Psalm 101 names four great qualities a believer must possess in order to discern his or her divine purpose. Without these four virtues to clarify one’s vision, confusion abounds. After describing honor and integrity in verses 1 and 2, the song continues with two more godly qualities: honesty and purity.
I will set no worthless thing before my eyes;
I hate the work of those who fall away;
It shall not fasten its grip on me. (101:3)
As king, David had the political power to set any agenda and then commit the resources of the entire nation to accomplish his goal. His predecessor, Saul, used his political influence, the nation’s wealth, and the might of the Israelite army to hunt down and kill David, who God had anointed as King! David, however, resolves to avoid every unworthy aim and ambition. To do anything less would inevitably lead to his “falling away” from fellowship with his Lord. Moreover, he resolved to “hate” the accomplishments of those who “fall away.”
In the Ancient Near East, to “hate” something is to reject it in favor of something else. For example, Genesis 29 tells the story of Jacob’s two wives and how he “loved” Rachel and “hated” her sister, Leah. The term indicates Jacob’s choice to favor one over the other. He wasn’t repulsed by Leah. After all, he did conceive several children with her! David has determined to choose the Lord’s way and to reject the deeds of evil people, those who have fallen away from God.
A perverse heart shall depart from me;
I will know no evil. (101:4)
David has resolved thus far that he will be a man of honor, integrity, and honesty. Now he resolves to be a man of purity—knowing no evil. This has to be one of the reasons God called David “a man after My own heart.” Rare indeed are those people in this world who could say what David says in this fourth verse.
David’s son Solomon also wrote of the value of personal purity in Proverbs 11:19–21:
He who is steadfast in righteousness will attain to life,
And he who pursues evil will bring about his own death.
The perverse in heart are an abomination to the LORD,
But the blameless in their walk are His delight.
Assuredly, the evil man will not go unpunished,
But the descendants of the righteous will be delivered.
Don’t miss the last part of that passage. A pure life is actually a spiritual investment, the dividends being enjoyed by your children. God has a purity layaway plan, a spiritual account you establish now and your descendants later cash in on.
I cannot overemphasize the value of a pure life. We have an inordinate curiosity about perversion and evil. We are not only aware of wickedness, but we are drawn to it with interest. The news media capitalize on this interest by highlighting the evil in our world. They have found that public interest is high when it comes to impure, wicked activities. David realized, however, that “a perverse heart” would only lead to a weakening of his spiritual life.
My wife, Cynthia, and I know a young man who was in training for the ministry. He met and married a girl who had been gloriously saved out of an impure past. She had been a call girl connected with an organized ring of prostitutes in a large city. During those years she went to the depths of shame. Through a series of events she heard the gospel and came to Christ by faith. After her conversion and subsequent marriage to our minister friend, she found herself in an entirely new environment. Instead of evil there was purity. On one occasion, she shared with Cynthia the tremendous adjustment she faced and the difficulty of fully forgetting her past. She wanted to, but evil had a way of lingering in her mind. Perhaps that is the reason David resolved to “know no evil.” This world’s system puts a brand upon us that is the next thing to impossible to erase. How much better it is to be pure and inexperienced than to be scarred by impure memories that are quick to play back their reruns at a moment’s notice.