Psalm Eleven: Not Mine, but His

Posted: September 25, 2012 in Interlude (Psalms)

I have to confess that sometimes I still try to earn my way into Heaven. Not overtly, mind you. I don’t make concentrated efforts at attempting various tasks in order to “get in.” I mean, if someone were to ask me, “Richard, what have you done this week that’s going to get you into Heaven?” I would be quick to respond with, “Absolutely nothing!” I know that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. I know this.

And yet still I mentally balk when I encounter passages like Psalm 11:6-7, where David says “Let [God] rain coals on the wicked; fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup. For the Lord is righteous; He loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold His face.”

I have problems with passages like this because I know myself. I know who I am, how often I’ve failed this week. More likely than not I’ve fallen short of righteousness far more times than I think I have. And what about that part where Isaiah said that our righteous deeds are like filthy rags, things that are disgusting in God’s sight? What the heck- how is David ok with even writing this? Sure, this may have been before he committed adultery with Bathsheba and had her husband murdered, but even then he would have known that he wasn’t perfect, that his heart was prone to wander, his feet quick to stray from the paths of righteousness.

But…I think he was aware of this. I think he knew that left alone he was in trouble, as are you and I. Perhaps that why he began this psalm with the words, “In the LORD I take refuge.” David says, “I am hiding myself in You.”

That’s the beauty of the Gospel. When we embrace Christ’s saving work on the Cross and God declares us to be not guilty, there is an event that theologians refer to as the “imputation of Christ’s righteousness,” which simply means that God no longer sees the imperfections of His children. As we’re now covered by Christ’s righteousness, one we ourselves could never obtain, God sees us as upright. He sees our deeds as righteous.

So yeah, I hesitated when reading this passage this morning. Just long enough to remember that it’s not my righteousness which will protect me on the day of judgement. My own would never withstand God’s scrutiny. But Jesus’ can. Jesus’ will. And it covers us. As Paul tells us, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

Grace is amazing.

 

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