Been reading through Psalms, and this morning I read David’s prayer that he put to music in Psalm 7. The Psalm is a cry to God to save him from evil people, recognizing that God is his refuge, his place of safety. The basis of his hope is God’s wrath, his righteous indignation against sin and evil. You don’t really hear many church songs that praise God for his wrath. Not many lyrics in our music that includes phrases like “If a man does not repent, God will whet his sword (Psalm 7:12), or echoes of praise and thanksgiving because God will respond to sinful and rebellious people by bringing their own violence on their head (Psalm 7:16) or asking God to “let the evil of the wicked come to an end (Psalm 7:8).”
We are sophisticated people who hold on to God’s love, believing that is the single most important attribute. God is not a God of justice and anger, he is really a soft, fluffy God who always wants to give people a hug and make them feel like their are O.K. The problem is that this God will not be much of a help when you are in David’s situation. We do live in a world that is evil and full of narcissistic people who do horrible things. Just pick up a newspaper or read on online news source and it won’t take long to see things that turn your stomach and should make you angry. A quick look at the Post-Dispatch website this morning brought my eyes on these headlines.
- Man Held in Rape of Kirkwood Woman in Home
- Belleville Police Warn of Scams aimed at Elderly
- Man Shot to Death in City’s Vandeventer Neighborhood
I could go on, but you get the point. People do evil and the things they do should make us angry. There is something in us that believes the people doing these things ought to be judged. But how would those feelings change if the events of these stories happened to you or someone close to you whom you loved deeply? The truth is that the soft, fluffy, hugging God of our culture is impotent to do anything about evil. If all God does with human evil is to reach out a loving hand offering peace, evil people will continually reject Him and evil will get worse. That God cannot change the situation, He just won’t step in and deal with evil, nor will He bring about justice here or hereafter. But this is not the God of Scripture. David has hope because He knows that God has a righteous indignation against evil, He will act to demonstrate His own righteousness, holiness, and justice. In other words, whenever we as human beings live in rebellion against God and determine that we are our own god, eventually God will step in and bring justice. David’s hope when he is in the struggle is a God who will act, who is not impotent against evil, but who will show himself good and mighty against it.
The problem for David, and for you and me though, is that we too are evil. This means God’s wrath is directed to us as well. He hates our sin and idolatry as much as He hates the sin and evil from the newspaper. So what is David’s hope for himself. Study David’s life. He is not the ultimate good guy, he is deeply flawed and had several episodes that would have ended up putting him in the morning newspaper. But David realized that the same God who is judge can also be his shield. “My shield is with God, who saves the upright in heart (v. 10).” The hope for David is grace, not a wishy washy grace that just accepts evil, but a strong grace that steps in and saves people from evil. The key to this entire passage is the first phrase of verse 12, “If a man does not repent…” The reference to the upright in heart is not speaking of perfect people who do not sin, but a righteous people who have repented and received a righteousness that is not their own. As David fears evil against him, his hope is not in his own goodness or strength, his praise is to a God who will pour out his wrath on evildoers while at the same time demonstrating a powerful transforming love to those who live in repentance and faith. This is a God worth praising! This is the essence of the reason Jesus came! This is the beauty of the Gospel. So maybe we should sing a few songs praising God for his indignation! Our God is not helpless and impotent against evil.
I will give to the Lord the thanks due His righteousness,
And I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High!.