Righteousness Brought to Light (Psalm 37:5-6 [7-8])
Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. ⁶He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. [⁷Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! ⁸Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.] —Psalm 37:5-6 [7-8]
Sitting in the darkness, a young man catches his breath as he sees the man who wants to kill him enter the cave. The king enters, knowing his army is waiting outside, standing watch. He is prepared to kill the young man. Unbeknownst to him or them, his target is in that very cave with the king. The current king seeking to kill, and the future king on the run.
Saul is unaware as the young man sneaks up on him. The young man draws his dagger, reaching toward Saul. Quietly, he slashes toward Saul, but surprisingly, not with intent to kill. Not with a desire to be avenged for all these months on the run from the man he served faithfully. This king, Saul, has rejected the plans of God and the young man who would fulfill them. The young man’s dagger cuts a piece of fabric from Saul’s clothing.
As Saul leaves the cave, the young man, too, steps out of the darkness. In the flood of daylight, David, the future king of Israel, holds up the symbol of his righteousness clear for all to see. The piece of Saul's garment is a shining symbol of his commitment to the ways of the Lord. “Look Saul, I could have taken your life, but I cannot lift my hand against the Lord’s anointed.” He committed his way to the Lord. The Lord has brought his righteousness into the light. Saul responds, saying, “You are more righteous than I, for you have repaid me good, whereas I repaid you evil" (1 Samuel 24:17).
David’s decision surprises me every time I read 1 Samuel. Saul was actively seeking David’s death. Wouldn’t David have been justified in taking the life of the one who sought to murder him? Isn’t that self-defense? Isn’t it justifiable?
David offers us the guiding truth that likely informed his decision in Psalm 37. By God’s inspiration, David wrote this Psalm in his old age (Psalm 37:25) as he reflected back over the course of his life. He brings to bear the wealth of his firsthand experience, not least of which was God’s faithfulness while Saul persecuted him. The psalm answers the question "how do those who fear the Lord respond to a wicked world?"
The encouragement David gives us in Psalm 37:5-6 is precious:
Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him, and He will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.
Commit your way to the Lord and trust in Him. This double emphasis should stir us to see the importance of placing our whole faith and trust in the Lord and in His ways. It means we can roll our burden onto Him and not respond to evil with more evil. If we will trust Him in this way, we won’t act out of self-righteousness but humbly place our life in the hands of the faithful Judge of all the earth. This we must do since, ultimately, we know that on our own merit, we fall short of His righteousness. We are totally dependent on the Lord for our right standing and this knowledge leads us to commit to and trust in Him.
It's when we commit to and trust in Him that the Lord will act. How will He act? What will He do? He will bring forth your righteousness and your justice into the blazing light. Your righteousness will be made visible—a righteousness and justice based not on your own merit or actions, but on the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Whatever opposition you face this day, may you commit your way to the Lord, trust in Him, and be found righteous because of Jesus.
Read the story of David and Saul in 1 Samuel 24. How difficult must it have been for David to commit his way to the Lord when the men around him, and perhaps his own flesh, desired to do evil?
As we seek to live sanctified lives, why is it important to keep the imputed righteousness of Jesus at the forefront of our mind? How does that motivate us toward holy living (Colossians 1:10)?
Who has done wrong to you this week? In your flesh, how do you want to respond? What would it look like if you committed your way to the Lord in that circumstance?