God’s Justice, Judgment, and Repentance

On inauguration day, the news spoke about President Trump’s failed promises over the last four years. The other big news was the installation of President Biden and his promises for his term in office. There is a website that tracks the promises made by political leaders (1) The site totals and describes the percentage of promises fulfilled, compromised, stalled, and broken. America’s political leaders are held accountable for their promises by other leaders, by countries worldwide, and by the US population. I’m grateful that our leaders are held to account for their pledges and equally glad that I am not one of them. I would probably have a 90% rating for broken promises. That is why I don’t usually make them, following the advice in James 5:12 (“…do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your ‘yes’ be yes and your ‘no’ be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.”) But there is one who keeps every promise he makes because he is omnipotent, faithful, sovereign, and perfect. God’s promises reflect his character—they are dependable, sure, and either already fulfilled and in the process of being fulfilled. In particular, we love to dwell on God’s promises to protect us, provide for us spiritually & eternally, and secure our inheritance. We don’t like to think about his commitment to judge unrepentant sinners, though. Yet, this promise will be fulfilled, just like the others, if not now or soon, then at the final judgment. The Lord is glorified by his hatred of sin and wrath for rejection of Christ’s atonement. Unlike the media, God knows every single thing that we do and every confession we make. But, since Christ has redeemed us by his grace, our confessions and repentant hearts are pleasing to him. His forgiveness is so sweet. So then, why meditate on and write about his judgment for the unrepentant? We do it because the Bible has so much to say about God’s coming holy, final judgment. (See 2 Peter 3:9-13.) Since the Holy Spirit superintended over the Bible’s content, through our godly church fathers, we are accountable to him to know and embrace all that it teaches.

A Godly, Eternal Perspective

“If men have no knowledge or belief of the eternal God, they will be very apt to think him such as themselves. How hard is it to form any thoughts of eternity…Settle therefore in your hearts that you shall certainly be called to give an account of all things done in the body, whether good or evil. And let a humble and diligent walking before God, and a frequent judging of yourselves, show a firm belief of the future judgment, though many live as if they were never to give any account at all. This day will come, when men are secure, and have no expectation of the day of the Lord. The stately palaces, and all the desirable things wherein worldly-minded men seek and place their happiness, shall be burned up; all sorts of creatures God has made, and all the works of men, must pass through the fire, which shall be a consuming fire to all that sin has brought into the world, through a refining fire to the works of God’s hand. What will become of us, if we set our affections on this earth, and make it our portion, seeing all these things shall be burned up? Therefore make sure of happiness beyond this visible world…And that we may avoid being led away, we must seek to grow in all grace, in faith, and virtue, and knowledge. Labor to know Christ more clearly, and more fully; to know him so as to be more like him, and to love him better.” (2) God’s righteous judgment proves his indignation toward sin and desire for repentance. As believers, we should rejoice in God’s righteous wrath for sin and unbelievers’ repentance, as we also repent to draw closer to God.

David’s Repentant Heart

David sought to know the Lord more fully through his confessions. Psalm 51 is a well-known testimony of his brokenness over sin, and we will spend considerable time examining it. Today, though, we will see, in Psalm 7, where David was sure of his innocence in a matter where he was accused. God’s mercy and grace for him inspired David to invite God to hold him accountable. Psalm 7 reveals David’s repentant attitude, even when he was innocent of accusations. “O Lord my God, if I have done this, if there is wrong in my hands, if I have repaid my friend with evil or plundered my enemy without cause, let the enemy pursue my soul and overtake it, and let him trample my life to the ground and lay my glory in the dust.” (vs. 3-5) David’s confidence in asking God to judge him is the result of his repentant heart. Later, he writes, “The Lord judges the peoples; judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness and according to the integrity that is in me…God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day. If a man does not repent, God will whet his sword; he has bent and readied his bow; he has prepared for him his deadly weapons, making his arrows fiery shafts.” (Psalms 7:8, 11-13)

God’s Justice and Judgement

In Psalm 7, “The singers see their requests as part of the larger picture: God is a righteous judge, to whom all the peoples of mankind, and not just Israel, are accountable;  thus his anger and indignation are directed against those who threaten his faithful ones (the righteous, v. 9; and the upright in heart, v. 10). In the Psalms, judging is more often than not a saving action, God intervening on behalf of the innocent and oppressed…The particular deliverance, then, is part of God’s larger project of putting the whole world back to its right order (v. 9). God’s justice gives hope for vindication when we are in the right. But in the matter of eternal salvation, no one is in the right except Christ alone, and in him we take refuge.” (3) David was innocent in the crime of his accusers, but “David’s…words do not mean that he is perfect, only that he is innocent of the crime of which he was charged. The question is not whether David was morally perfect but whether he was innocent of this particular slander. And he was! David was known for his integrity and for his generous conduct toward enemies… , although David is pleading for justice in his own case, he does not separate his prayer from the concern that God will also exercise judgment over the peoples of the earth. In fact, the cry “let the Lord judge the peoples” and the appeal ‘Judge me, O Lord’ are placed side by side in verse 8. This is not a selfish concern on David’s part. It is the personal side of a broader and perfectly proper concern…The second half of Psalm 7 is an expression of David’s deep confidence in God…David says that God will protect him, being his shield against foes; God is righteous, expressing his wrath against evil every day; God will judge his accusers if they do not repent.” (4)

Rejoicing in God’s Perfect Justice and Mercy

To know God fully and biblically is to accept that “God is angry with the wicked every day; wicked men are daily sinning, and God is always the same in his nature, and has the same aversion to sin continually; and though he is not always making men examples of his wrath, yet his wrath is revealed from heaven against all unrighteousness of men…and when he is silent he is still angry, and in his own time will stir up all his wrath, and rebuke in his hot displeasure.” (5) “God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day. If a man does not repent, God will whet his sword…” (Psalm 7:11-12) “Amidst the threatenings of wrath, we have a gracious offer of mercy. God gives sinners warning of their danger and space to repent and prevent it. He is slow to punish, and long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish.” (6) These are the days of grace when God allows everyone to repent—to turn to Christ for forgiveness, to become his children rather than his enemies. “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9) God’s final, righteous judgment proves both his indignation toward sin and desire for repentance. We rejoice in God’s righteous offence for sin—including abortion, racial oppression, and unbelievers’ repentance for violation of the sacredness of life and God’s divinity. Outside of Christ, we are the same.“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly…For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” (Romans 5:6, 10-11)

Related Scripture: Psalm 18:20-24; Isaiah 59:15-19; Lamentations 2:1-8; Nahum 1:6-7; Romans 3:21-26; Peter 3:9-13.

  1. (https://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/promises/)
  2. Henry, Matthew, “Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on the Bible, 2 Peter 3:15, https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhn/2-peter-3.html
  3. English Standard Version Study Bible Notes, (Psalm 7:6–11), (digital edition), Crossway, 2008.
  4. Boice, James, “Boice Expositional Commentary Series,” Psalm 7, Baker Books, Software version, 1998.
  5. Gill, John, “John Gill’s Exposition on the Whole Bible,” Psalm 7:11, https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/psalms-7.html
  6. Matthew Henry, Ibid.

January 22, 2021

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