[Aug 02]—David’s Sweet Song

Romans 4:5-8

            Like I said before, Paul presents two major pieces of evidence for his case that we’re saved by grace through faith in Christ alone. The first was Abraham, the physical father of the Jewish people and (as he states later) the spiritual father of all who believe. Now we turn to his second piece of evidence: David.
            Why did Paul choose a Psalm of David?
            Well, obviously he’s considered by conventional wisdom to be the greatest king Israel ever had. If you read the history books of the Bible, every king is compared to him, and none of them measure up until we get to Hezekiah and Josiah. Nearly all of the Psalms which name their author cite him as their source, and many of the promises of Israel’s great future were made to him or about him. It was also commonly understood (rightly) that the Messiah would be descended from him. There’s a reason why when someone wanted to address Jesus as the Messiah, they used the term “Son of David.” Of all the O. T. saints who were considered pivotal to God’s dealings with his people, he was one of the top three, the others being Abraham and Moses.
            But there’s another reason here which we can miss. Imagine someone who objects to Paul’s teaching. They might respond “Sure, Abraham was counted as righteous because he believed in God. But he was dealing with God before the Law of Moses was given. Once Moses came along, everything changed. Now we’re under the Law. In order to be right with God, you have to be circumcised and obey it.”
            Now, to be sure, there are differences between the Old Covenant and the New One. If there weren’t, there would’ve been no need for the New One at all. All you need to do is read the book of Hebrews, particularly 12:18-24 to get a great summary of how different they really are, epitomized by what we can call “The Mountain of Fear” versus “The Mountain of Joy.”
            But to bolster his case, Paul cites David, who was under the Old Covenant, the Law of Moses. David offered animal sacrifices. He kept the dietary laws. He wrote Psalm 19, which has a wonderful tribute to the benefits of God’s word, which in those days mainly was the Torah. He loved God’s instructions as given to Moses.
            But he needed God’s forgiveness as much as anyone else. If you see the footnote, you know that Paul is quoting Psalm 32. The traditional understanding of the 32nd Psalm is that David wrote it after the episode with Bathsheba and Uriah. Whether that’s true or not, it certainly is consistent with that understanding. That was David’s absolutely lowest point in his life as far the Lord was concerned. The “man after God’s own heart” fell into dereliction of duty, lust, adultery, and finally murder. It wasn’t a killing on the battlefield, or even a duel gone horribly wrong. David used Uriah to deliver the message to Joab that contained the orders to kill this honorable man. This was cold-blooded murder of an innocent man who had not only had never done him harm, but who was one of his finest and bravest warriors, one of the “Thirty” (see here, and notice the last verse).
            There was no animal sacrifice for adultery or murder, and David had committed both. That’s why he said in the 51st Psalm “You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.” He could've killed a thousand bulls, goats, rams, and lambs, and it never would've blotted out what he did.
            But the Lord did forgive him. He told David (through his prophet Nathan) that he had "taken away" his sin and would not carry out the death penalty that the Law called for. Apparently there was a sacrifice, a way to cover his sin. In David’s day, in his pre-N.T. understanding, all he offered to God was “a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart.” And Paul used the 32nd Psalm to make us grasp that even under the Old Covenant, that was what God was really looking for. When someone really confessed and repented, the Lord forgave.
            What was the result of David’s confession and repentance? What was his testimony which he offers to us today? Let’s review:

  • Our transgressions are forgiven.
  • Our sins are covered.
  • The Lord will never count our sin against us.
Remember, the book of Romans is the most complete presentation of the Good News about Jesus.
Once we place our faith in Christ, once we receive him as our Boss and Savior, we too can testify to this blessedness. David’s sweet song is ours.

Truly Lord Jesus, how blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered, and the one against whom you’ll never count his sins. How blessed am I.

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