Theme: Vindication from God
In this week’s lessons we learn how this psalm serves as a Messianic psalm, as Jesus enters into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday as Israel’s King.
Scripture: Psalm 24:1-10
2. Vindication from God. What will such a person find when he or she comes to God? The answer is in the second part of the worshiper’s qualifications, and it is twofold. First, she will find “blessing from the LORD.” Second, he will find “vindication from God his Savior” (v. 5).
This is a most remarkable verse, for it is an Old Testament expression of what we speak of as the doctrine of justification by faith. It tells us that the one who approaches God sincerely and trustingly will find salvation in him. This is not salvation by works, of course. It is similar to the case of the tax collector in Jesus’ story. Jesus contrasted him to the Pharisee who approached the temple self-righteously, saying: “God, I thank you that I am not like all other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.”
The tax collector stood at a distance. He was conscious of his sin and would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” Jesus said that it was this man, rather than the Pharisee, who went home justified (Luke 18:9-14).
David Dickson, a seventeenth century Scottish divine, wrote of these verses: “The holy life of the true believer is not the cause of his justification before God…but he shall receive justification and eternal life, as a free gift from God, by virtue of the covenant of grace: therefore it is said here that he shall receive righteousness from the God of his salvation.”2
I suggest that in order to understand verses 4 and 5, it is best to take the phrases in an inverse order. In other words, although it is true that we must approach God sincerely and trustingly to find salvation, it is better to say that these characteristics are provided for us by God as a result of justification. That is, they are part of the blessing that verse 5 promises. I would say that the order is like this: 1) vindication (or justification) from God our Savior (v.5b); 2) blessing from the Lord (v. 5a); and then 3) clean hands and a pure heart, resulting in a life which does not lift itself up to idols or swear falsely (v. 4). This is a way of saying that justification precedes sanctification. Only those who are born again can seek, find and know God.
I suppose this is what Charles Haddon Spurgeon was thinking about when he wrote of verse 6: “These are the regeneration [of them that seek him].”3
What two things are said to come to the person described in verse 4?
What doctrine does verse 5 express? Why does Dr. Boice reverse the order to help us understand verses 4 and 5?
Reflection: How do you see the fruits of justification in your own life?
2David Dickson, A Commentary on the Psalms, two volumes in one (Edinburgh and Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1985), p. 126. Original edition 1653-1655.3C. H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, vol. 1a, Psalms 1-26 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1968), p. 377.