Psalm 101 (Psalms on the Trail)

Psalm 101

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.

Psalm 101: 5-6

Reflection:  When I first read this psalm I wanted to skip it, but, like I said about a few others, that’s not an option.  This psalm sounds so full of self-righteousness, even arrogance, dangerously bordering on hypocrisy in its lofty ideals of what one will and will not do.  My initial dislike meant I had to delve in, work a little harder, and listen to the poet more carefully.  What I discovered was that biblical historians think this psalm was used at a monarch’s coronation.  Certainly I wouldn’t mind a government leader promising before his/her people to uphold certain principles of integrity when taking office.  For a monarch in ancient Israel, from where the psalm originated, the words above and the additional promises in the rest of the psalm could have been a profound declaration to the people governed—even if the ideal went frequently unrealized according to the biblical accounts.

I live in a country that has a democracy, not a monarchy.  An oath of office is important.  Thomas Jefferson, our third president who was instrumental in constructing what our government would look like, had experience with an oath of office, and once sat here on this very rock (in the photo) above Harper’s Ferry writing that this view was worth the crossing over the Atlantic.  The AT trail is just to the left and hikers and visitors stop here all the time.  The top rock once balanced on only a few smaller boulders and could gently be rocked back and forth.  Villagers below complained.  Supports now hold it up, and officially no one is allowed to sit on it anymore.   But I think about Jefferson, and our government representatives, our judges, our candidates for presidential office.  I wonder about promises of integrity and the hope they hold out for those governed.  And even though our government honors separation of church and state, I think how promises like the ones in this psalm made by an ancient monarch would be a valuable standard for any person who dares to lead others.  Read Psalm 101 and imagine a future elected official promising such integrity.

Suggestions:

1. Take this verse with you and ponder its meaning for you throughout the day.  What do you notice?  What do you wonder?

2. Or read all of Psalm 101 to discover how this verse fits into this psalm.

3. Or comment with a photo of your own that is a window of this verse’s meaning for you.

Tomorrow’s psalm will be Psalm 102:6-7.

Starting January 1, 2016, for 150 days I am posting a daily psalm verse with a photo that is a visual meditation on the text for me.  Each day a verse from the next psalm is chosen until all 150 psalms have been featured.   To participate you may subscribe to my blog at http://elainedent.net or “friend” me on Facebook and watch for the daily links to blog posts.  Disclaimer:  I am not a photographer and most of the photos are from a cell phone or small camera while hiking the Appalachian Trail or the C&O Canal/Great Allegheny Passage Trail.