“Belial” (be-lee-uil) in Hebrew is anything wicked, perverse or underhanded. The word can be used to describe a small imperfection, or an assassination plot. King David made grand sweeps with this Psalm; he won’t tolerate Belial in his sight:
ü Verse 2 His own behavior would be wise
ü Verse 4 No evil friends
ü Verse 5 Excommunication and
banishment for slanderers
ü Verse 7 Liars banned from his presence
ü Verse 8 Everyone who does wickedly
cut off (literally, figuratively
and legally), from having any
right to be in Israel;
this includes their families
One problem with understanding this Psalm is that it’s hard to tell if it comes before or after Psalm 51. Of course Psalm 51 is the well-known contrition of David’s heart after his sin with Bathsheba. If you take time to read that whole event (2 Samuel 11) David’s whole heart is swimming in Belial; he’s totally steeped in lying, evil plots, and slander of Bathsheba’s husband’s reputation – in short, David is doing wickedness, Belial.
It would seem quite impossible for him to have written Psalm 101 after his fall. Well, not with a straight face anyway!
I believe Psalm 101 came first; David’s love for God caused him to want to live his life as a perfect (mature) example of how to live before God. And this is because he wanted to set the right standard in Israel; he wanted to be a great king for God.
But David had a little problem understanding just how far-reaching is the depravity which lurks in the human heart. His later fall in sin would reveal that all too graphically and publicly, as Nathan the Prophet exposed David’s actions as Belial!
So Psalm 101 and 51 are juxtaposition, a picture of extreme contrasts; it’s the light of deep love and obedience to God and God’s law, set against the background of dark living. Psalm 101 – sets David’s speech of holiness in the forefront, while the backdrop of Psalm 51 is full of the opposite – Belial.
By this kind of contrast we see how foolish our human resolve can appear to others. We often fail with our living to measure up to our preaching! Scripture has plenty of warning about that:
If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. 1 Corinthians 10:12 (NLT)
I saw a church sign recently that said:
Children of God ought to bear the family resemblance
A good thought toward that end might be to go ahead and declare your love for God, but humbly remember that it is only by God’s grace you can possibly live that way.
For You, Today…
Did you take time to pray today?
Keeping your relationship with God fresh and current has a lot to do with how your life’s obedience to God will play out. It keeps the Belial at check.