20.  The LORD rewarded me according to my righteousness;

Ultimately David was not sinless, for Romans 3:23 applies to him as well, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  Yet David had Christ’s righteousness graciously imputed to him just as we do, and so he could rightfully make this claim to be righteous.  Yet also we realize that David was blameless regarding revolt against his master Saul, as we know from reading the book of Samuel.  David never was guilty of plotting revolt against his master as Saul claimed he was, and even upon Saul’s death David mourned for him and slew the one who claimed to have killed him.  Thus David was indeed innocent of the charge made against him by Saul, and so he could make the claim given here on those grounds as well.

According to the cleanness of my hands He has recompensed me.

This was an appropriate thing for the LORD to do in that day, when His dealings with Israel were all blessing based on obedience and curses based on disobedience and revolt.  Yet we know that this is a dispensational statement, for it does not at all apply to us today.  In the dispensation of grace, God deals with people by giving them the free gifts of His grace, and never by rewarding their behavior.  Yet this was the way God was acting at that time, and so this was an appropriate claim that David made.  Moreover, this will be the way God is acting in the future time when He delivers Israel from the ten nations who are their enemies and from the anti-Christ.

21.  For I have kept the ways of the LORD,

This is both David’s and the Holy Spirit’s approval of David’s actions before the LORD.  Remember that this is before the great sinful act that David did later in life in the matter of Uriah and Bathsheba.

And have not wickedly departed from my God.

David had never departed from his God, nor did he ever do so all his life, as we know.  Yet Saul already had departed from God several times, and would do so again at the time of his death, as we also know from Scripture.

22.  For all His judgments were before me,

David not only had the Scriptures to tell him God’s judgments, but also he had the Holy Spirit inspiring his actions and giving him knowledge of the ways of the LORD.

And I did not put away His statutes from me.

David maintains his innocence and faithful adherence to the ways of the LORD.

23.  I was also blameless before Him,

“Before” might be better translated “with.”  It was with the imputed righteousness that God gives that David could truly claim to be blameless.

And I kept myself from my iniquity.

David did not act in a wicked way in revolting against his master Saul.  Thus he kept from iniquity even as he claims here, though Saul refused to believe it.

24.  Therefore the LORD has recompensed me according to my righteousness,

Again the sentiments of verse 20 are repeated.  David’s deliverance from his enemies was because the LORD viewed him as righteous and undeserving of the penalty of death they hoped to bring against him.  How much more true will this be in the future kingdom of God, when David as God’s great Prince will indeed be righteous, and all the claims of the enemy against him false.  This psalm also must have in mind that future time.

According to the cleanness of my hands in His sight.

The LORD knew that David had not acted wickedly.  There was no revolt in his hands.  Thus the LORD delivered him.

25.  With the merciful You will show Yourself merciful;

This reminds us of the statement of Christ in the book of Matthew, chapter 6 verses 14-15, where He says, “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”  This was an appropriate statement in the past, as it will be in the future kingdom.  However, to make such a statement in our day would be totally incorrect.  This is another thing that has changed in the current dispensation of grace, for we know that now the statement of Ephesians 4:32 is true, which states, “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you.”  We do not receive mercy because we are merciful.  Rather we show mercy because we have already received it.  This is the attitude of mature children, and is the attitude God desires of us in this dispensation.

With a blameless man You will show Yourself blameless;

A blameless man will find nothing to blame God for in his life.

26.  With the pure You will show Yourself pure;

One who is pure can easily see the purity of God.  The impure, however, can never seem to see anything but impurity.  Thus they imagine that they see all sorts of impure things in the Scriptures.  They suppose that David and Jonathan had a homosexual relationship.  They assume Christ had an affair with Mary Magdalene, even going so far as to call her the “Black Madonna” because she supposedly had a child with Him!  They think that Paul was a frustrated homosexual when he wrote the book of Romans.  Such people know nothing of purity, and so they see nothing but impurity even in the actions of God and His closest servants.  Yet to the pure God will reveal His true purity.

And with the devious You will show Yourself shrewd.

