6. My eyes are towards the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me: he who walketh in an upright way shall minister to me.7. He who worketh [or practiseth] deceit shall not dwell in the midst of my house: he who speaketh falsehoods shall not abide in my sight.8. Early will I destroy all the wicked of the land; that I may cut off all the workers of iniquity from the city of Jehovah.
6 My eyes are towards the faithful of the land David here lays down another virtue of a wise prince, when he affirms that it will be his care to make all the faithful of the land his intimate friends, -- that he will avail himself of their good offices, and have as domestic servants such only as are distinguished for personal worth. Some understand the words, that they may dwell with me, in a general sense thus: I will not neglect the good and inoffensive, nor will I suffer them to be unjustly molested; but I will secure, that under my administration, they shall live in a state of peace and tranquillity. But his meaning rather is, that he will exercise discretion and care, that, instead of taking persons into his service indiscriminately, he may wisely determine each man's character, so as to have those who live a life of strict integrity as his most intimate friends, and that he may intrust them with the offices of state. He speaks of the faithful in the first place, because, although a man may possess talents of a high order, yet if he is not devoted to fidelity and integrity, he will never rightly execute the office of a judge. This is worthy of special notice; for although a prince may be the best of men, yet if his servants and officers are not of a corresponding character his subjects will experience hardly any advantage from his uncorrupted integrity. Servants are the hands of a prince, and whatever he determines for the good of his subjects they will wickedly overthrow it, provided they are avaricious, fraudulent, or rapacious. This has been more than sufficiently demonstrated by experience. The greater part of kings, indeed, passing over the good and the upright, or, which is worse, driving them away from them, purposely seek to have as servants those who are like themselves, and who may prove fit tools for their tyranny; yea, even good and well disposed princes often manifest so much indolence and irresolution as to suffer themselves to be governed by the worst counsels, and inconsiderately prostitute the offices of state by conferring them on the unworthy.
7 He who worketh deceit shall not dwell in the midst of my house This verse may be explained of all magistrates to whose charge the exercise of public judgments is committed, as well as of household servants. But as David has just now spoken in general of all officers, he seems now to speak properly of those who are near the person of the king. When the chief counsellors of kings and other intimate acquaintances who have gained possession of their ears, are deceitful and crafty, this becomes the source of all corruptions; for by their example they encourage others in evil, lifting up as it were the banner of licentiousness. And it is impossible that he who does not maintain good order in his own house, can be a fit person for holding the government of a whole realm. The authority which cannot preserve its influence under the domestic roof is of little worth in state affairs.
8 Early will I destroy all the wicked of the land The Psalmist at length concludes by asserting, that he will endeavor to the utmost of his power to purge the land from infamous and wicked persons. He affirms that he will do this early; for if princes are supine and slothful, they will never seasonably remedy the evils which exist. They must therefore oppose the beginnings of evil. The judge, however, must take care not to yield to the influence of anger, nor must he act precipitately and without consideration. The original word for early is in the plural number, (it being properly at the mornings,) which denotes unremitted exertion. It were not enough that a judge should punish the wicked sharply and severely in one or two instances: he must continue perseveringly in that duty. By this word is condemned the slothfulness of princes, when, upon seeing wicked men daringly break forth into the commission of crime, they connive at them from day to day, either through fear or an ill-regulated lenity. Let kings and magistrates then remember, that they are armed with the sword, that they may promptly and unflinchingly execute the judgments of God. David, it is true, could not purge the land from all defilements, however courageously he might have applied himself to the task. This he did not expect to be able to do. He only promises, that without respect of persons he will show himself an impartial judge, in cutting off all the wicked. Timidity often hinders judges from repressing with sufficient rigor the wicked when they exalt themselves. It is consequently necessary for them to be endued with a spirit of invincible fortitude, that relying upon Divine aid, they may perform the duties of the office with which they are invested. Moreover, ambition and favor sometimes render them pliant, so that they do not always punish offenses alike, where this ought to be done. Hence we learn that the strictness, which is not carried to excess, is highly pleasing to God; and, on the other hand, that he does not approve of the cruel kindness which gives loose reins to the wicked; as, indeed, there cannot be a greater encouragement to sin than for offenses to be allowed to pass unpunished. What Solomon says should therefore be remembered, (Proverbs 17:15) |He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the Lord.| What David adds, That I may cut off all the workers of iniquity from the city of God, is also emphatic. If even heathen kings are commanded in common to punish crimes, David well knew that he was under obligations of a more sacred kind to do so, since the charge of the Church of God had been committed to him. And certainly if those who hold a situation so honorable do not exert themselves to the utmost of their power to remove all defilements, they are chargeable with polluting as much as in them lies the sanctuary of God; and they not only act unfaithfully towards men by betraying their welfare, but also commit high treason against God himself. Now as the kingdom of David was only a faint image of the kingdom of Christ, we, ought to set Christ before our view; who, although he may bear with many hypocrites, yet as he will be the judge of the world, will at length call them all to an account, and separate the sheep from the goats. And if it seems to us that he tarries too long, we should think of that morning which will suddenly dawn, that all filthiness being purged away, true purity may shine forth.