In The Ring: Neighboring (Psalm 101)

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A few of our members are moving this summer (Bello & Smith local / Smitherman CT). If you have ever searched for a new house, you know the challenges and stress that brings families.

  • Does the kitchen and bathrooms need repaired?
  • Almost automatic to replace carpet.
  • How old are the appliances: hvac, stove, fridge, wash/dryer?
  • Are there any cracks in the foundation?
  • Have you inspected for termites or other unwanted animals?
  • Does the house front have good curb appeal?
  • Is the house located in a solid school district?
  • What is required with the HOA?
  • Who are the neighbors?
    • Also consider the fact that those neighbors are also curious of who is moving into the neighborhood!

While there are many good questions we should ask about purchasing or constructing a home, this last question is also essential. What makes a house a home is not just the inside décor or the outside landscape, but the surrounding community. Families need personal faith and communal support.

We started our series with a text in the book of Proverbs. It was stated that Proverbs is about relational wisdom between a father and son and royal instruction of a king to his nation. If we want a great nation, we must grow godly generations. We can have all kinds of talk about voting people in office, legislating policy, and appointing leaders and judges. Yet, nation building does not start at the White House or courthouse, but in the neighborhood homes and individual hearts.

Today, our message series “In The Ring” reflects on the importance of neighboring from Psalm 101. Neighboring is the practice of putting others first, and our nation desperately needs this. Yet, we cannot pass on what we do not posses or practice on our own. Therefore, this psalm provides us 3 practices to enhance our neighboring.

Nation building does not start at the White House or courthouse, but in the neighborhood homes and individual hearts. Neighboring is the practice of putting others first, and our nation desperately needs this.

Charles Spurgeon called this psalm “The Householder’s Psalm.”[1] In other words, if every home practiced the principles in this psalm, there would be blessing in the home and nation.

We also know that this psalm was A Psalm of David, and that while David expressed these principles, he failed to fully exemplify them. We can be tempted to call David a hypocrite rather than a man after God’s own heart. People like to accuse Christians as hypocrites and judgmental. Little do they realize they have established their own hypocrisy and condemnation. The reality is everyone falls short and is an imperfect being. A hypocrite is not someone who has a high standard but a double standard. In other words, it is right and good to have moral values and hold others accountable. It is wrong and duplicitous to have a standard for others and a different standard for oneself. David was a man after God’s heart, not because he was perfect but because he persevered in his faith and love for the Lord.

EXAMINE               Psalm 101              A Psalm of David

1 I will sing of steadfast love and justice; to you, O LORD, I will make music.
2  I will ponder the way that is blameless. Oh when will you come to me? I will walk with integrity of heart within my house;
3  I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me.
4  A perverse heart shall be far from me; I will know nothing of evil.
5  Whoever slanders his neighbor secretly I will destroy. Whoever has a haughty look and an arrogant heart I will not endure.
6  I will look with favor on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me; he who walks in the way that is blameless shall minister to me.
7  No one who practices deceit shall dwell in my house; no one who utters lies shall continue before my eyes.
8  Morning by morning I will destroy all the wicked in the land, cutting off all the evildoers from the city of the LORD.

Psalm 101 has 9 “I will” statements, reflecting the kind of person and prince God wants him to become.[2] Therefore, to be a good neighbor, we must make the following 3 commitments:

I will persevere in my spiritual commitments.

God made us to worship. We worship with our life in our beliefs and behaviors. As a church, we have a full doctrinal statement that describes what we believe and expectations for how those shape how we behave. We not only worship with our life but also our lips. Our lips speak to build up, as well as sing praise to God.

It was said about Martin Luther that his reformation of a nation, and really the world, was accomplished not just from his writing sermons but songs.[3]

  • Spend time with children to see memorization multiply learning.
  • Spend time among senior-aged saints who have forgotten events and happenings but remember songs.

There are fewer acts that are personally transforming and publicly inspiring than singing to the glory of God.    

