Saturday, May 21, 2022

Divine Justice (Psalm 58)

"Break their teeth in their mouth, O God! Break out the fangs of the young lions, O LORD!" (Psalm 58:6).

Two main themes find vivid expression in Psalm 58: the believer’s stance against injustice through petition to God and the rejoicing of God’s people at the execution of divine judgments. Once again we find David strengthened by faith as he turns to God for justice in the face of unrighteous attacks by his enemies. “Although the whole world be set against the people of God, they need not fear, so long as they are supported by a sense of their integrity, to challenge kings and their counselors, and the promiscuous mob of the people,” Calvin said. “Should the whole world refuse to hear us, we must learn, by the example of David, to rest satisfied with the testimony of a good conscience, and with appealing to the tribunal of God.… Let us not cease to pray, even after the arrows of our enemies have been fitted to the string and destruction might seem inevitable.”

God’s people can face injustice with an assurance that a higher court operates. God will not allow the unrighteous deeds of His creation to go unpunished. Sooner or later, the unrepentant will face the judgments of God. Many of those judgments go unnoticed by us. We do not always discern God’s hand in the activities of men, but we can trust that He will faithfully bring about His glory and vindicate His righteousness.

As David prayed for God’s hand to smite the wicked in this psalm of imprecation, he declared that the “righteous shall rejoice when he sees the vengeance” (v. 10). Is this delight in God’s judgments contrary to Christian mercy? First, David did not pray out of personal hostility and revenge but by the guidance of the Holy Spirit as he penned these words. Therefore, there is nothing absurd in supposing that believers should rejoice in witnessing divine judgments. “When one is led by a holy zeal to sympathize with the justness of that vengeance which God many have inflicted, his joy will be as pure in beholding the retribution of the wicked, as his desire for their conversion and salvation was strong and unfeigned,” Calvin wrote. We should desire the conversion of our enemies, but when God executes His judgments, we must rejoice in His sovereign wisdom and praise His righteousness.

Remember that no human “supreme court” is truly supreme. God alone judges at this level. How should you respond before God when you witness divine judgments against unrepentant people? Even as you rejoice in God’s righteousness, endeavor to praise God for His justice but do so with a humble attitude.