Psalm 18:20 “The Lord has dealt with me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands he has rewarded me” (NIV).

Observation: David exulted in God’s deliverance from all his enemies. He earlier likened such oppression to being entangled by cords of death and overwhelmed by torrents of destruction (see Ps. 18:4), yet a merciful God responded to his cry for help. Not only did God defeat David’s enemies but He “drew me out of deep waters” (v. 16) according to David’s righteousness and the cleanness of his hands.

Application: What thoughts occur as we read David’s writing of being dealt with according to his righteousness and clean hands? In isolation from surrounding verses, could the assumption be that God’s wrath would be against David rather than for him? Isn’t David the one whose reservoir of righteousness was on empty when he had Uriah killed to mask his affair with Bathsheba? Aren’t his supposedly clean hands the ones that caressed another man’s wife in adultery’s passion?

There is without doubt enough sin in David’s past to merit the fires of eternal hell. Yet here we see him not cowering from enemies justly unleashed by a vengeful God, but confidently expecting deliverance based upon his righteousness and cleanness.

My view of today’s verse is a clear reflection of what I really believe about forgiveness. David’s confidence in God’s rescue gives rise to an inner sense of undeservedness and perfectly mirrors my stunted ability to revel in my own forgiveness.

David had repented and had paid a horrible price for his sin. But while he surely had memory of those dark events for the rest of his days, they no longer had a hold on him. He was freed from the talons of unremitting guilt over something God had said was once and for all finished.

What is it within me that so enjoys reruns of old tapes of sin forgiven as though it’s grip is retained on me? It is arrogance and pride, thinking that my sin was so much more awful than most, that I must grovel in it yet a while longer. “You wait over there on the bleachers for another inning, Lord, while I mire myself in old mud again.” But hear God’s response, “He who has clean hands and a pure heart . . . will receive blessing from the Lord” (Ps. 24:4–5). I must accept what David knew: in Him, all things are made new.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, forgive me for continued maintenance of my library of old tapes. Cause me to daily rejoice in Your forgiveness purchased on a Roman cross from which You said, “It is finished.”