each other, like fire and water. Apart from regeneration and reconciling, you may have one of these two in human experience, but not both. In the multitude of his thoughts within him, an unconverted man may be brought, and for a time kept, consciously near the Holy One; but then there are great sadness and grief in his heart: or an unconverted man may experience great joy; but then he has turned away from God. You may bring such a man to the Lord; but as long as he is there, he has no song: or you may give him a song; but while he is singing, he has put God out of all his thoughts. To turn to the Lords and in that attitude to sing for joy, belongs to the children — to those who have been made nigh by the blood of Christ, and are accepted in the Beloved.

II. THE PSALM THAT HE SUNG. "Mercy and judgment" are the two sides of the Divine character, as revealed by God, and apprehended by men. They are the two attributes which lie over against each other, for conflict or in harmony, according to the conditions in which they are exercised, or the point from which they are viewed. A song cannot be constructed out of justice or mercy separately. Neither can they become the subjects of praise, if they meet in mere conflict to neutralize or destroy each other. It is not that God is less just because He is also merciful, and less merciful because He has undertaken to be just. When these two meet in the eternal covenant, they kiss each other. Justice is greater because mercy meets it: mercy is greater because justice is satisfied and assents. Justice is made more just because mercy keeps it company: mercy becomes more merciful in presence of a righteousness that never bends. They so meet as to support each other. This union takes places in Christ crucified. In Him the promises of God are yea and amen. We are saved, because Christ our passover was sacrificed for us. It is a song that is needed now, this song to the Lord — a song about mercy and judgment, from the ranks of the redeemed. For their own comfort this is needed; for the honour of God, and as a witness to the world.

(W. Arnot.)


1. Freeness.

2. Fulness.

3. Greatness.

4. Seasonableness.

5. Permanency.


1. You are not required, properly speaking, to bless God for your afflictions themselves. No; afflictions are in themselves evils; the effects of sin. But, through the overruling providence of God, they may be made the means to take away sin; and Christians are required, not only to be submissive under their sufferings, but to acquiesce in the will of God concerning them.

2. There are views to be taken of your afflictions which will allow, yea, require even, your thanksgiving and praise.(1) The nature of them. They are not the inflictions of the judge, but the chastisements of the Father.(2) Their brevity. What is time to eternity, and what is our life to time itself? But frequently your trials are much shorter than life.(3) Their judiciousness. There is nothing casual in them.(4) Their alleviation. If you would "sing of mercy and judgment," you must dwell upon the blessings you still enjoy, as well as upon those of which you have been deprived; you must look upon the bright side, and not be always gazing on the dark.(5) Their usefulness. If the vine had reason it would thank the vinedresser for the use of the knife by which it was pruned, and made to bring forth more fruit; and if the ground had reason it would bless God for the ploughshare which breaks up the fallow. I never knew a man converted to God by gaining a fortune, but I have known more than one converted to God by losing one.

(W. Jay.)


1. In the work of redemption.

2. In the general course of providential dispensation towards the world.

3. In the Divine action towards the Church.

4. In the lines of our household and individual history.


1. The discovery made by the variety in question of the Divine character is of itself enough to make us sing to the Lord with delighted heartiness.

2. The disciplinary development of our own moral and religious character thereby promoted.

(1)There is the way in which such dispensations operate in subduing our corruptions.

(2)The same thing operates in exercising our graces.

(3)The dispensation of mercy and judgment operates in the way of leading us to exercise a more abiding dependence upon the Lord Himself.

(4)This vicissitude of dispensation still further operates in the way of preparing us for a condition of unmingled enjoyment in a better world.

(E. A. Thomson.)


1. What is it? Goodness and kindness to the undeserving.

2. What is there in mercy, of which we ought to sing?

(1)The marvellousness of its origin.

(2)The expensiveness of its sacrifices.

(3)The abundance of its blessings.

(4)Its universality and freeness.

(5)As to other special distinctions of mercy.Its length — from eternity to eternity. Its height, — higher than the heavens, and above the clouds. Its perpetuity — it endureth for ever. Besides, it is said to be strong, rich, tender, faithful; and above all, God Himself delighteth in it. What a theme then for holy contemplation and joyous song.

