“The cleanness of my hands”
Psalm 18 is a major psalm of David, we meditate on his words in surveying all the ways in which the Lord had been overseeing his life. God is his rock, his place of refuge (verse 2). He writes that the Lord has dealt with him according to his righteousness, stating, “according to the cleanness of my hands he rewarded me” (verse 20).
This causes us to meditate upon what we might call, the cause and effect principle in our relationship with God. We have observed more than once that difficulties can enter a person’s life, although he or she does not, in effect, deserved it. Job’s life is a classic case, but there are many other examples. David himself experienced this after he had slain Goliath and was exalted in the sight of the nation – but then suffered much trouble because of the jealousy of Saul.
So what did David mean when he wrote that the Lord rewarded me because of “the cleanness of my hands”? This perception of David is so significant that he repeats it, and notice the context, “I was blameless before him and I kept myself from my guilt. So the LORD has rewarded me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight” (verses 23,24).
There is a present tense here, the reward has been received. We tend to look to the future as the time of reward, as we read last week in Revelation 22:12 about how Jesus, at his return, will reward [repay] everyone for what they have done.
So David, despite all the troubles Saul created for him, as the introduction to this Psalm comments, is extremely conscious of the present reward of God’s guiding care. “With the merciful you show yourself merciful … but the haughty eyes you bring down” (verses 25,27). “The word of the LORD proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him” (verse 30).
When he says of God “you equipped me with strength for the battle” (verse 39); true followers of Christ can see this as meaning a different kind of battle. The Apostle Paul says “we are not waging war according to the flesh … We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God and take every [human] thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:3,5). There are many “lofty opinions” in circulation today.
Our regular meditative reading of the Bible is an essential ingredient in each of our lives to enable God and Christ to work in us to achieve this present reward – we start by taking “every thought captive to obey Christ”.