Psalm Seven: Judge Me, O Yahweh, According to My Righteousness
Already had David found comfort from his sorrow over sin, and had assured himself that the Lord had seen his tears of penitence and would not rebuke him in his wrath (Psalm 6); and yet, as blessed as that forgiveness of sins and free absolution from guilt had been, a fuller confidence in his sure salvation from all his enemies required even more yet: for if his faith should remain strong in the promises of God, when all the world seemed set against him, he needed not just to know that he was forgiven, but also that he was positively righteous â€“ not just that the Lord had nothing against him, but also that the Lord had seen everything good in him, and was well-disposed to help him for the beautiful and commendable things which adorned his heart, not just disinclined to rebuke him for the ugly and contemptible things over which he had mourned so deeply before.
After the bitter lamentation of his own sin in Psalm Six, how shockingly does this confident assertion in the next psalm strike our ears: â€œJudge me, O Yahweh, according to my righteousnessâ€ (v. 8)! Surely David, of all people, knew that no one living was righteous before God, that there is none who does good, no, not one (Psalm 14:3; see also Prov. 20:9). How, then, could he plead with God so confidently on the basis of his integrity and righteousness?
Let us examine the question, dear saint, for is not the true answer to this conundrum the very thing we need most day after day, as we seek to assure our own souls that God will save us to the uttermost? And in this matter we will certainly walk well and straightly, not erring from the truth, God the Holy Spirit directing us.
We must first remember that David, the anointed king over Israel, was a type and forerunner of his greater Son, Christ the anointed King. Thus, in David's many battles against fierce enemies, cruel traitors, and men of lies and perversions, which he endured with a ragtag band of outcast followers, so that he might ultimately ascend to the throne and shepherd his people, we may see another history forecast, in which the Christ fought against demons in the wilderness, cruel betrayers, false-tongued witnesses of malice, cruel enemies of blood and deceit, so that he might save and shepherd his poor, despised disciples. And in all of these struggles, the point of greatest typological significance is this: that David always acted justly and meekly before his foes, and they always responded to his grace and goodness with unmerited rage and mad schemings and cruelties. How unresisting and loyal and loving was David to Saul, and with what great malice did he meet with for no reason at all that was ever found in him! Surely, this was why he could ask so confidently for God's help against those who were his enemies without a cause â€“ in every matter in which the two parties could be brought before the bar, he was righteous and they were guilty. And in this circumstance, how brilliantly did he forecast the struggles of the Messiah, who not only did no wrong against his enemies, but against neither God nor any man at all was anything objectionable ever found in him â€“ and yet, for his perfect and unspotted righteousness, he received such hatred and bloody rage as no man has ever known before.
So David had great confidence that God would vindicate him for his righteousness in his dealings with all his enemies, who were in the wrong concerning him; and this was a shadow of the Christ who, when hanged upon a tree for no wrong of his own, did not resist, but rather, trusting in his righteousness, commended his soul to God who judges righteously, and confidently awaited for when God would make him look in triumph on all his enemies (1 Pet. 2:22-24).
But have you noticed, O believer, that this confidence was only David's as he was opposed by those more wicked than himself; and what sort of confidence could he have had when he approached the holy bar of the righteous Judge of all the earth, to be tried for his own deeds? With what confidence may we succor our own souls when we come boldly to the Throne of Grace? Will we then trust in the cleanness of our own hands?
A thousand times no, wretched sinner! Neither did David ever look to his own good deeds for his eternal justification, nor will any mortal man who trusts in his own works ever stand on the Day of Judgment. But if you would be wise unto eternal salvation, consider verses nine and ten, and be instructed thereby: for after saying that the Lord will establish the singular Righteous One, David then assures himself that he will likewise save all the many who are upright in heart. But take care that you notice the order: first, the Righteous One, the Christ, would be confirmed and established by God before all his enemies, and only then, and on that basis, would the many upright be saved. Note: the One would be established, or confirmed, as righteous in himself; but the many would be saved, that is delivered from sin and enmity, not by their own good works, but by their inclusion and incorporation into the One who is established as truly righteous, the history of David himself illustrating and testifying to this truth peculiar to the Son of David alone.
So then, did David put any confidence in his own works? Only after this sort, that because his life displayed the meekness and integrity which pointed ahead to the Christ, he was therefore confident to call himself one of those who are upright in heart; and as he was upright in heart, he was among those who would be saved by corporate identification when the Righteous One was established. Those things pertaining to the Messiah whom he foreshadowed being in him and abounding, he had confidence in the gracious promises of God, and had not forgotten that he was purged of old from all his sins by the blood of Christ (see 2 Pet. 1:8-10).
Was David, who trusted that he was more righteous than they who opposed him, even as his promised Seed would be utterly righteous before all his enemies, inclined to take pride in his works, and glorify himself? By no means, for he ends the Psalm not praising himself for his own righteousness, but glorying in and giving thanks for the righteousness of God. If he was confident that God would be pleased in him because of his own righteousness, then why would he be thankful, and not instead boast? But rather, looking ahead to the perfect righteousness of Christ, by which all the pure in heart would be saved, and especially that righteousness of God by which he showed himself faithful to his covenant promises of mercy and salvation, he gloried in God and made sure his hope of eternal salvation.
And shall we not do the same, O Christian? When we look to the righteousness of David, shall we not be cast thereby upon the more perfect righteousness of the greater David, who was vindicated by God before all his enemies, so that all who are his, and who add to their faith all the abounding virtues of the divine nature (2 Pet. 1:3-11), might have great confidence that by the righteousness of God they will certainly be saved, and in the righteousness of God alone they will glory and give thanks? So let it ever be in the hearts of all those who are upright, and do not glory in the flesh, but worship God in the Spirit and make their boast in him alone; and besides this, giving all diligence, add to their faith virtue, knowledge, self-control, etc., and so make their calling and election sure.