January 19 – David: a righteous man???

January 19, 2019 Randy Bushey

~ by Randy Bushey

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them…not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished (Matthew 5:17,18).

How did David receive eternal life? In other words, how was David saved?

David is a great example of the Gospel, because he clearly did not earn salvation through his own righteousness.

Consider: David was a great man – maybe the greatest man to ever live in terms of natural ability and listed accomplishments.

He was the youngest of 8 sons, a good-looking teenager who exhibited confidence and faith. In addition to being physically powerful and athletic (he manhandled a lion and bear with his hands in protection of his sheep), he was a competent musician of sufficient skill to be in King Saul’s employ.

And he was the writer of over 70 psalms; he penned Psalm 23, one of most well-known poems in all of human literature.

David was a courageous soldier, a repeatedly successful military general, a revolutionary national administrator, and a skilled and godly king. And unlike other great figures of history, David was catapulted onto national stage while still only a teen.

Any one of those abilities would have propelled David to fame and prominence.

But David possessed them all. He is therefore legendary, the ultimate polymath.*

However, David was also only too human.

His shocking inability to discipline his children and inexplicable reluctance to confront and reign in his general Joab are 2 examples. But his most egregious sin was the slaying of his honourable and loyal soldier Uriah after David’s affair with Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba.

David could not claim personal righteousness before a holy God. And yet David was declared righteous.


David’s salvation came the same way that it does for Christ-followers today: through the perfect life and sacrificial death of Jesus, and repentant faith in His Gospel.

Even though David lived 1000 years before Christ, and knew nothing of the Cross he knew he stood as a sinner before a holy God. And, like Abraham, David trusted God to deal with that moral incompatibility.

David believed God.

The righteousness of Christ’s perfect life – the perfection of the One who came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets completely – was credited to David’s account because of his faith.

Paul explains in Romans 4:

…to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness (v.5).

And then Paul uses David as a primary exhibit of this truth, quoting from Psalm 32:

David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: “Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him” (v.6-8).

Takeaway: Bible readers often wrongly conclude that Old Testament saints were saved by observing the Law of Moses.

But nobody ever achieved that standard, at least not perfectly.

Until Jesus.

And Jesus lived against the backdrop of a system of Jews being taught a legalism that actually replaced God with the Law. It produced a distorted standard, a shameful, rather distasteful form of self-righteousness.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer put it this way: It was the error of Israel to put the law in God’s place, to make the law their God and their God a law…Jesus, the champion of the true law, must suffer at the hands of the champions of the false law.

Paul had been raised in that system, but came to realize the truth of the Gospel:

But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe (Romans 3:21,22).


* Wikipedia – a polymath is a person whose expertise spans a significant number of subject areas.

~ graphic from Enrico Nunziati, freeimages.com