King David is considered the most righteous of all the kings of ancient Israel. How did David receive his righteousness before God? The Apostle Paul said, “And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works (Romans 4:5).”
The Apostle goes on to quote Psalm 32, “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 (Romans 4:7-8; see also Psalm 32:1-2).”
The blessed person in this Psalm refers to, in contemporary language, the happy and whole person. This person is living life the way it was meant to be lived. According to the Holy Scriptures, David’s works did not justify him before God. Rather, David claimed quite the opposite. His transgression and iniquities should have cut him off from God’s righteousness. He should be called the cursed person, not the blessed person.
Many of us are tempted to approach God saying, “Lord, I thank you that I am not like other people, people who do all sorts of bad things. I go to church once a week. I contribute to the community at large. I’m a good employee; a reasonable mother or father. Please bless me, Father, for all that I have done.” We can no more prop ourselves up to receive such blessing, than the architects of the Tower of Babel were able to make a name for themselves on earth (Genesis 11:1-9). Rather, as Jesus said, we are to approach God, beating our chest, and saying, “Please, Lord, be merciful to me a sinner (see Luke 18:9-14).”
Last week we saw that the greatest acts cannot earn a righteous standing before God (see Romans 4:1-4). Here we see our worst failures do not permanently cut us off from God. Justification by faith alone makes our salvation entirely about God, and not about what we have or have not done. What made David a blessed person was that he confessed his sin and received God’s forgiveness.
Many of us are tempted to think of ourselves more highly than we are and then wonder why we are so sad and discontent. Our joy comes from the knowledge that, in Christ, our sins are forgiven, and we are counted righteous before God.