Forgiven in Righteousness – Psalm 51:14

“Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,
O God of my salvation,
and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.”

Psalm 51:14

There is a contrast in this verse that is stirring my heart this morning. David, the writer of this psalm, links deliverance from bloodguiltiness – and he is guilty of someone’s death – with God’s righteousness.

But on the surface, that isn’t righteousness, is it? For a holy, just God to deliver a guilty person from guilt? We would not view a judge as acting justly who allows a guilty person to walk free, perhaps especially one who intentionally got someone killed.

This is a major contradiction that must be dealt with. For God to forgive this sin (or any sin) and remain righteous and just, something must happen.

And so, Jesus enters the scene.
“But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forth as a propitiation [(one who satisfies God’s wrath and turns it to favor for us)] by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:21-26).

Jesus came to take on the wrath of God, which we were rightfully due as the just payment for our sin and rebellion against His ways, to satisfy it and turn it to favor for us. So God could forgive us, could show us mercy and love and pour out His grace upon us, while upholding His throne in justice and righteousness.

In 1 John 1:9, we read, “If we confess our sins, [God] is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” God’s wrath was so thoroughly satisfied through the death of His Son that His justice now is demonstrated not in punishment, but in His forgiveness of those who put their faith in Jesus to save them. Jesus’ blood has already paid that price for those who believe, and He paid it completely. So, through Christ, God’s throne becomes one of grace that we can approach with confidence, confessing our sins and finding forgiveness, cleansing from all unrighteousness, and grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16).

What great love is shown here, in this sacrifice that saves us.

Because our sin is very personal to God. It is direct rebellion against His authority, His worth, His holiness, His wisdom, His magnificent glory. This isn’t a situation where we hurt a third party and God chose to deliver us from that consequence. No, we hurt Him. We essentially looked Him in the face and said, no, I’m going to do this differently because I prefer to go a different way. Disregarding His commands that show us how to live in light, holiness, and peace with Him. Wanting to decide for ourselves and be our own ruler, casting aside the sovereign King and dismissing His majesty.

And yet. And yet He loves us. He desires to save us. He longs for us to know Him, not because He needs us but simply because of His great love. He knows the devastating consequences, the death that comes from sin, and He aches to rescue us from not just the consequences but from sin itself – so He sent His Son to die, that all who believe in Him would live.

And because of this wonderful reality, this unshakable and unchanging truth, we know that if we come to Him, as David did in Psalm 51, placing our faith in Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection, we will be forgiven. We will be cleansed. We will be made new.

“Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin!

For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
and blameless in your judgment.
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.

Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will return to you.
Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,
O God of my salvation,
and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.
O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”

Psalm 51:1-17

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