Pulpit Commentary Verse 20. – The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness. David has spoken of his “righteousness” already in Psalm 7:8. We must not suppose him to mean absolute blamelessness, any more than Job means such blamelessness by his “integrity” (Job 27:5; Job 31:6).
He means honesty of purpose, the sincere endeavour to do right, such conduct as brings about “the answer of a good conscience before God” (1 Peter 3:21). According to the cleanness of my hands hath he recompensed me (comp. Job 27:9; Psalm 24:4). “Clean hands” are hands unstained by any wicked action.
Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible
For I have kept the ways of the Lord,…. Not those which the Lord Himself walks in, His ways of providence, or of grace; though these are and should be taken notice of and observed by good men, as the word (y) used will bear to be rendered; but the ways which He has prescribed and directed men to walk in, the ways of his commandments, in which they should go; these were, in some measure, kept by David, who often, in the hundred nineteenth psalm speaks of his keeping the testimonies and statutes, and commandments of the Lord; as they are by good men, with some degree of pleasure, they take delight to walk in them; and with some degree of constancy, they keep walking in them, without turning to the right hand or the left, though solicited to it; but yet not perfectly, for they have many a slip and fall in them; wherefore this cannot be a reason of their being rewarded according to their righteousness: in strict justice, the words better agree with Christ, who kept the law of God perfectly, did his will completely; he came from heaven to do it; it was his meat and drink to accomplish it; and he always did the things which pleased his father, wherefore He rewarded him;
and have not wickedly departed from my God; which was, in some sense, true of David; not as by disbelieving the power and providence, the promises, truth, and faithfulness of God, and His covenant interest in Him; which to do would have been a wicked departure from God; see Hebrews 3:12; nor by forsaking the house and worship of God; though he was driven from thence by wicked men, yet sore against His will, and which during his exile he frequently laments and complains of; nor by sinning wilfully and presumptuously, only through error, inadvertency, infirmity, and temptation: but when it is observed, how much unbelief, which is a partial departing from the living God, and how many there are that neglect private and public worship, and what a proneness there is to sin and wickedness, and how much there is of the will in sinful actions, in the best of men;
it is right and best to understand this of Christ, who never was guilty of sin, nor committed any wickedness in departing from God in the least: as man, God was His God, and He always believed His interest in Him, and claimed it even when He forsook Him on the cross; nor did He quit His service, desert His cause, nor depart from the work and business He enjoined Him, till it was finished.
Pulpit Commentary Verse 22. – For all his judgments were before me; i.e. “all his commandments” (compare the use of the same word (מִשׁפַט throughout the hundred and nineteenth psalm). And I did not put away his statutes from me. The wicked are said to “cast God’s commandments behind their back” (1 Kings 14:9; Nehemiah 9:26; Psalm 50:17; Ezekiel 23:35). David declares that he had never so acted; he had kept God’s statutes always well before him, had borne them in mind, and given heed to them. Psalm 18:22
God, in His omniscience and core characteristic of love, deals with us from a position of both grace and justice. He greatly rewarded and both punished David. He said of David that he was a man after His own heart. What a great testimony and example.
Here we also see God doesn’t force us to stay with Him, that’s our choice, our free will which He has sovereignly bestowed upon us. If we bail, what a wicked decision that is.
David implores that he was intentional in keeping God’s rules and statutes before him. His great success was no accident or mere luck for his God was with and for him.
David’s statements aren’t 100% true in a technical sense as he was a mortal man prone to sin as of course we are as well. I believe he often speaks as his intention and desire are. He speaks as to where is supposes, where he desires, where he is driven, where he is headed. He ambition is noble.
God’s standard is perfection. We all fall short of His mark. That’s why Christ pure sacrifice is so wonderful. Jesus’s imputation of righteousness makes us positionally pure and perfect. Yet, as Paul reminded us that is no license to sin. On the contrary, we are strive as David did. God does indeed reward us for our diligence, with His full understanding of our inherent fallacies. I suppose it could be said He grades us on a curve.
So its a separate duality not to get confused. Faith in Christ is what it takes for salvation – nothing to do with works. Yet, God most certainly expects us to work for His cause. He expects a return and utilization of the time, talent and treasure from the resources He makes available (as clearly taught by Jesus in many parables including that of the Talents).
Faith without works is dead. And works without faith is futile as James so clearly stipulated. God is a rewarder of those who seek Him. The same God gives and God takes away. Blessed be the name of the LORD!
Help me to radiant confidence, obedience and boldness as David exhibited for you to rewarded him and called him, ‘a man after My heart’.