The psalmist affirms this saying: 1 I will sing of steadfast love and justice; to you, O LORD, I will make music. David sings of God’s steadfast love and justice – or more literally it’s “kheh’-sed” and “mish-pat’” I sing to God. The emphasis is on God with mercy and justice as complementary features of God’s charsacter.

  • Consider when a violent crime occurs the victims immediately want justice, while the offender pleads for mercy.
  • If neither receives what they desire an uproar occurs.
  • Yet, God perfectly blends mercy & justice.

The past week our family attended 3 school chorus concerns: 2 MS & 1 HS. What stuck out is the heart and soul of students singing. They sang likely for their grade, but also because they enjoyed sharing music with classmates, family, and friends. The purpose of singing is not to hear one’s own voice but to give voice to our very being.

  • Ps 139:13-14 “For you (God) created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I PRAISE YOU because I am awesomely and wonderfully made.”
  • Ps 98:4-9 “Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music… with harp and trumpet and the sound of singing… Let the sea… and world resound… Let the rivers clap their hands, let the mountains sing together for joy; let them sing before the LORD, for he comes to judge the earth… in righteousness and equity.”
  • Ps 150:6 “Let everything that has breath praise the LORD!”

In all, our spiritual commitments are comprised of personal and public.

  1. Personal spiritual commitments are taking ownership and responsibility for your own spiritual growth. A spiritually mature Christian cannot solely blame others, or our church, of “not being fed.” One can disagree with the teachings of others/church, but the responsibility of being fed belongs to the individual believer.
    – Ps 1:2-3 “Blessed is the one who delights in the Lord’s instruction and meditates on it day and night. They are like a tree planted beside streams of water that bears its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever they do prospers.”
  2. Public spiritual commitments acknowledge faith is personal but not private. Christians are commanded to a host of “one another” actions, not least but gathering. Repeatedly, the psalmist teaches us to gather with the people of God as citizens of a united kingdom.
    101: 6 I look with favor on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me
    – Ps 133 The Lord blesses when brothers/sisters dwell in unity.
    – Acts 2:42 “they devoted themselves to the fellowship”
    – Rom 12:4-5 “As in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.”
    – Heb 10:25 “Do not neglect meeting together”
  • Become active in membership. Being married but never living with spouse would be mystifying. Faith, baptism, and membership are beginning steps of spiritual commitment.
  • Tell someone you’re a Christian. Regularly.
    – – – You don’t have to attend SPBC long to discover the pastor likes Reese’s. It likely takes only a couple weeks to discern your favorite likes/dislikes (sports, food, movies, hobbies, etc.). So, why does it take many Christians years, if ever for them to share their faith in Jesus Christ?
  • Dig deeper in the word. I ask people, “How is your devotional life and time in the word?” Frequent response is, “It could be better.” I get that, but also wonder how many are plain lazy and lack relationship development reading Scripture.
    – – – Simple act to attend & engage in Sunday 9:30am TGP Q3.

– – – Connect with Men/Women Groups
– – – Sermon Group… start reading 2 Peter.

I will preserve my moral integrity.

2  I will ponder the way that is blameless. Oh when will you come to me? I will walk with integrity of heart within my house;
3  I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me.
4  A perverse heart shall be far from me; I will know nothing of evil.

David’s next commitment relates to everything else. David can commit to honoring God or serving others, but if he lacks personal integrity then he lacks everything. It is far too easy to have an appearance of godliness but absent integrity (cf. 2Tim 3:5).

The context of this psalm is likely the beginning of David’s kingship. The phrase 101:2 Oh when will you come to me? Identifies when David was seeking to return the ark of God to Jerusalem. In essence, he is not only establishing the type of king he wants to be, but the type of leaders and workers he will appoint in his palace and kingdom.

