Word Study ‘Righteous’ – Part 04 – Kingdom of God

In this post we look at the how righteousness language is applied to the kingdom of God. Today’s post especially applies to God himself. He is the righteous king over all creation.

This is the fourth of a series of posts on the concept of righteousness and justification in the scriptures. I’ve listed most (if not all) references to right, righteous, righteousness and just, justified and justification in the scriptures to do my own study on what the scriptures say about the concept.

Click on this link to go to the first post which has a summary and links to all.

The Kingdom of God

Throughout the scriptures God is regarded as the sovereign LORD of all. With respect to ‘righteousness’ the association with God’s righteousness and the concept of ‘kingdom’ comes to the fore because of the connection with words like ‘throne’, ‘rule’, ‘ruler’, ‘reign’, ‘domain’ and ‘dominion’.

Like all kingdoms of this time it is understood in terms of the king, his land and his people.

God is the righteous King (Ps 22.28-31; 45.6-7; 145.1,7,12-13,17; Isa 5.16; 9.6-7; 45.21-25; Rev 15.3-4)

All creation, the heavens and the earth are his land. The elect, those he has entered into covenant with are his people. Unlike kings we may imagine He doesn’t have a castle. Instead he has a Temple. His servants are called a ‘royal priesthood’ connecting themes of kingship and religion. He sits on his throne and rules over his kingdom. The extent of his kingdom is known as his reign and dominion.

28 For kingship belongs to the LORD, and he rules over the nations.

29 All the prosperous of the earth eat and worship; before him shall bow all who go down to the dust, even the one who could not keep himself alive.

30 Posterity shall serve him; it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation;

31 they shall come and proclaim his RIGHTEOUSNESS to a people yet unborn, that he has done it. (Ps 22.28-31)

God raises up kings (1 Ki 10.9; Ps 45.1-4; 72.1-3; Isa 9.6-7; 11.1-5; Jer 23.5-6; 33.14-18; Zec 9.9)

6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

7 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. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this. (Is 9:6–7)

Jesus is the righteous King (Acts 10.42; 17.31; Rev 19.11; cf. Heb 7.2)

11 Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in RIGHTEOUSNESS he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. 13 He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. 14 And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. 15 From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords. (Rev 19.11-16)

Functions of a King

In the Old Testament, all these functions are not appointed to happen in some final assize. Rather they are perceived to happen all the time.

Foundation of the throne (Ps 97.1-2; 89.14-18; 97.1-2; Prov 25.4-6)

97 The LORD reigns, let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad!

2 Clouds and thick darkness are all around him; RIGHTEOUSNESS and justice are the foundation of his throne. (Ps 97.1-2)

As he rules over his kingdom he executes justice and RIGHTEOUSNESS. This generally happens in a few different ways.

God as King has works and deeds (Ps 9.1,7; 22.28-31; 145.4-7)

27 All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you.

28 For kingship belongs to the LORD, and he rules over the nations.

29 All the prosperous of the earth eat and worship; before him shall bow all who go down to the dust, even the one who could not keep himself alive.

30 Posterity shall serve him; it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation;

31 they shall come and proclaim his RIGHTEOUSNESS to a people yet unborn, that he has done it. (Ps 22.27-31)

God as King executes justice and righteousness (1 Ki 10.9; Ps 89.14-16; 99.1-4; Isa 16.5; 32.1; Eze 45.9)

99 The Lord reigns; let the peoples tremble! He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake!
2 The Lord is great in Zion; he is exalted over all the peoples.
3 Let them praise your great and awesome name! Holy is he!
4 The King in his might loves justice. You have established equity; you have executed justice and RIGHTEOUSNESS in Jacob. (Ps 99.1-4)

God as King Judges the world (Ps 7.8-11,17; 9.4-8; 96.10,13; 98.6-9; Acts 10.42; 17.31; Rom 2.5; 2 Thes 1.5; 2 Pet 2.4-9)

There is significant overlap with the law court theme with God’s kingly justice. I will consider the law court theme in a later post. With respect to God, his judgment come under his role as king.

4 For you have maintained my just cause; you have sat on the throne, giving the RIGHTEOUS judgment.

5 You have rebuked the nations; you have made the wicked perish; you have blotted out their name forever and ever.

6 The enemy came to an end in everlasting ruins; their cities you rooted out; the very memory of them has perished.

7 But the LORD sits enthroned forever; he has established his throne for justice,

8 and he judges the world with RIGHTEOUSNESS; he judges the peoples with uprightness. (Ps 9.4-8)

God as King helps the poor and needy (Ps 9.7-9; 14.1-7; 72.1-4,12-14; 103.1-19; 146.7-10; Prov 29.14)

God as king looks after the poor and needy. Note the relationship below between the LORD as king and his ‘royal son’. The earthly king he has established.

