He sure sounds like a legalist.
In Psalm 18, David appears to make some over-the-top righteousness claims. At first glance, he seems to be honoring himself for his brilliant behavior and the fantastic consequences he has earned by his goodness. In hearing these statements, it causes one to wonder how any biblically schooled worshiper could verbalize such sanctimonious pomposity. Listen to David’s declarations:
The Lord dealt with me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands he rewarded me. For I have kept the ways of the Lord, and have not wickedly departed from my God. For all his rules were before me, and his statutes I did not put away from me. I was blameless before him, and I kept myself from my guilt. So the Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight. With the merciful you show yourself merciful; with the blameless man you show yourself blameless; with the purified you show yourself pure; and with the crooked you make yourself seem tortuous. For you save a humble people, but the haughty eyes you bring down. (Psalm 18:20-27)
What is going on with David?
Is he diminishing the high and holy nature of God’s Laws? Can he now simultaneously keep all God’s precepts and ordinances without fail?
Is he forgetting the Fall, the universal scourge of original sin, and the progressively depraved nature of man?
Is he forgetting how the Lord is everywhere present and examines the heart, head, mouth, and heart of man?
Is he discounting the angry and just wrath of God towards any and all sin? Has he now a Theology Proper that allows God to wink at devilish lusts, thoughts, words, and deeds?
Is he now puffed up with spiritual pride over his incredible obedience?
Is he now claiming salvation by means of keeping God’s Laws? Does God really owe him blessings in accordance with his keeping the Covenant of Works?
Does this man no longer need mercy to follow him all the days of his life? Is he good enough with strict justice now because of his meritorious behavior?
Is David now the legalist of all legalists?
David is not a legalist. He is just a thankful saint.
David is one who still depends on the imputed righteousness of God alone received only through faith. David’s confidence is still found in the Coming Sacrifice who would live to earn his righteousness, die to pay for his unrighteousness, and then engage in the righteousness-substitution that makes horrible sinners to be holy saint. In later words, David states the fountainhead of his righteousness:
This God—his way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him. For who is God, but the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God?— the God who equipped me with strength and made my way blameless. (Psalm 18:30-32)
So what is David doing?
David is giving glory to God by declaring the positional and progressive righteousness gifted to and worked through him by means of God’s Spirit.
Despite his being a sinner …
Despite his continually committing sins …
Despite what he has horribly done and earned …
He rejoices in the righteous fruits coming forth through him by the power of the Holy Spirit, and in doing so, David honors God for his gifted sainthood.
Therefore, my Gospel-infatuated friends, let it rip!
On this Good Friday, because of the love and merit of Jesus Christ alone, you can allow the words of David to be your own. I know it hurts. I know it makes you feel like an arrogant legalist. However, the work of Jesus is really this good, and because he lived, and died, and lives …
And because his righteousness is your righteousness …
And because he dominates, prays, regenerates, justifies, communes, fills, adopts, weds, positionally fruits, disciples, prunes, and progressively fruits …
You too can say:
The Lord is dealing with me according to my GIFTED righteousness
According to the cleanness of my NEW hands he is rewarding me.
IN CHRIST, I am always keeping the ways of the Lord and not wickedly departing from my God.
For all his rules are before me, and his statutes I am not putting away from me. I am blameless before him BECAUSE I AM HID WITH CHRIST.
I am guilt-free BECAUSE OF CHRIST ALONE.
So the Lord is now rewarding me according to my righteousness WHICH IS CHRIST’S GIFT TO ME, according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight WHICH SEES ME ALWAYS AND ONLY CLOTHED IN THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF CHRIST.
With the merciful you show yourself merciful; with the blameless man you show yourself blameless; with the purified you show yourself pure, AND I AM ALL OF THOSE BY GRACE ALONE.
For you save a humble people, but the haughty eyes you bring down. LORD, I AM NOT ARROGANT LEGALIST. I AM MERELY A HUMBLE, HAPPY, HOLY, AND VERY THANKFUL SAINT.
And all of this is because of the sacrifice made for me on Good Friday.