The past few months, I have been enjoying reading and praying through the Psalms. As I’ve read, it seems David often called out to God to bring on His wrath and punish his enemies.
Shame on David!, right? What about compassion…what about turning your cheek…what about grace…mercy?
My sense, as I grew up in a church-centered environment, has always been that Love = good and Wrath = bad. Afterall, the Bible says ‘judge not lest ye be judged’, ‘pray for those who persecute you’, ‘But I say to you, do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.’ I don’t recall any good instruction that addressed God’s wrath (though it was clearly there in some of those children’s bible stories – the parted sea did drown pharoah’s armies)…almost as though it was ‘the dark side of God’s character’…and we just don’t talk about that.
So now, as I see God revealed in the Word, I must find agreement in the truth that God is perfect and free in His love AND that God is perfect and free in His wrath. BOTH are his and both are beautiful and perfect. But how is ‘wrath’ beautiful? How does David rightly call on God to express His wrath?
Could it be that David trusted in God…trusted that God would be perfect in executing His wrath on evildoers at the perfect time and in the perfect way? Maybe David was calling out for God’s help in the same way we might if we understood that God does still execute His plans in both love and wrath, God does still save His elect and God does still send sinners to Hell…every day.
If we hated sin… like God does, maybe we would be praying for God to avenge Himself against the evildoers in our world. If we have misunderstood His wrath, what else have we misunderstood? We are in a battle…there are two sides…If we love sin, we are not on the Lord’s side. If we love sin, we will face His wrath at the perfect time.
How will we cry out for ‘mercy’ on behalf of the lost? How will we pray like David in Psalm 56:7,
“For their crime will they escape? In wrath cast down the peoples, O God!
Consider Jesus’ words recorded in Matthew 7:12-29…He saves those who hear and obey and He sends away those who don’t.
“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.
All authority in heaven and earth belongs to Jesus Christ…repent and believe…follow Jesus…by way of the Cross…and be saved!