“…he rescued me because he delighted in me.” (v 19)
That’s where we ended our last conversation about this amazing psalm. David now continues and so it seems, at face value anyway, to share with us, the reader, why God “delights” in him and rescued him. Listen to his words:
20 The Lord has dealt with me according to my righteousness;
according to the cleanness of my hands he has rewarded me.
21 For I have kept the ways of the Lord;
I am not guilty of turning from my God.
22 All his laws are before me;
I have not turned away from his decrees.
23 I have been blameless before him
and have kept myself from sin.
24 The Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness,
according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight.
Possibly, one of the first thoughts you had as you read these words of David was of the Pharisees in Jesus’ time. Maybe you remembered the story from Luke’s Gospel chapter 18:9-14 which says:
9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
But, somehow, this does not seem to fit with the David that we know so well from his history and from the devotional songs and poems he wrote, the man described by God himself as “a man after his own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14). So, if this is not a case of David boasting about how good he is, then what is it?
Wilcock warns us “against taking things at face value.” He doesn’t believe that “it depicts a man who reckons that the basis of his relationship with God, and therefore the most important thing in the world, is his own good character.” He continues, “I do not recognize in that portrait the man of verses 1-19, who is in love with God, who sees God bringing blessing out of every crisis of his life, who marvels that God should have done all these things for him. The most important thing in this man’s world is his God.
So, we are not to imagine that it was David’s virtues which originally endeared him to the Lord. The springs of that first delight were not in David’s deserving but in God’s undeserved and unaccountable love…
No, the claim and the reward…are not the making of a relationship, they arise within a relationship which has already been made…It is a confidence that those who out of love for the Lord want to walk in the ways of the Lord (v. 21) will find that the blessing of the Lord will come to meet them. He delights to reward obedience.” (see references # 5)
And so David continues:
25 To the faithful you show yourself faithful,
to the blameless you show yourself blameless,
26 to the pure you show yourself pure,
but to the devious you show yourself shrewd.
27 You save the humble
but bring low those whose eyes are haughty
In his so-called “Sermon on the Mount”, Jesus describes the person who is “blessed” or, we could say, in whom the Lord “delights”, in a way that amazed those who were listening. He said:
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit…
4 Blessed are those who mourn…
5 Blessed are the meek…
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness…
7 Blessed are the merciful…
8 Blessed are the pure in heart…
9 Blessed are the peacemakers…
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven…” (Matthew 5:3-11)
Of course, none of this is possible by our own efforts at being “righteous”. If any of these character traits are to be revealed in our lives it will be the result of being in an intimate relationship with the One who spoke them. As we walk in obedience to Him and He lives His life through us as he described in John 15:
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing…
9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”
Father, as we consider the chaos and sadness of our world around us, we desire to be different, so as to bring hope to all we meet. Not with a “holier-than-thou” attitude, but to be like You, the one who “humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!” Amen.