Righteousness of David


The ‘exceeding’ righteousness (Matt.5:20), which is necessary to make us worthy to enter into the kingdom of the heavens, is vividly portrayed in the attitude of David towards Saul. Saul, because of his disobedience, was rejected by God from being king. (1Sam.15:23) and God chose and anointed David to be king in the place of Saul. (1Sam.16:13). In addition to being chosen by God, David was having proven capabilities and wide popularity. Yet he waited patiently for many years before God gave him the crown. In the face of many temptations and trying situations David endured patiently. For none of his faults David had to endure much shame and sufferings. He had to spend many days alone in great distress with the painful sensation of the ingratitude of those for whom he had risked his life. He endured all these hardships without avenging himself, without seeking to harm those who reject him.

On two occasions during those difficult years, David was faced with a great temptation to do away with his ruthless enemy, Saul. First, at the cave of Engedi, David’s men said to him, “This is the day of which the Lord said to you, Behold I will deliver your enemy into your hand, that you may do to him as it seems good to you.” (1Sam.24:4). What an opportunity for this fugitive to legitimately get rid of his merciless persecutor! Instead, he merely cuts off the skirt of Saul’s robe (to prove what he could have done) and lets him go unscathed. Even this insignificant and harmless infliction, pricked his tender heart so deeply that David cried out to Saul, “…let the Lord avenge me on you. But my hand shall not be against you.” (1Sam.24:12). Reproved by his conscience, Saul formally declared “…you are MORE RIGHTEOUS than I, for you have rewarded me good, whereas I have rewarded you with evil “the Lord delivered me into your hand, you did not kill me “therefore may the Lord reward you with good for what you have done to me this day “I know indeed that you shall surely be KING”  (1Sam.24:17-20). Even after all this Saul’s attitude towards David continued to be hostile.

Later at the hill of Hachilah (1Sam.26:3-25) David got another chance to do away with his dreaded enemy and ensure the kingdom for himself. This time the temptation is even greater, since Abishai offers to kill the sleeping king, Saul. But David refused to agree to slay his terrible enemy. Later that night, when Saul came to know how David spared his life once more, expressed his deep feelings of gratitude. Then said David, “May the Lord repay every man for his righteousness”

Later on David refused to accept the crown, even from the Amalekite who brings it to him after having robbed it from the corpse of Saul on Mount Gilboa. (2Sam.1). David judged the man and killed him for having laid hands on Saul. From all these, we can see how David never harbored any anger, hatred or ill will against Saul. The Lord Himself worked on his behalf and in due time crowned David through the hand of his people (2Sam.2:4, 5:1-3). When David was finally installed as king, he could testify, “The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands hath he recompensed me. (2Sam.22:21-26).

Here we see a clear picture of what our Lord meant when He said, “Except your righteousness exceed you shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matt.5:20). The issues relating to our eternal destiny are settled once for all by HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS. But our entry and participation in the Messianic Kingdom will depend on OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. When we, believers, stand before the judgment seat of Christ (2Cor.5:10, Rom.14:10,12), all the thoughts, words and deeds that have transpired in our lives (after being born-again) will be subject to very strict scrutiny by our Lord. He will judge all our hidden motives and intentions. (1Cor.4:5). None of us will be able to claim that we have led a perfect and blameless life from the day we accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour. Nevertheless, in relation to His Judgment of all believers on that day, our Lord has said, Blessed are the merciful; for they shall obtain mercy. (Matt.5:7) Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. (Luke 6:36, 37) For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matt.6:14, 15) For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment. (James 2:13)

The above verses have nothing to do with the free gift of eternal life. But these verses refer to the issues related to our entry and participation in the millennial kingdom. This will be decided at the judgment seat of Christ. These verses signify the “exceeding righteousness” which can be wrought in our lives if we submit to our Lord, and endure the discipline which He allows to come our way, always finding the grace to overcome in adverse circumstances. Not recognizing/understanding these facts is one of the principal causes of the prolonged and often-permanent spiritual immaturity we see amongst the majority of believers today.