The Rewards of the Righteous
The Psalms tell us a lot about God’s character and also how He deals with mankind. Who He is and what He requires of us are important for us to know: how else can we serve Him? We are going to look at Psalm 18, especially verses 24-26, which tells us how God will reward our righteousness by our godly living.
Psalm 18:24-26 tells us this: “Therefore the Lord has recompensed me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in His eyes. With the kind Thou dost show Thyself kind; with the blameless Thou dost show Thyself blameless; with the pure Thou dost show Thyself pure; and with the crooked Thou dost show Thyself astute.” We want to take a closer look at these verses to see what God’s word is exactly telling us about God.
The Backstory Behind This Psalm
We see the author of this psalm writes a note of instruction to the choir director, so we know that this psalm was used for worship in the temple. The note reads, “A Psalm of David the servant of the Lord, who spoke to the Lord the words of this song in the day that the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul.” We know from Scripture that David was anointed king while Saul was still king. 1 Samuel 16:13-14 tells us, “Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon David from that day forward. And Samuel arose and went to Ramah. Now the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD terrorized him.” So this Psalm-made-song was about David and his now enemy King Saul.
Now, this was not the first song sung about David and Saul. “Then the priest said, ‘The sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom you killed in the valley of Elah, behold, it is wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod; if you would take it for yourself, take it. For there is no other except it here.’ And David said, ‘There is none like it; give it to me.’ Then David arose and fled that day from Saul, and went to Achish king of Gath. But the servants of Achish said to him, ‘Is this not David the king of the land? Did they not sing of this one as they danced, saying, “Saul has slain his thousands, And David his ten thousands”?’” (1 Samuel 21:9-11).
We continue to see this conflict all throughout 1 Samuel. 1 Samuel 22:2-3 gives us insight into the danger that David was in—even his family was not safe. This scripture also shows David as the champion of the poor and needy. “So David departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam; and when his brothers and all his father’s household heard of it, they went down there to him. Everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented gathered to him; and he became captain over them. Now there were about four hundred men with him. And David went from there to Mizpeh of Moab; and he said to the king of Moab, ‘Please let my father and my mother come and stay with you until I know what God will do for me.’” David, even though he was running from King Saul, still knew that for now Saul was the king, and so he was God’s anointed and he must have respect and honor for his authority.
So when David had the chance to kill his enemy, he did not. 1 Samuel 24:10-12 tells us of such a time. “Behold, this day your eyes have seen that the LORD had given you today into my hand in the cave, and some said to kill you, but my eye had pity on you; and I said, ‘I will not stretch out my hand against my lord, for he is the LORD’S anointed.’ Now, my father, see! Indeed, see the edge of your robe in my hand! For in that I cut off the edge of your robe and did not kill you, know and perceive that there is no evil or rebellion in my hands, and I have not sinned against you, though you are lying in wait for my life to take it. May the LORD judge between you and me, and may the LORD avenge me on you; but my hand shall not be against you.” David referred to Saul as father because he was married to Saul’s daughter Michal (1 Samuel 18:20).
David had another chance to kill Saul, but once again refused to strike down God’s anointed. “But David said to Abishai, ‘Don’t destroy him! Who can lay a hand on the LORD’s anointed and be guiltless? As surely as the LORD lives,’ he said, ‘the LORD himself will strike him, or his time will come and he will die, or he will go into battle and perish. But the LORD forbid that I should lay a hand on the LORD’s anointed. Now get the spear and water jug that are near his head, and let’s go.’ So David took the spear and water jug near Saul’s head, and they left. No one saw or knew about it, nor did anyone wake up. They were all sleeping, because the LORD had put them into a deep sleep” (1 Samuel 26: 9-12).
Even though David was anointed king, he spent many years fleeing King Saul. God will always test His people, and through His testing we are made into vessels that He can use for His glory. “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4).
