Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous. (Psalms 69:28)
In last week’s article, we noted that Psalm 69 describes the agony of the suffering of Christ related to the events of the cross. This psalm shows the humiliation of Christ and the utter rejection of those who were His kindred in Israel. Of all the people who were complicit in His death, none was as sinister as Caiaphas, the high priest. Caiaphas was a Roman appointee as were all in the succession of high priests since Rome conquered Israel. Though he was not necessarily a full-fledged supporter of Rome, he was cooperative which helped him hold on to his position longer than any of his predecessors.
Despite the need to help sustain the Pax Romana (Roman peace), he still represented the sacred institution of the priesthood. As the highest religious authority, he had the responsibility of upholding God’s commandments. However, like the rest of the priesthood, scribes, and elders of Israel, he helped distort the Law so that it was an overwhelming burden that no one could bear. Jesus described this group of corrupt teachers as being willing to heap burdens on others, but unwilling to help lift the burdens. They broke their own laws with clever manipulation and in the process declared themselves righteous.
Practically to a man, all of these leaders were self-righteous hypocrites, and yet all of them believed they were as right for heaven as humanly possible. In their eyes, they were good enough and heaven should clap to hail their arrival. Psalm 69:28 is Christ’s strongest indictment against them.
This verse gives many a great deal of trouble. What is meant by the book of the living, and what do we make of blotting names out of it? First let me say the scriptures are clear that God has a book containing the names of all those who were predestined to eternal life. Their names were written in the book of life before the foundation of the world. Since God is omniscient, this is no trouble for Him. To think God would not have this information and plan for the salvation of the elect is to bring Him down to the level of man’s ignorance.
The second observation is that God is immutable. He does not write names and subsequently erase them. His omniscience supports His immutability as all God’s attributes work seamlessly together. How then can names be blotted out of God’s book? The key to the answer is found in Luke 8:18: “Take heed therefore how ye hear: for whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have.” Caiaphas and the other leaders believed they possessed everything necessary to eternal life. As far as they were concerned, their names were recorded and I am sure many others thought so as well. When Christ said, “Blot out their names,” He means the same as He said in Luke. What they seem to have will be taken away and the truth will be made known that their names were never there.
Many professed believers suffer under the same delusion. Their hope is their trip down the aisle of a church, and/or a prayer they prayed in which they made their “decision.” Because of this, they believe they are safe and secure. Sadly, their activities of life and the absence of Christian graces belie their confession. At the judgment, what they seem to have will be taken away. The books will be opened and their names will not be found—their names were never written.
These matters are too high for us as this verse is a conversation between the Father and the Son. We cannot pretend to resolve the paradoxes because we are too feeble to understand the wisdom of God. There is only one way we can be sure Psalm 69:28 is not about us. We must repent of all our sins, trust Christ with all our heart, and surrender to Him as Lord. This is the definition of saving faith. Saving faith is also living faith that reproduces the life of Christ in us. If this is what you have, your name is there. Praise God Psalm 69:28 will never be said about you.
Pastor V. Mark Smith