Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Is There Such a Thing as Godly Wrath in the Believer? Yes!

"Oh, that you would slay the wicked, O God! O men of blood, depart from me! They speak against you with malicious intent; your enemies take your name in vain! Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord? And do I not loathe those who rise up against you? I hate them with complete hatred; I count them my enemies."
- Psalm 139:19-22

In my church, we read a psalm (or a portion of a long one) to begin each Sabbath-day service. Then we sing the same Psalm. We go through the whole Psalter every 4-5 years this way. One of the benefits of this
practice is that we see the whole range of human emotions addressed in the Word of God. Ah, if only this practice were more common, perhaps we wouldn't see the saccharine, spineless Christianity which has become commonplace, even in professing evangelical churches.

Some may be astonished at the passage above. David, the man after God's own heart (I Samuel 13:14, cited also in Acts 13:22), actually talks about hating the enemies of God. Aren't we supposed to love everyone? Not according to the Bible.

This has become an issue with the recent killing of an abortion doctor. Abortionists have been taunting, "You Christians are supposed to love everyone!", a principle supposedly violated by this murder. While it is certainly true that it is a presumption against the Divine Judge to carry out vigilante justice, that is because we are to love and obey GOD, not for any supposed love toward someone who made a living by torturing and murdering unborn children.

This same David, in another Psalm, gave us the pattern for seeking God's justice against such an evil person. Referring to someone who persecuted him, David prays in Psalm 109:6-16,

"Appoint a wicked man against him;
     let an accuser stand at his right hand.
When he is tried, let him come forth guilty;
     let his prayer be counted as sin!
May his days be few;
     may another take his office!
May his children be fatherless
     and his wife a widow!
May his children wander about and beg,
     seeking food far from the ruins they inhabit!
May the creditor seize all that he has;
     may strangers plunder the fruits of his toil!
Let there be none to extend kindness to him,
     nor any to pity his fatherless children!
May his posterity be cut off;
     may his name be blotted out in the second generation!
May the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the Lord,
     and let not the sin of his mother be blotted out!
Let them be before the Lord continually,
     that He may cut off the memory of them from the earth!
For he did not remember to show kindness,
     but pursued the poor and needy
and the brokenhearted, to put them to death."

In Romans 12:19, the Apostle Paul says, "Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, 'Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord.'" He is referring back to such Old Testament warnings as Deuteronomy 32:41, "I will take vengeance on My adversaries and will repay those who hate Me." Certainly it would be a great act of rebellion to usurp the authority of God by seeking vigilante justice. However, if vengeance is properly part of the holy purposes of God, how can it be any less holy to pray to Him to carry out His purposes?

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