“May it never be! Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar, as it is written, ‘That Thou mightest be justified in Thy words, And mightest prevail when Thou art judged.’ ” – Romans 3:4
The apostle Paul, in answering those who would say the Jews record of unbelief nullified the faithfulness and righteousness of God, quotes from a familiar psalm of David, Psalm fifty-one, verse four.
The Old Testament passage reads, “Against Thee, Thee only, I have sinned, and done what is evil in Thy sight, so that Thou art justified when Thou dost speak, and blameless when Thou dost judge.”
Most believe David was moved to utter and record these words following His calamitous choices in committing adultery with Bathsheba, setting her husband Uriah up to be killed in battle, thereby costing the life of the innocent child conceived in sin, as foretold by the prophet of God, Nathan.
David’s heart was rent not only with grief but enormous guilt in his recognition that he had sinned against the righteous Author of the Law, that which “is holy, and righteous and good” (Rom. 7:12b). He knew it was fruitless to attempt to conceal his sins from before the one true and eternally righteous God. The right thing to do, and David knew it, was to acknowledge his sin. No seeking to explain it away to justify himself before the Almighty or lie his way out of it, as would be the manner of men. David knew the LORD had him “dead to rights” and he deserved whatever punishment God was to mete out. That’s why when confronted by Nathan with his sins David responded, “I have sinned against the LORD!” (2 Sam. 12:13) David sought to save the child’s life by fasting and pleading with God for seven days. It was to no avail. When the child died, David arose, “washed, anointed himself , and changed his clothes; and he came into the house of the LORD and worshiped.”(2 Sam. 12:20) David had the right attitude when called to account for his sins. He knew the LORD could have easily cut him out of His eternal plans because of his sins. Instead he was extended mercy and the opportunity to repent, to continue as an instrument in the plan of God.
Now let’s consider the context surrounding the verse cited above. The Jews believed that since they were able to trace their lineage to Abraham, they were entitled to salvation. A reading of the gospels will make this evident, in particular John chapters 8-10. Paul had just made it clear, circumcision in the flesh meant nothing to God, it was the circumcision of the heart by the Spirit. A Jew would seem confused, understanding the physical circumcision to be the sign of the covenant God had made with Abraham concerning setting apart His people. If it wasn’t the case, “then what advantage has the Jew?” (Rom. 3:1) They forgot the conditions attached of obedience (Gen. 18:19) and the LORD’s design from early on of what He desired was a circumcised heart. (C. f. Deut.10:16, 30:6) That is why in chapter two Paul charged the Jew just as guilty as the Gentile. They still had a bad heart condition-it was far from Him. Paul, through the Spirit makes it clear it was the oracles of God, His direct revelation, that gave them their distinct advantage. What someone is given, does not however, guarantee a given result, the record of mankind demonstrating this. Paul notes in Romans 3:3 that some Jews did not believe. If the people aren’t faithful even though given these great gifts of God’s written promises, blessings and the prophecies of the coming Messiah, does that make God unfaithful? To this objection, Paul then makes his divine rebuttal and cites Psalm 51:4. God’s record stands as an example of His truthfulness and His faithfulness. He brought about exactly what He foretold in the Old Testament in spite of unbelieving people. He has been deemed to be true and it is impossible for Him to lie. (John 10:35) Even if His people are unfaithful, He remains faithful. (2 Tim. 2:13) The issue becomes whether one chooses to be a part of His plan. The believing Jews, like David, recognized they’d sinned against God. They repented, were washed (immersed to wash away their sins), anointed and entered into the spiritual house of the LORD, the church, which by the way, now includes believing Gentiles who’ve done the same. All who understand God’s plan of developing faith through the gospel of Jesus Christ for those who would believe, acknowledge the wisdom of God’s plan and His righteousness. Because He prevailed in faithfully executing His plan through Christ, the honest soul must declare God as being found true. As a result, we in Christ are saved, justified, and are not judged! Praise God, amen?