101:2“Be wise toward”[4] or ponder the way that is blameless. David’s idea here isn’t necessarily perfection but intended aim of being without deception. If David’s home life contained compromise or corruption, then his credibility was counterfeit.[5]  Charles Spurgeon asked, “Do you sing in the choir and sin in the chamber? Are you a saint abroad and a devil at home? For shame! What we are at home, that we are indeed.”[6] Overall, holiness starts at home. We cannot win at work or thrive in ministry if we lose at home. Leadership is a commitment to character and stewardship of credibility.

Overall, holiness starts at home. We cannot win at work or thrive in ministry if we lose at home. Leadership is a commitment to character and stewardship of credibility.

To preserve his moral integrity, David had to fight for inward discipline & fight against external distractions. He had to shield his eyes from a wrong focus & safeguard his heart from wicked friends.

Illus[7]: I heard a story about a pastor visiting families in Appalachia mountains. The family’s only heat was from a woodstove in the corner, where their two-month-old child lay. The infant was not in a crib or soft basket, but instead was in a handmade cage of tightly woven chicken wire. The pastor’s curiosity grew to concern, so he asked the family why their precious newborn was in a cage. The father said, “We have to keep him in this little cage so the rats won’t eat on him.” The parents built a cage not out of cruelty but protection of their child.
*Likewise, parents today must construct cages to protect and prepare your children from a rat-infested world. NOTE – I seldom speak like this. But when our world is confronted, in the same week, with child massacres and covered reports of child molestation[8], then it’s no time for subtlety.

**Potential cages to protect and prepare young children:

  • Minimize screen time. Digital media is addictive, and the content is discipling our children (and adults) in worldviews that are unholy and unbiblical.
  • Monitor friends. The models and mentors we allow in our children (or own) life are likely the #1 influence. We cannot be passive in the oversight of friends, environments.
  • Maximize skills over schedule. Parents can fill calendars with extra school curricula, sports, and programs. But they often forget the purpose. A child’s experiences must equip them with the character and skills necessary to succeed in life. Parents are not merely rearing children but preparing them to become fully functioning adults. Make a list of skills you want your child to learn before they leave home… then provide education and experiences to accomplish the purpose.  

Regardless, if your children are young or grown, to preserve moral integrity we need to remember the ramifications.

  • Prov 27:12 “The prudent foresees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it.”
  • Make a list of warning signs and potential problems if you lose your integrity.
    • I would dishonor my marriage causing unimaginable heartbreak to my amazing wife.
    • I could delay, deter, or destroy my precious children’s faith.
    • I could disillusion and place a stumbling block upon others to know the joy of Jesus or the forgiving grace of the gospel.
    • I would disgrace the reputation of SPBC and disqualify my calling as God’s servant.
    • I would disappoint so many family and friends, having to embarrassingly look them in the eye and answer for my guilt.
    • I would deter my ability to make an income and lose my home.
    • I would devastate my hopes and discard decades of dreams and ambitions.

What’s your list? What is left when integrity is lost?
Integrity is everything.  

I will protect my neighbor’s dignity.

5  Whoever slanders his neighbor secretly I will destroy. Whoever has a haughty look and an arrogant heart I will not endure.
6  I will look with favor on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me; he who walks in the way that is blameless shall minister to me.
7  No one who practices deceit shall dwell in my house; no one who utters lies shall continue before my eyes.
8  Morning by morning I will destroy all the wicked in the land, cutting off all the evildoers from the city of the LORD.

This last section deals with an important commitment because it puts feet to our faith. It shows that love for God results in action for the benefit of others. Love for neighbor is the tangible expression of devotion with God.

In David’s case, vv.5-7 also reflect the type of workers and servants he condemned or celebrated in his kingdom.

David condemns slander (v.5). Everyone remembers the rhyme: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” The rhyme was intended to strengthen our resolve to overcome the words people say. Yet, the rhyme diminishes the reality and power for words to scar hearts and wound spirits. This is the power of slander, which occurs when someone creates and shares a false statement or story about someone to damage or destroy a person’s reputation.

