Today’s Scripture Lesson: Psalms 96 – 100
I encourage each of you to read these Psalms and allow the Holy Spirit to minister to you through His holy Word.
I hope you will forgive the large number of chapters being covered in one week. As you can imagine, with five chapters being covered, this Bible Study To GO! will be in no way a comprehensive breakdown. With that said, I find with large-chunk consumption of Scripture some patterns, which may be hidden in small-chunk study, are revealed and the Holy Spirit opens our eyes in new ways. Such was the case in preparing this week’s Bible Study To GO!
As I worked with these chapters, I kept taking notice of the word, righteousness. Allow me to extract these verses:
Before the LORD, for He is coming, for He is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in His faithfulness. (v. 13)
Clouds and thick darkness surround Him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne. (v. 2)
The heavens declare His righteousness, and all the peoples have seen His glory. (v. 6)
Light is sown like seed for the righteous and gladness for the upright in heart. Be glad in the LORD, you righteous ones, and give thanks to His holy name. (vs. 11-12)
O sing to the LORD a new song, for He has done wonderful things, His right hand and His holy arm have gained the victory for Him. The LORD has made known His salvation; He has revealed His righteousness in the sight of the nations. He has remembered His lovingkindness and His faithfulness to the house of Israel; all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God. (vs. 1-3)
Before the LORD, for He is coming to judge the earth; He will judge the world with righteousness and the peoples with equity. (v. 9)
The strength of the King loves justice; You have established equity; You have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob. (v. 4)
Also in verses 3, 5 and 9 of the 99th Psalm we read “Holy is He” and “for holy is the Lord our God.”
Take notice of vs 11-12 in Psalm 97. These verses don’t directly view the righteousness of God, but instead, they point toward the ones whom God calls, righteous. There is actually an important distinction here and it is ultimately the revealed truth in today’s study.
The Righteous Creator
I’d like to take you back to the opening days of creation in the first chapter of Genesis and lead you through the encounter in the garden where Adam and Eve ate of the fruit in chapter 3.
In Genesis 1:26 we read, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness . . .” In 1:27, we read “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”
Now, let’s apply this word “righteousness” to the opening chapter of Genesis. As righteousness is a facet of God’s image, we can reasonably state that God created humanity in His righteousness. When God looked upon His human creation He saw something. He saw His righteousness. Did He see the righteousness of His creation? No, He viewed His own righteousness.
The Bible never makes mention of Adam’s or Eve’s personal righteousness. As a result of this, we can understand that Adam and Eve were not righteous apart from God. Their righteousness could only be found in their Creator and, while in perfect relationship with Him, they reflected His righteousness perfectly.
If you’ll so indulge me, I’d like to spend time connecting more dots regarding His righteousness.
The Inadequacy of Self-Righteousness
In the third chapter of Genesis, we view the fall of humanity. Adam and Eve ate the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. It was the singular express commandment God forbade of His creation. In their disobedience, they entered into the knowledge of good and evil, bringing forth sin, guilt, shame, and desire for things which would draw them away from their Creator. They no longer reflected the righteousness of God. Instead, they projected their sinful desires.
Do you see how Adam’s and Eve’s righteousness was wholly contingent upon God? When they stepped into sin, they rejected His righteousness and they became sinful. Had they been righteous apart from God, they would have been righteous without Him after eating the fruit. Humanity abandoned and rejected God’s righteousness, and apart from Him there is no righteousness.
Isaiah 45:24 tells us, “Only in the Lord are righteousness and strength . . .”
You cannot find righteousness outside of God. You can try all you want to be good and righteous, but in looking toward your own efforts, you’ll always come up short.
Our Righteous Hope
There is a beautiful hope in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, though.
2 Corinthians 5:21 tells us, “He (God) made Him (Christ) who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
Philippians 3:9 tells us, “. . . not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith.”
I especially love the words of Psalm 98:1-3, which I have written above. They reveal that God’s righteousness has been revealed and His salvation has been seen. Here’s how I understand the relationship of these two words: God’s righteousness is the method of His salvation.
Psalm 99 tells us that God’s righteousness has been executed in Jacob (Israel). In other words, God’s method of salvation was executed in the Old Testament for His chosen people. God wasn’t viewing perfect adherence to the Law to establish righteousness. No, God was viewing His righteousness imparted on Israel through the Law.
As Jesus fulfilled the Law, He (God) imparted His (God’s) righteousness (Jesus) on all who receive the free gift of grace through faith in Jesus.
So, What’s the Play Call?
Well, the Psalms reveal that too:
- Sing to the Lord a new song, sing to the Lord, all the earth. (Ps 96:1)
- Let the earth rejoice. (Ps 97:1)
- Be glad in the Lord . . . give thanks to His holy name. (Ps. 97:12)
- Shout joyful . . . Sing praises to the Lord. (Ps. 98:4-5)
- Exalt the Lord our God and worship at His holy hill. (Ps. 99:9)
- Serve the Lord with gladness; come into His presence with joyful singing. (Ps. 100:2)