II. JUDGMENT. This may mean —

1. God's righteousness.

2. God's law.

3. God's wrath.

4. God's chastening dispensations.

(1)Their wise administration.

(2)The tenderness of their application.

(3)The supports He gives with them.

(4)The great ends His judgments are to accomplish.Conclusion.

1. Have we not a keynote which ought to suit every heart and voice?

2. The advantages of this joyous course will be many. It will lighten the load of sorrow. It will sweeten the bitter potion. It will while away the dreary hour. It will exhilarate the oppressed and fainting heart. It will, by a kind of divine chemistry, bring new elements of health and comfort out of nauseous medicines. It will cheer the soul, honour religion, glorify your Father, and aid greatly in your spiritual and upward flight to the land of eternal joy and everlasting glory.

3. May some now learn to sing the Lord's song in a strange land.

4. Sing on the way to heaven, in the expectation of singing there, for ever and ever.

(J. Burns, D.D.)


1. Mercy designed from everlasting.

2. Mercy revealed.

3. Mercy applied.

4. Mercy secured in the covenant of grace.

II. THE JUDGMENTS OF WHICH HE MAY HAVE REASON TO SING. Christian, have you not reason to sing of the judgments which attended your conversion? Did not your terrors and alarms divest you of self-righteousness, and deepen your feeling of the detestable nature of sin? Did they not endear the Saviour to you, when He stilled the tempest and spake peace? And judgments of one kind or other will mark our progress through this wilderness. We cannot bear the continual sunshine of prosperity. It is only in heaven that our sun will never go down; but it is only in the perfection of heaven that we can endure its perpetual brightness.

(Carus Wilson, M.A.)

The mercies of God are new every morning, and are renewed every evening. Think of His redeeming mercies, who spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all. Think of His sparing mercies when thousands have gone from this great metropolis in that last influenza epidemic. Think of His patience, with you, that while He spared your soul your behaviour has been so far short of what it should have been, if you had done your best. Think of your spiritual privileges, think of these precious Sabbaths, this open Book, this welcome home, with its fellow-disciples and warm hearts, and the Father's smile to greet His children when they come. Think of God's providential mercies from the cradle to this hour; how He has kept you still in life, rescuing you from more perils than you ever dreamt of. How He has replenished your basket; how He has filled your cupboard. Mercies! let your mind dwell on them. Surely, like David, we should say this morning, "I will sing, I will sing of mercy." Then let us gel on a little further. "I will sing of mercy and judgment." Ah! that is a different thing. How can I sing with a choking in my throat? I can sing with the lark in the times of sunrise, but to sing in the night when the wind moans, when the owl hoots, and the bat flits through the shadows of the evening; to sing when the lights are gone, the fruit has fallen, when the icy wind nips me to the marrow, and the snow is falling heavy on a winter's day, to sing then, when God's hand is heavy upon me! Like Hezekiah I can roar; or I can hold my peace, because God did it. But to sing, to sing a night song, a winter's song, a sorrow psalm, surely that can never be! And yet here it is, "I will sing of mercy and of judgment." I find that David is not by any means alone in it. I turn me to the grand old patriarch Job, and in the day of his affliction I hear from his lips that snatch of heavenly music which we have heard so often at the graveside: "The Lord gave," etc. I turn to the Apostle Paul, and as he is manacled and chained in the dungeon with lacerated feet, I hear them singing praise to God, and that with such gusto that their songs betray them, and the whole of the prison wonders how such a song can be sung there. And so this man David sings of judgment, "It was good for me to be afflicted." "Who giveth me songs in the night." "I will praise the Lord in the fire, and in the night-time His song shall be with me." These are patterns, so you see it can be done. Not only so, but you will find that the Church's richest, sweetest, and most excellent songs of all are those which have been sung in the fire of suffering, wrung out from their lives. I call to mind the beautiful story of the days when martyrs burned. When one poor old man was tied to the stake, as soon as the flames began to rise, he bared his white head and sang the "To Deum," that matchless song of praise. Hark! "The noble army of martyrs praise Thee." And hark again, "When Thou hadst overcome the sharpness of death, Thou didst open the kingdom of heaven to all believers." "I will sing of mercy and of judgment." Another martyr, a woman, when the fire began to crack round her, sang the "Magnificat." Surely never was sweeter song sung by woman's lips as she sang "My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. He that is mighty hath done great things for me." For her, poor creature, in the flames, He hath done great things for me. He has exalted her of low degree. And then the royal robes were put on, sad a still more glorious Magnificat sounds from her lips on high. I ask you to look at the conjunction of mercy and judgment as a reason why you should sing. This blending of sorrow and joy, this admixture of sorrow and peace. See if you cannot find ground for singing, for singing loud. Not that you sing enough, even on the mercy side. But see if you cannot find how we do need judgment to keep us humble, and watchful, and pure. How greatly we need mercy in its turn to make us hopeful, to nerve our efforts, assure our hearts, and sustain our patience. We need both the rod and the staff. "Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me." Why the rod? That tells of expectation of correction, does it not? The staff! why, that means support, help, and strength, as you walk along. You don't like the rod, but God knows things better than we do. Do not forget that the judgments are not the applications of a judge. We get above all that. They are not the carrying out of a sentence. No strokes of vengeance. They are the medicines of the soul. They are tonic if the believer's heart is right with his God. The cross is love; on the cross is love. I need not tell you that grace is the key that opens all the treasure that God has for you. Another thing to think about is the duration of these judgments. That we are to sing of these judgments, to think of their profit even if they last a lifetime. This is but the school time. Do you know how Paul puts it? "These light afflictions which are but for a moment." Still they bowed his head for him. Sorrow endures for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.

