I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness; I will sing the praises of the name of the Lord Most High. (Psalm 7:17 NIV)
What is it that the author of Psalm 7 is celebrating in verse 17?
Not God’s mercy, not his grace, not his love or faithfulness, but his righteousness.
What is righteousness?
Surely it includes moral impeccability, being utterly sinless, having unquestionable motives, as well as upholding perfect justice and truth.
Why would anyone thank God for this. Isn’t this exactly what every man is not? And even more, isn’t this what rightfully condemns us as unworthy in God’s sight?
Surely holiness and righteousness are closely linked in the vision of Isaiah, when he cries out; “Woe to me! I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”
But, amazingly, we are a redeemed people, saved by grace and not only saved but sanctified and justified. In other words, made to be what we could never be, and this includes being made righteous.
But this righteousness is fully a gift, which could only be given by a saviour. A saviour who came from heaven and became one of us, but resisted all temptation, and maintained true and robust righteousness in its fullest sense. This genuine and hard kept righteousness enabled the saviour to rescue us by the offering of his unblemished personhood as a perfect sacrifice and propitiation for sinful humanity. Without righteousness, this was impossible. And this godly righteousness, both motivated, sustained and achieved a righteousness for all who believe.
God’s righteousness is not an icy cold, insurmountable (higher than the himalayas) wall that separates and judges us. It is loving, gracious righteousness that propitiates in order to maintain it’s glorious majesty, yet rescues the unreachable.
It is right to give thanks to God because of his righteousness. It is our righteous God who sent His righteous Son to make righteous those who could never be.
Thanks be to God.