But the day came when God removed the enemies of David, especially King Saul. At the end of 1 Samuel we are told that Saul and his 3 sons died in battle. “Now the Philistines fought against Israel; the Israelites fled before them, and many fell dead on Mount Gilboa. The Philistines were in hot pursuit of Saul and his sons, and they killed his sons Jonathan, Abinadab and Malki-Shua” (1 Samuel 31:1-2). David now knows that he will be king, but this was not a time of celebration, but of great sorrow. David writes a song and has the people learn it as a memorial to Saul and his son Jonathan. 2 Samuel 1:17-27 says, “David took up this lament concerning Saul and his son Jonathan, and he ordered that the people of Judah be taught this lament of the bow (it is written in the Book of Jashar): ‘A gazelle lies slain on your heights, Israel. How the mighty have fallen!’” (verses 17-19).
Now that we have seen the backstory and we have seen how David conducted his life, we can now look at Psalm 18:24-26. Verse 24 says, “Therefore the Lord has recompensed me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in His eyes.” The Bible tells us that our hands should be holy hands, lifting them up in prayer to God (1 Timothy 2:8, Leviticus 9:22). We should not use our hands to sin. Yeshua (Jesus) tells us, “If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off, and throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to go to hell” (Matthew 5:30). We see the importance of having clean hands. Psalm 18:21-22 tells us David’s words: “For I have kept the ways of the Lord, and have not wickedly departed from my God. For all His ordinances were before me, and I did not put away His statutes from me.” The choices that we make to keep God’s ways are considered our righteousness.
So how did God recompense David? We must consider that recompense is compensation or reward given for loss or harm or effort made. God made a covenant with David, as we see in 2 Samuel 7: 8-11, 16: “Now then, tell my servant David, ‘This is what the Lord Almighty says: I took you from the pasture, from tending the flock, and appointed you ruler over my people Israel. I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have cut off all your enemies from before you. Now I will make your name great, like the names of the greatest men on earth. And I will provide a place for my people Israel and will plant them so that they can have a home of their own and no longer be disturbed. Wicked people will not oppress them anymore, as they did at the beginning and have done ever since the time I appointed leaders over my people Israel. I will also give you rest from all your enemies. . . . Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.”
This now takes us back to the beginning of this newsletter. Verses 25-26 tell us, “Therefore the Lord has recompensed me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in His eyes. With the kind Thou dost show Thyself kind; with the blameless Thou dost show Thyself blameless; with the pure Thou dost show Thyself pure; and with the crooked Thou dost show Thyself astute.” David was righteous before God because he did the right thing regarding Saul. He knew that Saul was the anointed of God and only God could remove Saul as being king and leader of God’s people. When David had the chance to kill Saul, he did not lift a finger toward him in evil. David’s hands were clean from the blood of his enemy. David showed kindness and mercy. He loved his enemy and did not take revenge upon him. Yeshua tells us in Luke 6:27-31, “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. Luke continues in verses 35b-36, “Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” Because of David’s kindness, God showed him kindness. David withheld his hand against Saul, which made him blameless, and so God rendered him blameless and this led to David being pure in heart and action, and so God blessed him. We also see that Saul’s jealousy and his contempt toward David caused him to lose, not only his kingship, but his life in battle, thus allowing the way for David to become king.
How about us? Can we say that we love our enemies? Do we show kindness to those who may not deserve our kindness? Can we say that our motives and our actions are pure? David was not swift to shed blood. How about us? Do we have feet that are swift to do evil? Peter tells us in 1 Peter 3:8-12, “Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For, ‘Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.’”
Today, we are living in a world filled with hateful speech. We are divided as a country, and as Paul tells Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:1-5, “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.”
Today, let us be more like King David who did not take vengeance or revenge, but let us love one another, and the kindness that we show will be shown to us. God wants a people without spot or wrinkle. That means that we must be blameless and pure and righteous in all that we do and say. Then we too can say like David, “Therefore the Lord has recompensed me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in His eyes. With the kind Thou dost show Thyself kind; with the blameless Thou dost show Thyself blameless; with the pure Thou dost show Thyself pure; and with the crooked Thou dost show Thyself astute.”