3 For what if some did not believe? Will their unbelief make the faithfulness of God without effect? 4 Certainly not! Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar. As it is written: “That You may be justified in Your words, And may overcome when You are judged.”
For what if [Greek—and it is true] some did not believe?
In light of the fact that God entrusted the Jews with the Bible, did some of them “not believe?” God entrusted them with the Bible but some were unfaithful to that trust.
Will their unbelief [unfaithfulness] make the faithfulness of God without effect [nullify, render inoperative]?
The question is whether their unfaithfulness to the trust of receiving God’s Word would render inoperative God’s faithfulness. Paul answered that question in the next phrase. God will never break faith with His people.
God’s faithfulness is not affected by the Jews’ unfaithfulness. This is emphatic repudiation of the idea that God is unfaithful to His promises. We can count on God to be thoroughly reliable no matter the consequence. God does not determine His faithfulness by the Jews’ unfaithfulness. God is always true to His Word and promises.
Indeed, let God be [become] true [complete reliability] but every man a liar.
God will persist in His faithfulness although every man may be a liar. God is true because He is faithful to Himself. He will be true to His promises to save Israel. He is true to His covenants, but individual Jews are not true to the covenants or promises of God. God’s character remains consistent no matter what man does. God made a promise and He will stick to it.
Ps 116: 11 I said in my haste, “All men are liars.”
As it is written:
The following is a quotation of Psalm 51:4. David was unfaithful to God by his adultery with Bathsheba. Psalm 51 is David’s reflection on that sin after he repented of that sin. His sin was against God personally—“against you only have I sinned.”
“That [in order that] You may be justified in Your words, And may overcome [be victorious] when You are judged.”
God is justified in His words of judgment because He is a covenant-keeping God. That is why all His judgments are justified. There is nothing disloyal about God’s faithfulness to Israel. God will be victorious over any objections about His loyalty.
David said in Psalm 51 that God will be proved to be right and justified in everything. People will view Him as right in His actions. When we put God to the test, we must vindicate Him and His actions. God is consistent in His character. He always remains true to Himself.
There is an analogy between David and the nation Israel. The quotation of God’s dealing with David in Psalm 51 is not to establish God’s truth but that God will be seen to be justified in what He does. David judged himself to make God’s judgment manifest. David’s sin showed how God is justified in his dealings with him.
God’s making good on His promises to Israel shows the unbeliever as a liar. This justifies God in His dealings with Israel. He will be true to Himself although His people are totally unworthy. God’s discipline does not mean the abrogation of His promises. Israel sinned against clear light of revelation in this passage, but that does not mean He will give up on Israel.
God’s faithfulness to us does not rest on whether we are faithful to Him.
God’s actions are not contingent on something outside Himself. He is always true to His character. We cannot abrogate God’s faithfulness by our sin. He will always be faithful to His truth and promises to us. We can stake our future with Him that He will not change. All men are liars at some level but God is always true to Himself. This is why God will always be true to us; it will not depend on how true we are to Him. He will be true to us even if everyone else is unfaithful. It is impossible for God to lie (He 6:18; Ti 1:2; Nu 23:19).
God was faithful to David after his adultery with Bathsheba and murder of her husband.