(J. J. Wray.)

Never shall I forget the terrible sublimity of the scene around me, when in the heart of the icy solitudes of the Alps, in the innermost shrine of one of nature's most stupendous temples, amid stupendous precipices, lofty spires of rock, towering domes of everlasting snow. But the scene that struck me most in the landscape was the glaciers, which filled with their rigid, ghastly masses every gorge around. Amid these was a bright little garden of Alpine flowers, blooming on the very borders of the ice, which eloquently spoke to me of the greatness and goodness of the Creator, the life and death, the joy and sorrow, the blight that destroys, and the blessing that renews, are so mysteriously blent on this earth of ours. On the one hand the glaciers were grinding down the mountains, and the Alpine flowers were healing scars which she inflicted. The terrible majesty and love of God, His mercy and judgment were there, as they ever are, if we could only see it, side by side.

(Hugh Macmillan, D. D.)

Some people seem never to have any serious thought of life. They think only of amusement, and never get beyond the airy surface of things. But to one who thinks deeply life is not all a round of empty pleasure. A traveller who tarried at Antwerp describes the effect which the bells in the great tower had upon him. Every quarter-hour they rang out on the air their sweet notes, in soft melody, which fell like a delicious rain of music dropping from the heavens. Then at the full hour, amid their shower of liquid notes of silver, there rang out the solemn strokes of the great bell, with iron tongue, deep and heavy; and these heavy tones filled him with a feeling of awe. As he listened, hour after hour, go the chimes, the tender melody of the smaller, sweeter bells reminded him of the mercy and love of God, and the solemn undertones that broke on his ear at the end of each full hour spoke of the awful themes of justice, judgment, eternity. So it is that every thoughtful person is impressed in reading the Scriptures. Their usual tone is mercy. Love rings everywhere, like the notes of angels' songs. But here and there, amid the words of Divine tenderness, comes some deep note telling of justice, of wrath against sin, of the awful Judgment Day. It is the same in life. The flow of the common day is gladness. There is music everywhere. Flowers bloom. Love lights its lamp in our path. Then suddenly there breaks in, amid the merry laughter, a tone, deep and solemn, which fills us with awe. Life is not all gaiety. Even now its undertone is serious. We should be thoughtful. Eternity lies close to time. The momentous things of judgment are hidden only by a thin veil of mist.

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