2 Samuel 22 & Galatians 2

2 Samuel 22

    And David spoke to the LORD the words of this song on the day when the LORD delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul. He said,

    “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
        my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
    my shield, and the horn of my salvation,
        my stronghold and my refuge,
        my savior; you save me from violence.
    I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised,
        and I am saved from my enemies.
    “For the waves of death encompassed me,
        the torrents of destruction assailed me;
    the cords of Sheol entangled me;
        the snares of death confronted me.
    “In my distress I called upon the LORD;
        to my God I called.
    From his temple he heard my voice,
        and my cry came to his ears.
    “Then the earth reeled and rocked;
        the foundations of the heavens trembled
        and quaked, because he was angry.
    Smoke went up from his nostrils,
        and devouring fire from his mouth;
        glowing coals flamed forth from him.
    He bowed the heavens and came down;
        thick darkness was under his feet.
    He rode on a cherub and flew;
        he was seen on the wings of the wind.
    He made darkness around him his canopy,
        thick clouds, a gathering of water.
    Out of the brightness before him
        coals of fire flamed forth.
    The LORD thundered from heaven,
        and the Most High uttered his voice.
    And he sent out arrows and scattered them;
        lightning, and routed them.
    Then the channels of the sea were seen;
        the foundations of the world were laid bare,
    at the rebuke of the LORD,
        at the blast of the breath of his nostrils.
    “He sent from on high, he took me;
        he drew me out of many waters.
    He rescued me from my strong enemy,
        from those who hated me,
        for they were too mighty for me.
    They confronted me in the day of my calamity,
        but the LORD was my support.
    He brought me out into a broad place;
        he rescued me, because he delighted in me.
    “The LORD dealt with me according to my righteousness;
        according to the cleanness of my hands he rewarded me.
    For I have kept the ways of the LORD
        and have not wickedly departed from my God.
    For all his rules were before me,
        and from his statutes I did not turn aside.
    I was blameless before him,
        and I kept myself from guilt.
    And the LORD has rewarded me according to my righteousness,
        according to my cleanness in his sight.
    “With the merciful you show yourself merciful;
        with the blameless man you show yourself blameless;
    with the purified you deal purely,
        and with the crooked you make yourself seem tortuous.
    You save a humble people,
        but your eyes are on the haughty to bring them down.
    For you are my lamp, O LORD,
        and my God lightens my darkness.
    For by you I can run against a troop,
        and by my God I can leap over a wall.
    This God—his way is perfect;
        the word of the LORD proves true;
        he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.
    “For who is God, but the LORD?
        And who is a rock, except our God?
    This God is my strong refuge
        and has made my way blameless.
    He made my feet like the feet of a deer
        and set me secure on the heights.
    He trains my hands for war,
        so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
    You have given me the shield of your salvation,
        and your gentleness made me great.
    You gave a wide place for my steps under me,
        and my feet did not slip;
    I pursued my enemies and destroyed them,
        and did not turn back until they were consumed.
    I consumed them; I thrust them through, so that they did not rise;
        they fell under my feet.
    For you equipped me with strength for the battle;
        you made those who rise against me sink under me.
    You made my enemies turn their backs to me,
        those who hated me, and I destroyed them.
    They looked, but there was none to save;
        they cried to the LORD, but he did not answer them.
    I beat them fine as the dust of the earth;
        I crushed them and stamped them down like the mire of the streets.
    “You delivered me from strife with my people;
        you kept me as the head of the nations;
        people whom I had not known served me.
    Foreigners came cringing to me;
        as soon as they heard of me, they obeyed me.
    Foreigners lost heart
        and came trembling out of their fortresses.
    “The LORD lives, and blessed be my rock,
        and exalted be my God, the rock of my salvation,
    the God who gave me vengeance
        and brought down peoples under me,
    who brought me out from my enemies;
        you exalted me above those who rose against me;
        you delivered me from men of violence.
    “For this I will praise you, O LORD, among the nations,
        and sing praises to your name.
    Great salvation he brings to his king,
        and shows steadfast love to his anointed,
        to David and his offspring forever.”

(2 Samuel 22 ESV)

Galatians 2

    Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. I went up because of a revelation and set before them (though privately before those who seemed influential) the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure I was not running or had not run in vain. But even Titus, who was with me, was not forced to be circumcised, though he was a Greek. Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery—to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you. And from those who seemed to be influential (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those, I say, who seemed influential added nothing to me. On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised (for he who worked through Peter for his apostolic ministry to the circumcised worked also through me for mine to the Gentiles), and when James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.

    But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”

    We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.

    But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.

(Galatians 2 ESV)

Something to Consider

Galatians 2: Justification is the essence of the gospel and some have labeled it as the Atlas that holds Christianity on it’s shoulders. Justification is not some fancy doctrinal term or theological language made for seminary students. We see it throughout Paul's letters. The word is found and discussed in Romans 3, Romans 4, Romans 5 and even three times in this one sentence here in Galatians. If we're going to understand anything Paul says in the rest of this letter, we have to first understand what he means by being "justified by faith in Christ".

What does it mean to be “justified by faith in Christ”?   

‘Justification’ is a legal term. It is a judicial term that is used in a court of law. It is the exact opposite of the word ‘condemnation’. According to Scripture, if you stand condemned then you are declared guilty by our Lord who does in fact preside as the ultimate Judge over all His creation. However, if you stand 'justified' then you are declared 'not guilty' by our Lord as the Judge..

Man’s dilemma is actually fairly plain and obvious. God is righteous. We are not. So instead of harmony in our relationship with God, the relationship has been broken because of our unrighteousness. Paul tells us elsewhere that none of us are righteous, none of us truly seek God and none of us are born truly living for God. So is there any more important question in life than “How can we be made righteous before God?” or to put it another way, “How can we who stand condemned already (guilty before God) be justified by God (declared not guilty by God)?" 

This is our great dilemma. This is man’s greatest problem: How could a just God who exercises perfect justice justify guilty sinners and still remain a perfectly just God who exercises perfect justice?

And therein lies the beauty and perfect wisdom behind the truth of the gospel. God’s righteousness is apart of who He is, and He cannot compromise His character in order to save us. The moment God ceases to exercise perfect justice is the moment God would cease to be just and is the moment God would cease to be God. The righteousness of God requires perfect justice to be served and therefore sin to be punished.

However, the good news of true Christianity is that we can be declared 'not guilty' by the graciousness of God who offers us this pronouncement as a free gift and not based on anything we’re able to do. 

How does He do that?

He does this because Jesus Christ took on the punishment that we deserve so that perfect justice would be carried out, sin would be punished, and God’s wrath toward our sin would be satisfied. Our criminal record is accredited to Christ who pays the penalty that it demands, and the spotless record of Christ is then accredited to us who receive it through faith. 

Therefore, the only way we can be justified by God is through faith (complete trust) in what Christ has done for us through His perfect life, His sacrificial death and His powerful resurrection into ultimate authority over the entire universe as Lord.

We are not called to simply change our behavior; we are called to truly believe that this incredible truth of what God has done for us through Christ is in fact true.