Monday, August 7, 2017

Righteous or Boastful?

Monday, August 7, 2017
O Lord, hear my plea for justice.  Listen to my cry for help.  Pay attention to my prayer, for it comes from honest lips.  Declare me innocent, for you see those who do right.  You have tested my thoughts and examined my heart in the night.  You have scrutinized me and found nothing wrong.  I am determined not to sin in what I say.  I have followed your commands, which keep me from following cruel and evil people.  My steps have stayed on your path; I have not wavered from following you.
Because I am righteous, I will see you.  When I awake, I will see you face to face and be satisfied.  Psalm 17:1-5, 15(NLT)
King David – did he have too high an opinion of himself, or was he just being forgetful?  This prayer for God’s help almost begs the question whether David was ordering God around.  In the space of a few sentences David calls himself honest, innocent, obedient, and righteous, as opposed to being like the cruel and evil people who oppress others. 
It is difficult to separate this attitude from that of the New Testament image Jesus paints of a Pharisee going to pray in the Temple.  A despised tax collector stood nearby:
The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer:  ‘I thank you, God, that I am not like other people—cheaters, sinners, adulterers.  I’m certainly not like that tax collector!  I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’  Luke 18:11-12(NLT)
If this Psalm was written while David was being hounded by King Saul, who has gone off the deep end in paranoiac fear that David wants his throne, we can almost forgive David’s wailing; he was trying to serve the king…and his thanks is a death sentence?
David is somewhat naïve at best, and short-sighted about his own (or any human’s) character; who – as Jesus asked – is without sin?
But lurking in the background of the Psalmist’s prayer is an unseen New Testament hope of resurrection.  Notice once again the last phrase:
Because I am righteous, I will see you.  When I awake, I will see you face to face and be satisfied.  Psalm 17:1-5, 15(NLT)
In the post-crucifixion/resurrection sense, righteousness is imputed, or given by God to those who trust in Christ’s righteousness; it is not an earned or deserved achievement.  No human being can pile up enough goodness to be righteous in God’s eyes. 
Yet David claims righteousness…and eagerly looks forward to seeing God face to face.  In this sense, David was way ahead of his time in theological understanding!  What he was claiming was not self-righteousness, but the promise of God to cleanse him from the penalties of all his unrighteousness.
And that makes all the difference!

For You Today

The difference between those sinners who are forgiven, and those who have never trusted Christ for forgiveness and salvation, is that forward-look, that eagerness to see God face to face. 
The forgiven are fearless; the unforgiven, not so much!       
You chew on that as you hit the Rocky Road…have a blessed day!

[i] Title Image: By Jastrow (Own work (own picture)) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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