In the last two posts, we examined righteousness from multiple angles. Yes, righteousness is walking upright and having right judgments, but it is also gracious, compassionate, kind, just to the wicked, and faithful to the remnant.
As New Testament believers, God has given us a covenant promise. If we sin, he is faithful to cleanse us of all unrighteousness. He washed us clean from our sinful lives, but even when we sin, he remains faithful and cleanses us repeatedly.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9
This covenant promise shows the glory, righteousness, and faithfulness of God. This is the very glory, righteousness, and faithfulness that we—as God’s people—are called to imitate.
You have commanded Your testimonies in righteousness
And exceeding faithfulness. Psalm 119:138
God’s testimonies come forth from his righteousness. His righteousness is the framework in which all commands, testimonies, statutes, and promises are built.
Let’s take a closer look at this framework through the lenses of Psalm 19:7-9:
The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.
The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.
The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether.
All of these verses were written within God’s righteousness framework. And because we can’t divorce God from his word—and because he has commanded us to imitate him—we must also be clean, enduring, and true. These are elements we must walk by every day of our lives.
The Easy Life vs. The Righteous Life
My zeal has consumed me,
Because my adversaries have forgotten Your words. Psalm 119:139
The New American Standard Bible doesn’t seem to paint the correct picture here, so let’s take a look at the Hebrew wording as well as a couple of other translations. The word for the phrase ‘hath consumed me’ is samat. This word means “to put an end to, cut off, destroy, exterminate, extirpate.”
Young’s Literal Translation translates the verse as, “Cut me off hath my zeal, For mine adversaries, forgot Thy words.”
The Darby Bible translates it as, “My zeal destroyeth me because mine oppressors have forgotten thy words.”
This is quite a different picture than “consume.” In this picture, we see David’s zeal has put him in a position where opportunities were lost to him. This was a position that caused him to have enemies.
When we walk in righteousness, we will find ourselves in the same spot. If we are righteous, faithful, gracious, compassionate, and kind as God is, our zeal will attract negative attention. We should expect God’s enemies (those who refuse to walk in his word) to turn against us.
Jesus himself told us the same thing. He told us to expect trouble and tribulation in this world. One of the reasons we don’t experience persecution is because we don’t walk in the ways of the Lord. A truth we cannot forget is that God never promised us an easy life. Quite the opposite happens when we imitate him by walking in true righteousness.If we are righteous, faithful, gracious, compassionate, and kind as God is, our zeal will attract negative attention. Click To Tweet
Zeal for God’s Word
Because for Your sake, I have borne reproach;
Dishonor has covered my face.
I have become estranged from my brothers
And an alien to my mother’s sons.
For zeal for Your house has consumed me,
And the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on me. Psalm 69:7-9
There is a zeal that is supposed to consume God’s people. A zeal for God’s perfect word. We should want and eagerly desire God’s commands. They make wise the simple. Why would we not want to be zealous for his truths?
We’ve heard it said, “I love God’s word, but I don’t always like it.” Is this an acceptable attitude? What is the right disposition toward God’s word? The right disposition is David’s attitude. God’s word rejoiced his heart. He loved it so much he was willing to be persecuted for that love. This was also true of Jesus.
“Zeal for Your house will consume me.” John 2:17
What is the context of this verse? Jesus had just turned the table in the temple. Why? Because he was facing the same thing, David had faced. His zeal had put an end to him because his adversaries had forgotten God’s word.
What was Jesus walking in when he turned the tables? Righteousness. Zeal for the word of God. Why? Because he was passionate about God’s word. It consumed his heart. Church, there is a wide chasm from the idea that “I love God’s word, but I don’t always like it” to Jesus’s actions in John 2.
If we act like David and Jesus, the natural end of our actions is that people will not like us much. And we may not like it when we realize our journey toward eternity is a race to the back of the line.
So how do we race to the end of the line? How do we put the needs of one another first and come under one another to serve? We do it according to God’s terms. We do it in righteousness.
