“The LORD judges the peoples…”
This Psalm of David gives us several insights into a topic we don’t often care to think about… judgment. Yet, David confirms that judgment is an essential concern for people of faith.
David begins by focusing upon judgment of himself. In verses 3-5, he seeks to examine his own life and invites God to judge him… if he is guilty of any wrong.
This is also a New Testament principle. We read in 2 Corinthians 13:5: “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves…” And in preparing to partake of the Lord’s Supper: “Each one must examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup.” (1 Corinthians 11:28) The apostle treats this as essential, “For if you eat the bread or drink the cup without honoring the body of Christ, you are eating and drinking God’s judgment upon yourself.” (11:29)
Examining our own lives (for sin or for a superior/critical spirit) is the whole point behind Jesus’ teaching about “logs in our own eyes.” (Matthew 7:3)
See what is in yourself, and deal with that first, then… look to your brother’s issues! Judgment begins within our selves… and then, and only then, is it turned outward (to help our brothers and sisters see).
Second, in verses 6 and 11-13, David brings our attention to the terrible justice of God’s judgment. The judgment of God is encased in His wrathful and righteous anger against all that is unholy – against everything that is not like His Own character. Scripture is quick to warn us that: “It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Hebrews 10:31) His wrath, when it comes, is unrelenting and irreversible. We do not want to be on the receiving end of God’s terrible judgment… ever!
But most interesting, is the third thing David tells us about God’s judgment, in verse 12. God is never eager to judge… even the wicked. God does not delight in condemning or destroying people, but…
Even in the Old Testament (where God is supposed to be this angry and vengeful ogre of wrath), God’s judgment is often delayed for many years (sometimes for centuries) in the hope that the wicked would repent and turn from their evil ways. The wicked are given time… and opportunities for repentance before their own debased wickedness merits God’s terrible wrath (as illustrated so well in the account of Jonah and Nineveh!).
Lastly, David points us to the righteousness of God (8, 17). Our Judge is good and righteous – but He MUST judge evil and sin (otherwise He is NOT good and righteous).
This quality of God’s righteousness was placed on full display through our Lord Jesus – Who came to be God’s prescribed Means of deliverance from all judgment. Jesus took God’s judgment for us… so that we would never have to face our Judge as guilty and deserving of His terrible wrath.
Thanks be to God!