Psalm 143

Being justified (made righteous)

David is obviously in mortal danger while he prays the prayer recorded in Psalm 143. It is a desperate plea to God for help. The interesting thing about it is in verse 2:

And enter not into judgment with thy servant: for in thy sight shall no man living be justified. (Psalm 143:2 KJV)

Notice that he mentions that no-one is justified – and the word “justified” means righteous or sinless. It suggests the reason David was in trouble, was because God was chastening him for his sin. This fits in with the time period after his sin with Bathsheba (see 2 Samuel 12). David’s plea isn’t merely for God to save him from trouble, but from the cause of that trouble; namely his own sin. In v6-7 we see how desperately he longed for that forgiveness.

I stretch forth my hands unto thee: my soul thirsteth after thee, as a thirsty land. Selah. Hear me speedily, O LORD: my spirit faileth: hide not thy face from me, lest I be like unto them that go down into the pit. (Psalm 143:6-7 KJV)

The lesson for us is in v11-12 – note the phrase “for your righteousness sake”:

Quicken me, O LORD, for thy name’s sake: for thy righteousness’ sake bring my soul out of trouble. And of thy mercy cut off mine enemies, and destroy all them that afflict my soul: for I am thy servant. (Psalm 143:11-12 KJV)

So David had come to realise that there was no self justification for his sin. The only option open to him was to appeal to God’s righteousness and His mercy. The same goes for us:

Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. … For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: (Romans 3:20, 23-24 KJV)

God had provided His son to declare God’s righteousness, so that, as David understood, justification might be seen by all to result from God’s goodness, grace and mercy:

Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. (Romans 3:25-26 KJV)

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