Tuesday, February 28, 2012

My Righteous God

Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness. (Psalm 4:1)

Simply put, righteousness is rightness. God always does what is right and He comes to set things right. Righteousness is a term that also relates to keeping covenant. That is, those who have been faithful in a covenant relationship are considered righteous, and fit for community. In calling on “God of my righteousness,” or more properly, “My Righteous God,” David appeals to the covenant God made with Israel, for God committed Himself to be good to, and set things right for, His people.

We can find out about the righteousness of God throughout that psalms. For example, the psalm writer says that the “right hand” of Yahweh is “full of righteousness” (Psalm 48:10), that is, everything He does is thoroughly and completely according to what is right. Another says that “the heavens declare His righteousness” (Psalm 50:6). The heavens, which witnessed the covenant Yahweh made with Israel, declare that He has done what is right according to that covenant. And David’s testimony is that Yahweh answers “by awesome deeds in righteousness.” He does right by His people through powerful acts of protection and provision (Psalm 65:5).

Yahweh, the righteous God, honors the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish (Psalm 1:6). He blesses the righteous and surrounds them with His favor, as with a shield (Psalm 5:12). David says that “the righteous God tests the hearts and minds” (Psalm 7:9), examining each of us in the deepest places of our being, to see whether we are upright or ungodly, straight or crooked, and He delivers those who are in alignment with Him (Psalm 7:10). Yahweh “judges” the righteous (Psalm 7:11), bringing justice and vindication to those who keep covenant with Him. Yahweh is “with” the generation of the righteous (Psalm 14:5). That is, He makes His presence, protection and provision known to them. He delivers the righteous out of all their afflictions (Psalms 34:19). He supports and sustains them (Psalm 37:17). This list could go on, for there is much more in the psalms about how God is faithful and right with those who know and trust and keep covenant with Him.

We see this same rightness and faithfulness carried over into the New Testament. Jesus teaches us to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,” with the promise that everything else that concerns us will be taken care of (Matthew 6:33). Paul says that the gospel of Jesus the Messiah is “the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith” (Romans 1:16-17). The rightness of God is revealed “through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe” (Romans 3:21-22).

God has now also made a new and better covenant through the blood of Jesus (Hebrews 8:6; Luke 22:20), just as He promised in the Old Testament. He reveals His righteousness in that covenant, and all are counted as righteous members of it who trust in Jesus. With David, then, we may each call on Him as My Righteous God.