In most countries of the world there are days set aside to honour their veterans, ex-members of their armed forces who sacrificed themselves for their countries. In Australia and New Zealand, we have what we call ANZAC Day. These letters stand for “Australian and New Zealand Army Corps”. Although the term “veteran” is often used of an ex-member of the armed forces, it can describe others as well. The actual definition of a “veteran” is “a person who has had long experience in a particular field.” For example, as mentioned last time, someone like Billy Graham who had proved God faithfulness over many years as a Bible teacher, author and evangelist.
The author of Psalm 71 was also a “veteran” of sorts. Although we aren’t given all the details, we know he was able to look back over many years to his birth and youth (vs. 5-6) with thanksgiving to God for his goodness and care for him. Even though his life had often been difficult (v. 20), he had also experienced God’s help during these times (vs. 15-17) and so was confident that now in his old age, God would continue to strengthen and protect him (vs. 1-4, 9, 18, 20-21) and therefore he could praise him (vs. 8, 14, 19, 22-24).
Broyles comments on this psalm as follows: the “key to understanding the spirituality of this psalm is that while it makes reference to the speaker’s lifelong devotion to God, its ultimate appeal is to ‘your righteousness’ [verses 2, 15, 16, 19 and 24)…We should not think of this as a static, moral description of being, but a dynamic, characteristic action of putting things right.” (# 4)
Ans so the psalmist prays:
In you, Lord, I have taken refuge;
let me never be put to shame.
2 In your righteousness, rescue me and deliver me;
turn your ear to me and save me… 15 My mouth will tell of your righteous deeds,
of your saving acts all day long… 16 I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, Sovereign Lord;
I will proclaim your righteous deeds, yours alone…
19 Your righteousness, God, reaches to the heavens,
you who have done great things.
Who is like you, God?…
24 My tongue will tell of your righteous acts
all day long,
In Psalm 4:1 we read the words, “Answer me when I call to you, O my righteous God…”
The NIV Study Bible comments: “Very often the ‘righteousness’ of God in the Psalms…refers to the faithfulness with which he acts. This faithfulness is in full accordance with his commitments…to his people and with his status as the divine King – to whom the powerless may look for protection, the oppressed for redress and the needy for help.” (# 45)
Juli Camarin on her blog writes;
“The Vine’s Dictionary defines righteousness in this way, ‘Righteousness is the character or quality of being right or just”. The righteousness of God is essentially the same as His faithfulness and truthfulness, and it is consistent with His nature and promises. In essence, the entire character of God depends on His ability to always do the right thing.
For humanity, God’s righteousness, ‘the character or quality of being right or just’, was demonstrated in Jesus. Since He created mankind with a choice (Genesis 2:16-17), knowing beforehand that they would sin, God’s righteousness was validated when He sent Jesus into the world to redeem it. In other words, He did not leave the consequences of that choice on the shoulders of humanity. Rather, God’s actions proved consistent with His righteous nature because God will always be faithful to mankind, Jesus demonstrated this.”
We too, like the psalmist, can call out to ‘my righteous God” and be confident that in his faithfulness he will hear and act.
In the NT John writes of Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. (1 John 2:1) and we learn that we too, as God’s children are to seek the righteousness found in Jesus.
As Jesus said:
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. (Matthew 5:6)
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6;33)
Paul wrote concerning this:
7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith inChrist—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. (Phil 3:7-9)
Father, thank you that you are the One who is right and just in all your ways. How we need to rest on this truth in these tumultuous days. Thank you for sending Jesus that we might obtain a righteousness only available through faith in Christ. Amen.