This might better be translated “with the perverse You will show Yourself a contender.”  In David’s day God contended with the perverse because of their wickedness.  Yet we see that this is another dispensational statement, for in our day God contends with no one, but instead showers the free gifts of His grace upon all.  Yet even the wicked of our day God will contend with when they face Him resurrected in the Day of Judgment.

27.  For You will save the humble people,

Pride is ever a detestable thing with God, yet David knows that the humble will receive the LORD’s salvation, even as he has received salvation from his enemies.

But will bring down haughty looks.

How small and pathetic we are, and yet how prone to pride!  But God will bring down the proud.

28.  For You will light my lamp;

The lamp symbolizes one’s comfort and hope.  David knows that his lamp, all his hope for the future and all his future comfort, is truly lit only by the LORD.

The LORD my God will enlighten my darkness.

How dark all our lives were in sin before God shined His light in our hearts!  David knows that the LORD his God will someday take away the darkness of sin from his life, making him at last what God wishes him to be.  And the same is true of us as well.  How we long for that day!

29.  For by You I can run against a troop,

This speaks of breaking through a troop, not merely running against them.  This reminds us of Samson and his amazing stand alone against the army of the Philistines.  David knew that the LORD could give him the strength to win in battle no matter what the odds!

And by my God I can leap over a wall.

This is probably not talking about a low wall like a fence, but instead the high walls of a fortified city.  Such a leap would be impossible for a man, but David knows that God can enable him to do even this.  “Able to leap tall buildings at a single bound…”  No imaginary scientific marvel or planet Krypton here.  God can give David the power to behave like a Superman!

30.  As for God, His way is perfect;

The word for God here is again the singular El.  This probably refers to Christ.  His way indeed is perfect in a way David’s could never have matched.

The word of the LORD is proven;

This speaks of the sayings of the LORD being refined.  This is similar to the concept we saw in Psalm 12:6, where we learned of God’s Word being purified seven times.  The word of the LORD is indeed a pure thing, refined by the Holy Spirit so that it is perfect in His sight.

He is a shield to all who trust in Him.

After the miraculous deliverance he had received, David certainly knew what he was talking about when he made this statement!

31.  For who is God, except the LORD?

Of course the answer is: “No one!”  The word for “God” here is Eloah, and indicates the God Who should be worshipped, and the living God as opposed to idols.

And who is a rock, except our God?

Again, the answer is: “No one!”  This is the second great statement of God as Rock in this psalm.  David knows that none but God is the true foundation upon which he can depend in time of trouble.

32.  It is God Who arms me with strength,

This is the singular word for God, El, and a name associated with God’s almighty power.   It is the Almighty Who gives David his strength, even strength to perform amazing feats such as he listed in verse 29.

And makes my way perfect.

Not only David’s way in his dealings with King Saul in the past, but also his ways in the future when he rules as Israel’s perfect Prince.

33.  He makes my feet like the feet of deer,

David compares his ability to escape from his enemies to the nimbleness of a female deer.

And sets me on my high places.

Perhaps the deer David had in mind was some sort of mountain antelope.  High places would indeed be a great protection, for not only would it be difficult for enemies to get up to you, but also you could see them coming.  David is using this figure of a deer in the mountains to describe God’s protection of him in all his flights from Saul.

34.  He teaches my hands to make war,

David was a great warrior, as we know from reading the book of Samuel, but he claims no glory for himself in this, claiming that it was God Who taught him how to make war.  Indeed, one could have no better strategic advisor than God Himself!

So that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.

David credits God not only with his skill to make war but also with his strength.  Remember that David had the Holy Spirit giving him power in a way that He never does today.

35.  You have also given me the shield of Your salvation;

God’s salvation is indeed a shield, protecting us from the attacks of the enemy.  In Ephesians 6, salvation is described as a helmet, likewise protecting the wearer.

Your right hand has held me up,

The right hand is the hand of blessing.  David credits God’s right hand with supporting him in all his troubles.

Your gentleness has made me great.

David, in spite of his skill as a warrior, was not a violent and bloody man like his enemy Saul.  He had God’s gentleness, and that gentleness had made him great.  How much more true will this be of David in his future reign!  And perhaps we see here an echo of David’s Son and Lord, Who is indeed a gentle Savior.