Meditations on the Psalms #59

Day 59

Psalm 31 part 2

This Psalm of David begins in a similar way to many of his other Psalms – with a declaration of trust in God in a time of trouble. See yesterday’s devotional.

Early in the 16th Century, Martin Luther was teaching through the Psalms, verse-by-verse at the University of Wittenberg. In his teaching, he came upon Psalm31:1. The passage confused him; how could God’s righteousness deliver him? The righteousness of God – His great justice – could only condemn him to Hell as a righteous punishment for his sins.

One night up in a tower in the monastery, Luther thought about this passage in the Psalms and also read Romans 1:17. Luther said he thought about this day and night until he finally understood what the righteousness of God revealed by the gospel is. It is not speaking of the holy righteousness of God that condemns the guilty sinner, but of the God-kind of righteousness that is given to the sinner who puts their trust in Jesus Christ.

Luther said of this experience: “I grasped the truth that the righteousness of God is that righteousness whereby, through grace and sheer mercy, he justifies us by faith. Therefore, I felt myself to be reborn and to have gone through open doors into paradise… This passage of Paul became to me a gateway into heaven.” Martin Luther was born again, and the reformation began in his heart.

We have noted already that Jesus said v5 from the cross: NB He did not surrender His life to death and destruction, but in a triumphant consciousness to the Father for resurrection. These were also the last recorded words of Stephen, Polycarp, Bernard, Huss, Jerome, Luther, Melanchthon and many others who were about to expire. I hope they will be mine as well. 

When John Huss was condemned to be burned at the stake, the bishop who conducted the ceremony ended with the chilling words, ‘And now we commit thy soul to the devil.’ Huss replied calmly, ‘I commit my spirit into thy hands, Lord Jesus Christ; unto thee I commend my spirit, which thou hast redeemed.’

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