True righteousness is more significant than we previously understood. Righteousness that would spur us to race toward the back of the line is faithful, gracious, compassionate, kind, just to the wicked, and faithful to the brethren. If we can wrap our minds around this, the way we live our lives will change. The way we walk after God will change. The way we mimic our Lord will change.How do we race to the end of the line? How do we put the needs of one another first and come under one another to serve? We do it according to God’s terms. #righteousness Click To Tweet
Your word is very pure,
Therefore Your servant loves it. Psalm 119:140
What does Scripture mean by pure? It’s like precious metals that have been refined by fire. In Psalm 12 David says,
The words of the Lord are pure words;
As silver tried in a furnace on the earth, refined seven times. Psalm 12:6
I think each of us is looking for good advice during this time. We seek the latest expert opinions and desperately want to know what absolute truth it. But we are seeking it from fallible humans.
God says his word is pure, and it’s not just pure; it’s seven-times pure. Did you know that in Scripture, seven is the number for perfection? God’s word is pure to the perfect level.
Why aren’t we looking to this source of perfectly pure knowledge when we need advice, understanding, and authority? Sadly, God’s word is often the last place we turn.
David showed us that if we are righteous, then we will be zealous for God’s perfectly pure word. If we really want help or revival, we must seek the word of God. Not only seek it, but we must also submit to it. Only then will we have revival.God's word is often the last place we look for advice. Why? It is the source of perfectly pure knowledge, understanding & authority. Click To Tweet
Submission to the Word
The truth of the matter is, we don’t like to submit to God’s word. But there’s no greater truth than his word. It’s perfectly purified truth. It’s everlasting truth. It’s truth that never falters and never returns void.
It’s a great treasure and our path to deliverance, yet we leave it on the shelf to collect dust. Church, we need to press mute on the world’s distractions and open God’s word.
God’s word never let David down, and it won’t let us down either. I promise it will change and transform who we are. This is why we should love it.
The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. Psalm 19:8
Do we want our hearts to rejoice? Open his word. Trust it. Obey it.
Waiting on the Lord
I rise before dawn and cry for help;
I wait for Your words. Psalm 119:147
This is the sound of a man who loves God’s word. From morning to evening, David was focused on it. This attitude of devotion should be understood in the same light as Paul’s. “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” God’s word, his presence, and his help should be ever-present in our minds. We don’t need to quit our day jobs and focus only on God. Instead, we need a God-focused lifestyle where our devotion to him colors our every action.
In David and Paul’s audible society, they memorized and meditated on the word. We would do well to imitate this, meditating on Scripture both day and night. We need something in our mind that comes quickly and bring us peace when we run into the hardships of day-to-day existence. We need the knowledge hidden away in our heart that says I’m at peace; God is for me, He has me.
David was ousted on many occasions in his life, but he ran to God every time. He may have been small and despised, but he did not forget God’s precepts.
We may feel small and despised in our lives. We may be crying out to God, wondering why things aren’t going as we think they should. Beware first of selfish ambition. But when we have checked our hearts and see that we are pursuing God’s kingdom with a godly ambition, we can take solace in his word.What do we do when we feel small and despised? When we're crying out to God, wondering why things aren’t going as we think they should. Click To Tweet
Trouble and anguish have come upon me,
Yet Your commandments are my delight.
Your testimonies are righteous forever;
Give me understanding that I may live. Psalm 119:143-144
Give us understanding that we might live. We must ask ourselves if we understand rightly. Scripture uses terms that we are familiar with. Some of us have spent a lifetime in church. But we must push away the lie that familiarity is understanding.
We cannot take a teaching, a lexicon, or a Bible dictionary wholesale. Scripture means something by the terms it uses, and it is our job to study to find the true meaning.
When we understand more fully, we desire to be like our God. I encourage you to study God’s word. Give your heart to it. It will fundamentally transform your life. You will have the heart of David, a man who understood that the word of God was faithfulness, justice, grace, compassion, and kindness. We want to be righteous like that.
Understand the words written on the page in their true context. It will delight you, bring you peace and revival, and grow you in righteousness. God is righteous. His word is righteous. We are called to be the same.We cannot take a teaching, a lexicon, or a Bible dictionary wholesale. Scripture means something by the terms it uses, and it is our job to study to find the true meaning. Click To Tweet
Are there any Scriptural terms in which you see a larger picture than the traditional understanding? Iron sharpens iron; I’d love to hear your thoughts. Comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.