People often slander others believing if they snuff the candle of another, then their candle will stay lit. The danger is that slander creates a spark, which then ignite the fires of a gossip whirlwind that no one survives. The source of slander is Satan – who accuses and deceives, day and night, but who’s days are numbered (cf Rev 12:10; James 3:15-16).  

As Christians, we should not allow ourselves to be Satan’s pawn. Instead, we should use our words to build up rather than tear down (Eph 4:29). We should seek to guard the dignity of our neighbors, even with those whom we disagree. The world has created the lie that you must cancel and destroy those who differ from you. Also, if someone will share gossip or slander about someone with you, they will also share gossip or slander about you! So, Christians are not to receive or relay slander about anyone. Overall, we must remember Matthew 18 and keep truth and grace at the center of our relationships.

David condemns haughty eyes and arrogant heart (v.5). The previous was about the action of pride, and this is about the attitude or mindset of pride.

David also condemns deceit and lies (v.7). Lying against our neighbors is breaking 1 of 10 commandments (Ex 20:16). David knows that if he allows liars to linger in his palace, then problems will multiply. Because the trouble with lies is that you must tell more to keep up the charade.

  • Mark Twain, “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”
  • Proverbs 6:16-19 “There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.”

David celebrates faithfulness (v.6). His eyes favor the faithful of the land so that they may sit down and serve with me. The antidote to infidelity is intimacy. One of the ways David cultivated commitment among his men was by being a loyal friend.

  • He loved Jonathan.
  • He honored Saul.
  • He was gracious toward Mephibosheth.
  • He was humble toward Nathan.

 Likewise, if we want to be faithful toward the Lord, then we must give kind attention and caring action toward our neighbors.

One example is Proverbs 3:27 “When it is in your power, don’t withhold good from the one it belongs.”

  • A compliment or encouragement.
  • A gift or recognition.  
  • A visit; friendship. You may be looking for friendship but ignoring those God has provided.
  • Prayer.
  • The gospel. The gospel is only good news if we give it away.

The antidote to infidelity is intimacy.

APPLY/THINK

This psalm is doubly motivating because it models us what God celebrates and condemns, but it also gives us an imperfect model in King David.

David failed in his own spiritual life. He relied on his past victories and coasted in present challenges. This strategy failed him because he need to keep his walk with the Lord fresh. So do we.

  • How many rely upon past experiences that were good in the Lord, but that was so long ago – and we can’t remember the last time we spent undistracted time in the word or gave ourselves wholeheartedly in worship?

David failed in his moral integrity. He sinned by abusing his position and power to ravish what did not belong to him.

  • How many have gone beyond boundaries… repent/refresh!

David failed in his neighborly love. He sinned against the nation with his arrogance, anger, and violence. He destroyed lives rather than value, dignify, or love them.

Yet, in David’s failures we also see God’s forgiveness. We see a man who experienced breakthrough because he took his brokenness to the only source of help and hope.  

Where do you turn when you have gone astray or feel abandoned? Let it be Jesus.


[1] C. H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David: Psalms 88-110, vol. 4 (London; Edinburgh; New York: Marshall Brothers, n.d.), 242.

[2] John Phillips, Exploring The Psalms – Ps 101, p.108.

[3] Inspiration from Keith & Kristyn Getty, Sing: How Worship Transforms Your Life, Family, and Church, p.xxiii.

[4] Leslie C. Allen, Psalms 101–150 (Revised), vol. 21, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 2002), 6.

[5] Derek Kidner, Psalms 73–150: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 16, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1975), 391.

[6] C. H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David: Psalms 88-110, vol. 4 (London; Edinburgh; New York: Marshall Brothers, n.d.), 240.

[7] https://www.lifeway.com/en/articles/sermon-building-godly-home-purity-holiness-psalm-101

[8] https://growinggodlygenerations.com/2022/05/24/sbc-reckoning-spbc-2/

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