Sunday, July 28, 2013

King David's Righteousness

One of the fundamental assumptions of conservative Christians is that the Bible is the Word of God. As such, it must be without error and contradiction. This does not mean, however, that it is easy to understand how every passage fits together. Many things in the Bible are difficult to understand because they create tension in our fallen minds. I have found, however, that studying and meditating upon these difficulties often results in a deeper appreciation for the unity of the Bible and the depth and power of its teaching. I recently came across an example of this when thinking about God’s assessment of King David.

David is such a major example of faith in the Bible that he serves as a type of Jesus Christ. God often mentions David favorably. He is called a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam. 13:14, Acts 13:22), he is commended for keeping the commandments and walking in the way of God (1 Kings 3:14), and the general pattern of his life was to worship and glorify God. In 1 Kings chapter 14, however, God says that king Jeroboam was not like David who “… kept my commandments and followed me with all his heart, doing only that which was right in my eyes…” (1 Kings 14:8).

If asked to list the heroes of the faith I am sure most of us would list David but how can God say that he did only what was right? After all, David violated the law on multiple occasions. He was an adulterer (2 Sam. 11:4), a murderer (2 Sam. 11:15), was prideful (1 Chron. 21:1, 7, 8), and a negligent father (1 Kings 1:6). His sins caused tremendous pain and anguish for himself, his family, and the nation. We know that God was aware of David’s sin and He cannot lie (1 Jn. 3:20, Heb. 6:18). We also know that God could not simply overlook the sins of David because of who David was (Acts 10:34, 1 Jn. 1:6). How then could God refer to David as someone who did only what was right?

The answer is great news for David and for you and me. Indeed, it is The Good News. God does not declare David righteous based on his keeping of the law. He does so based upon David’s connection to Jesus Christ through faith. Paul helps us to understand this in his letter to the Romans where he explains, 

“…the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law." (Romans 3:21-28)

David lived before Jesus was crucified but Paul explains that God had passed over former sins. He made His grace available to those who believed prior to the cross even though the sacrifice had yet to be made. It is because of people like David, just as much as you and I, that the cross was necessary. The cross is a vindication of God’s righteousness in light of His acceptance of sinners like David on whom God showed favor. The cross, as just punishment sin, means that God’s declaration about David is true because through faith God justifies the ungodly (Rom. 4:5). David, through faith, was a partaker in the promise to stand holy and blameless before God in Christ (Eph. 1:4). Christ was his righteousness.

Although Christ was not yet crucified when David was alive, the sacrifice was a certainty. So certain that it is often described as made before the foundation of the world. The very identity of God Himself was the basis of its inevitability. He is all knowing, all-powerful, all merciful, and his grace endures forever. Because of this, His promises are absolute certainties. David believed in the promises and trusted God. God’s declaration that David is righteous therefore stands on the same foundation as His declaration of the righteousness of sinners who believe today. 

We are also sinners who deserve punishment and yet are declared justified by God if we are united to Christ through faith. David knew he was a sinner saved by grace through faith. David understood that the righteousness credited to him was an act of grace through faith and was unearned. This is why Paul says “David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.” (Rom. 4:6-8)

God is just in not counting these sins because Christ has paid the penalty for them on behalf of those who believe (2 Cor. 5:21, 1 Pet. 2:24, 3:18). What a blessing it is to have such hope through the work of our wonderful savior. Jesus Christ saved David. We see the evidence of David’s faith in that although he sinned, he was repentant (Ps. 51:1-2). He was a child of grace whose desire was to glorify God and to worship Him alone. He was not a perfect man but was perfected through his union to Christ in faith (Heb. 10:14). I pray that the same is true for you.


  1. You are wrong. Davad was righteous because he repented of his sins and lived righteously thereafter. Paul's slight of hand and your excusing of sin is false religion.No one can pay for another's sins, and we may receive God's forgiveness with only sincere repentance, according to Jesus and the entire Hebrew Bible.

    You have been deceived by Christendom.

    1. Thanks Stephen. I agree that sincere repentance is a necessary to salvation. I do not excuse sin in any way. Repentance, however, would not make one righteous because only a sinner can repent. The sin must be dealt with and this is what Jesus Christ does for us. This is not just a doctrine taught by Paul. Jesus and Paul said the same thing about salvation. See John 3:15, 6:40-51, 11:25; Matt. 26:28; Mark 10:45, etc.

    2. Stephen...on his death bed, David asked Solomon to kill two people. Is that your opinion of "living righteously thereafter"?