Q: Does David seem to show signs of arrogance in some of the things he writes in the Psalms? For example, Ps. 18: 20-24, “The Lord has dealt with me according to my righteousness;, according to the cleanness of my hands he has rewarded me. For I have kept the ways of the Lord; I have not turned away from his decrees. I have been blameless before him and have kept myself from sin. The Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight.” NIV I know David is known as the man after God’s own heart, but every time I read this passage, I feel like David is saying he DESERVED God’s blessing. Am I wrong?
A: I can totally understand why someone could think this way. It certainly, on first glance, can look like David is saying, “God is good to me because I. Am. Awesome.”
There are three things to keep in mind, however:
- Context of time this was written: this was written during the time of Israel’s Old Covenant Law. God gave Israel commandments, so keeping the commandments would naturally (I imagine) make you feel like, “God has to be happy with me! I am striving to live according to His Law.” I know from the Old Testament that many Israelites held a similar sentiment.
- Context of Psalms in Scripture: Under inspiration, Psalms was written as men were moved by the Holy Spirit. But the Psalms are often directed towardsGod! So God inspired these men to write divinely chosen words that would be cried out / prayed to the Lord Himself! So for this to be recorded in your Bible, the Holy Spirit is who inspired David to write these words in the first place.
- Context of this passage itself: Before we think David was too much into himself, look at some of the other verses in the Psalm. Specifically, look at how David is acknowledging that God is his strength.
- v2 – God is my stronghold and shield
- 3,6 – I called upon the Lord
- v27 – God saves the humble
- v28 – God lights my lamp
- v29 – by my God I can leap over a wall (!)
- v32 – God equips with strength
- v35 – God’s right hand supports me
You get the point. On one hand, yes he says he has been striving to keep himself from sin. Yet on the other hand, his language regarding God’s power in his life is pretty clear.
I would just remind you of:
Jeremiah 9:23-24: Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”
Boast away. Just make sure the spotlight of your boasting shines on Jesus, not you.
p.s. -SO CLOSE to getting all of our questions in Sunday...