1 Give the king your justice, O God, and your RIGHTEOUSNESS to the royal son!

2 May he judge your people with RIGHTEOUSNESS, and your poor with justice!

3 Let the mountains bear prosperity for the people, and the hills, in RIGHTEOUSNESS!

4 May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the children of the needy, and crush the oppressor!

5 May they fear you while the sun endures, and as long as the moon, throughout all generations!

6 May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass, like showers that water the earth!

7 In his days may the RIGHTEOUS flourish, and peace abound, till the moon be no more!

8 May he have dominion from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth!

9 May desert tribes bow down before him, and his enemies lick the dust!

10 May the kings of Tarshish and of the coastlands render him tribute; may the kings of Sheba and Seba bring gifts!

11 May all kings fall down before him, all nations serve him!

12 For he delivers the needy when he calls, the poor and him who has no helper.

13 He has pity on the weak and the needy, and saves the lives of the needy. (Ps 72.1-13)

God as King vindicates the righteous (Ps 35.24,27-28; 2 Tim 4.8)

22 You have seen, O LORD; be not silent! O Lord, be not far from me!

23 Awake and rouse yourself for my vindication, for my cause, my God and my Lord!

24 Vindicate me, O LORD, my God, according to your RIGHTEOUSNESS, and let them not rejoice over me!

25 Let them not say in their hearts, “Aha, our heart’s desire!” Let them not say, “We have swallowed him up.”

26 Let them be put to shame and disappointed altogether who rejoice at my calamity! Let them be clothed with shame and dishonor who magnify themselves against me!

27 Let those who delight in my RIGHTEOUSNESS shout for joy and be glad and say evermore, “Great is the LORD, who delights in the welfare of his servant!”

28 Then my tongue shall tell of your RIGHTEOUSNESS and of your praise all the day long. (Ps 35.22-28)

Kings make covenants (Ps 89.14,24-29,34; 2 Sam 7.16)

In the Old Testament God as King rescued and delivered Israel from slavery and then made a covenant with them. In doing this he formed a bond of kinship (Father-Son) so they could be his people. Kings make covenants with the people they rule over.

We see the covenantal themes with the words ‘covenant’, ‘steadfast love’ and ‘faithfulness’.

Connections between kingdom and covenant (Ps 89.8,14-16,20-21,24-37; 98.1-3,9; 145.7-8)

8 O LORD God of hosts, who is mighty as you are, O LORD, with your FAITHFULNESS all around you? …

14 RIGHTEOUSNESS and justice are the foundation of your throne; STEADFAST LOVE and FAITHFULNESS go before you.

15 Blessed are the people who know the festal shout, who walk, O LORD, in the light of your face,

16 who exult in your name all the day and in your RIGHTEOUSNESS are exalted. …

20 I have found David, my servant; with my holy oil I have anointed him,

21 so that my hand shall be established with him; my arm also shall strengthen him. …

24 My FAITHFULNESS and my STEADFAST LOVE shall be with him, and in my name shall his horn be exalted.

25 I will set his hand on the sea and his right hand on the rivers.

26 He shall cry to me, ‘You are my Father, my God, and the Rock of my salvation.’

27 And I will make him the firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth.

28 My STEADFAST LOVE I will keep for him forever, and my covenant will stand firm for him.

29 I will establish his offspring forever and his throne as the days of the heavens.

30 If his children forsake my law and do not walk according to my rules,

31 if they violate my statutes and do not keep my commandments,

32 then I will punish their transgression with the rod and their iniquity with stripes,

33 but I will not remove from him my STEADFAST LOVE or be false to my FAITHFULNESS.

34 I will not violate my COVENANT or alter the word that went forth from my lips.

35 Once for all I have sworn by my holiness; I will not lie to David.

36 His offspring shall endure forever, his throne as long as the sun before me.

37 Like the moon it shall be established forever, a faithful witness in the skies.” Selah  (Ps 89:8–37)

Saves the righteous (Job 27.1-8,13-17; Ps 7.8-9; 14.1-7; 17.1-15; 34.11-22; 36.5-12; 37.3-40; 51.1-19; 71.1-24; 97.1-12)

The motif of God as the righteous King overlaps with Him as a covenant member and covenant ethics above (Ps 89.8-37; 94.12-23; 103.1-19; 143.1-12; 145.1-21). That is, God acting as King and being faithful to his covenant saves the righteous.

God saves the righteous for two reasons;

  1. because he is obligated to under the covenant, and
  2. because he is the sovereign LORD who establishes justice over his kingdom.

Where salvation is concerned, the two can’t be separated. When God saves he is described as acting in righteousness.

1 Oh sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things! His right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him.

2 The Lord has made known his salvation; he has revealed his RIGHTEOUSNESS in the sight of the nations.

3 He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness to the house of Israel. All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.

4 Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises!

5 Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre, with the lyre and the sound of melody!

6 With trumpets and the sound of the horn make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord!

7 Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; the world and those who dwell in it!

8 Let the rivers clap their hands; let the hills sing for joy together

9 before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world with RIGHTEOUSNESS, and the peoples with equity. (Ps 98.1-9)

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