One of the more important parts about this Psalm is the author.
David is often called “a man after God’s own heart.” David stands as an example of honor, holiness and righteousness. David is someone we are called to admire and emulate, right? We tell our kids about this great king.
Then we read Psalm 51. We hear of David’s disobedience and sin. We hear of his adultery with Bathsheba. We hear how he went further, having Uriah killed.
So what do we do with this? Do we write David off as a fraud? No. He’s a model for all of us, in his great leadership and in his repentance and hope.
Turn to Psalm 143 with me. David introduces us to the key of all of Christian life and sanctification.
“Hear my prayer, O Lord, give ear to my pleas for mercy! In your faithfulness answer me, in your righteousness! Enter not into judgment with your servant, for no one living is righteous before you.”
No one living is righteous before God. No one. Not David, not Abraham, not John the Baptist. Not John Piper, Billy Graham, or any other “famous” Christian you can name is righteous before God based on their own merit or personal holiness.
By God’s grace, I’m not the same man I used to be. I’m learning what it means to have faith, and what it means to follow Jesus. But I still fail constantly. I still sin and make mistakes, even as a leader. I’ve had to confess sins and mistakes to my brothers and sisters in Christ, and they have exhibited much grace and patience, just as our Lord does.
I am in need of the gospel everyday. And so was David. That’s why he cries out for God to hear his prayer according to His faithfulness and righteousness, not that of David.
I cannot expect God to save me because I have earned it, or said the right things to earn His favor, or gone to church enough. I humbly await and expect salvation because I believe in Christ’s righteousness for me. 2 Corinthians 5:21 tells us that “He became sin who knew no sin so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” Through faith in Jesus to make me right before God, I am saved and declared righteousness because of the perfect obedience and righteousness of Christ.
David goes on to talk about how his enemy has overtaken him. He tells the Lord that he remembers what He has done, and how he longs for Him and His presence.
David says, “Hide not your face from me, lest I be like those who go down to the pit.” This is a prayer of the righteous king of Israel. This is coming from a dude we’re all told was the man of all man, the king of Israel, a “man after God’s own heart.” And he’s praying that God would show him His face so that he doesn’t die?
So David had struggles too. He goes on to pray that God would show him His love in the morning, and to confess and proclaim his trust in the Lord (v.8). He asks God to teach him to do His will. And he expresses confidence in God’s promises and deliverance.
The truth is, we all need the good news of Christ’s righteousness every day. We need the good news of full atonement every day. We need the good news to bring us to confident repentance, humble joy, peace, and a love for others. No matter how much we may progress and mature, we are trusting that Jesus walked the road before us and is our righteousness before the Father.
Any other faith, any other “righteousness” or any other gospel leads to hell.
May we trust in Your righteousness, Lord Jesus. May we not just talk about it, but do it and proclaim it. May we be changed by it, as we lean on the One who loves us. May we continually come back to the gospel, to the good news of what You have done for us, and put all of our hope, faith, trust, love and affections in You. May we give our lives to You, to make this grace and righteousness known.
If you have any questions, comments, concerns or something you’d like me to write about, please feel free to leave a comment here or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org