December 19

We Need Jesus’s Victorious Righteousness 

“When the righteous triumph, there is great glory, but when the wicked rise, people hide themselves… “When the wicked rise, people hide themselves, but when they perish, the righteous increase.” (Proverbs 28:12, 28)

How many times have you heard the song, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” this month? I am sure it’s playing right now in department stores and malls. “Have yourself a merry little Christmas. Let your heart be light From now on, our troubles will be out of sight. Have yourself a merry little Christmas, Make the Yule-tide gay, From now on, our troubles will be miles away.” This is a feel-good song that appeals to many people simply because it’s so benign. There is no mention of God, Jesus Christ, or his birth. But as I was studying for this devotion, I came across a mention of the hymn, “Jesus Shall Reign.” Stanza four specifically relates to the idea of a righteous people, who are free, open, and cherished. “The weary find eternal rest, And all the sons of want are blest.” Jesus Christ came to earth to die for us by imputing his righteousness to the elect for the increase of his kingdom and his glory. Our passage contrasts this to a time when influential wicked people make the righteous want to hide until those evil rulers are gone and righteousness can increase again. 

I also came across Psalm 72, about Solomon (most probably) continuing David’s reign as the king of justice and righteousness. “Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to the royal son! May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice! Let the mountains bear prosperity for the people, and the hills, in righteousness! May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the children of the needy, and crush the oppressor!…In his days may the righteous flourish, and peace abound, till the moon be no more!” On this side of the cross, we can’t help but think of Jesus Christ, as he is described in Isaiah 9: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder…Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore.” (Isaiah 9:6-7) Timothy and Kathy Keller write, “Only if you have experienced life in a country in which the state is corrupt and the rule of law has failed can you appreciate the blessing of good government…God is…deeply concerned about these things…[Psalm 72] provokes us to long for a better king than the best government has ever provided.” *

Here is an encouragement to look forward to the righteous rule of Christ in his second incarnation as we celebrate his first. Now is the day of God’s favor and the continuous imputation of Christ’s righteousness to the elect—a day of rejoicing for us.

* Keller, Timothy with Kathy Keller, “The Songs of Jesus,” Psalm 72:1-7, page 163 (June 12), Viking, New York, 2015

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