“The righteous shall rejoice when he sees the vengeance; He shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked, so that men will say, ‘Surely there is a reward for the righteous; surely He is God who judges in the earth.’” Psalm 58:10–11
Many find the subject of God’s judgment to be a disturbing, even terrifying, topic, and I understand why they find it so frightful; there’s no escaping it, it’s complete and final with no appeal or reprieve, and for the wicked the verdict and sentence are always the same, guilty and death.
But if you read any of the several psalms David wrote celebrating God’s justice and judgment you quickly get the message that David didn’t live in fear of the judgment; he longed for it, he relied upon it.
Psalm fifty-eight is all about God’s judgment. David begins in verses one through five by making his case for mankind’s need for the judgment. Then in verses six through eight, in very graphic terms, he calls for God to come and execute judgment. Finally in verses nine through eleven David describes the result of judgment; the righteous are saved from the thorns of the wicked, they rejoice as they see God overcome their oppressors, and they know that there’s a reward for the righteous.
Still the judgment described is frightening.
I do, however, find one reality about the description of God’s judgment comforting. The judgment described by David is all in direct relation to the actions of the wicked. The teeth of the attacking cobra and lion are broken before their able to bite, the arrows of the archer are shattered in pieces before they leave his bow. Had the wicked never plotted wickedness and then acted upon their evil plans the judgment would have been different.
The apostle Paul, in Romans chapter two verse six, tells us that in the judgment God will reward us according to our works. In actual substance I don’t know how that will work it’s enough for me that God knows and I’m confident that I can trust him with it. I’m greatly comforted that in every case of God’s judgment upon the wicked the punishment will fit the crimes.
For those wanting to dismiss the idea of God’s judgment, attempting to sweep it away by saying that God’s love would never let him do anything like that, David’s final words are a warning for you. Without God’s justice there’s no reward for the righteous. For us to be able to receive the reward of a world and a life clean from the presence of sin there must be justice and judgment, and the destruction of everyone and everything that is wicked.
Jesus came to call sinners to repentance and righteousness. Jesus came so that all could have a chance to choose God’s mercy and grace. The righteous experience that grace and they long to share it with others.
Like David I’m thankful for and rely upon God’s justice but even more I rely upon his grace.