Praising God’s judgement.
The psalm starts and ends with praise by the author Asaph. In the middle God is quoted speaking about his judgement.
The opening praise is of God’s name and his marvellous deeds. The closing praise is more precisely his character as a God who exalts the righteous but cuts off the horns – or the strength – of the wicked.
I was struck that God is described as provoking judgement and limiting it. Because he makes the earth and all its people quake, but he also holds its pillars firm.
God is in charge of the timing, he makes the appointment. We can’t force it.
God is in charge of the content of judgement: it’s a cup of spicy wine in his hand that no one anywhere can avoid draining to the last drop. A bitter process to be gone through for those who defy God.
It’s about God’s justice, he weakens the strong, cutting away their strength, and strengthens the weak. Not our sense of fairness though, it’s the affirmation of God’s rule and power.
What does it mean to embrace, to praise God’s judgement as this psalmist has?
A big part of it of delight at leaving every aspect of it to God. We don’t have to be concerned that in the long run everything will be fair and just. And we don’t have to make it happen.
We are allowed to see God’s hand in some real world situations where evil is bought low, and consequences play out, we can praise God for that.
At the same time, understand, in fact ultimately rejoice if we can, that the bits that don’t make immediate sense are in God’s hands.
I also plan to listen to the Spirit for moments to declare God’s judgement, all of it down to the last dreg. No holding back!
This psalm talks about it being a painful, disempowering, equalising process people will go though, which didn’t necessarily sound like it will always end in destruction for the arrogant to me.
Maybe I’ll have to drink a cup of it myself on occasion, to learn about my arrogance and defiance, I don’t know.
But certainly, if the timing is right for me to be part of the voices leading a defiant person to repentance, that is another thing I must trust God about, and be bold.
I sometimes get afraid because I’m over empathetic. I think ‘oh no, the truth about God as I understand it will break you’. And I hold back.
But it’s better to be broken before you die, if it’s your pride that is breaking, than leave our godless friends to risk the shrouded, unknown judgmental process that will occur after our years on earth are done.
Father, can I praise your fair, just judgement by being bold to mention it at the right times.