A consideration of Psalm 7’s teaching on God’s sovereign, particular grace was specifically requested by a brother from Portugal surprised at its omission from the four articles on "The Psalms Versus Common Grace" (CR News XIII:21-24).
Psalm 7 was penned by David, as the heading informs us, in response to "the words of Cush the Benjamite," whom I take to be the same as Shimei who cursed and railed on Israel’s king when he fled Jerusalem upon Absalom’s rebellion (II Sam. 16:5-14). Psalm 7 applies to all of David’s "enemies" (6) and, indeed, the (reprobate) wicked in general.
In this psalm, Israel’s king appeals to God as his deliverer (1-2), judge (3-9) and defence (10-17): "O Lord, don’t let the ungodly tear me in pieces (1-2). If I really am guilty of the terrible things with which Shimei charges me (3-4; II Sam. 16:7-8)—though I’m not (Ps. 7:4b)—then let the enemy kill me and trample my honour in the dust (5). Awake, Lord, and judge my enemies (6) and so Thy people will draw near Thee in praise (7). Vindicate me and all the ‘just,’ O Jehovah, and destroy the wicked (8-9). Thou art ‘my defence’ (10) and Thou art ‘angry with the wicked every day’ (11). The sin of the wicked will boomerang upon him (14-16) and Thou hast already prepared the instruments of his destruction (12-13). Therefore I will sing praise to my Lord (17)."
"God is angry with the wicked every day" (11) is especially relevant to the truth of uncommon grace. "With the wicked" is in italics in the Authorised Version but it gives the correct sense, for the next verse continues, "If he [i.e.,thewicked] turn not," Jehovah will destroy him (12). The terribly vivid imagery of God’s punishment of the ungodly—His sharpening the sword of judgment and bending His bow and filling it with arrows against him, yea, His preparation of the "instruments of death"—is realised in Jehovah’s cutting off the wicked and casting him into everlasting hell (12-13).
It is true that God is "angry" with the elect before their conversion. We "were by nature the children of wrath, even as others" (Eph. 2:3), for the Holy One of Israel saw our totally depraved natures and all our thoughts, words and deeds were 100% sinful. We experienced this wrath too in the pangs of our guilty consciences and the "bondage" of the "fear of death" (Heb. 2:15). Yet God also loved us with His infinite and irresistible love in Jesus Christ before the foundation of the world (Jer. 31:3; Eph. 1:4). But prior to God’s giving us repentance and faith, we had no knowledge or experience of His love; all that we knew or experienced was His anger against us for our sins.
God can even be said to be angry with His believing people when we fall into sin or continue impenitently in it for a time. This was David’s experience in Psalm 32:3-5 and in Psalm 6:1: "O Lord, rebuke me not in thine anger, neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure." Our heavenly Father is angry with His (spiritual) children when we disobey, as an earthly father is angry with his (physical) children when they disobey. In His holy "anger" and "displeasure," God "rebukes" and "chastens" us, to use the language of Psalm 6:1. Hebrews 12:6, quoting Proverbs 3:12, explains that God’s "chastening" of us as "sons" proceeds from His "love." In other words, God’s love for His believing children reveals itself in anger when we walk in sin. He loves us so much and He so seeks our holiness that He chastises us—sometimes severely—for our transgressions to bring us to repentance and so produce in us the "peaceable fruit of righteousness" (Heb. 12:5-11).
The "wicked" (Ps. 7:11) who "turn not" (12) and endure eternal torments (12-13; cf. 11:5-6) are the reprobate wicked. God is angry with them in His fiery indignation "every day" (7:11), from the day of their conception and the day of their birth to the day of their death, and every day in between. God is indignant with the reprobate wicked as he celebrates his birthdays or enjoys his holidays or rejoices on his wedding day or in the births of his children. God is angry with him on a Sunday, whether he spends the day playing golf or watching TV or even going to church! Nor are we to think that God is angry with the reprobate wicked for some time or part of "every day" (11). God is indignant with each and every one of them from the rising of the sun to the going down of the same. Yea, He is angry with them all day every day, even when they sleep.
As Paul states in Romans 9:13, quoting Malachi 1:3, "Esau have I hated." Isaac’s older son was not only hated by God all day every day; God hated him before the foundation of the world (in the way of his sin), for Romans 9:13 in its context is dealing with God’s unconditional and eternal election and reprobation. Moreover, God’s sovereign hatred of Esau (13) and His sovereign hardening of Pharaoh (17-18) are not merely references to these two men only. These principles apply to all the reprobate (13-24).
Since God is angry with the reprobate wicked every day (Ps. 7:11), it is not a surprise but entirely appropriate that He destroys them with His sharp sword and taut bow (12-13). In fact, one can argue the other way round: Given the terrible and everlasting torment that awaits the reprobate wicked (12-13), of course, God is angry with them even while they live on earth (11)!
God’s punishment of the reprobate wicked is entirely fair for they conceive, travail with and give birth to iniquity and falsehood (14). This is their progeny! Also there is poetic justice, for the wicked falls into the pit he made for others (15) and his trouble falls on his own head (16).
Justice is an intrinsic characteristic of the Almighty; He judges (8, 11) and exercises judgment (6). He is "the righteous God" (9) and His perpetual indignation with the reprobate wicked (11), issuing in their everlasting destruction (12-13) for their sins (14), is "according to his righteousness" (17), His unswerving commitment to Himself as His own perfect standard. Moreover, Jehovah’s indignation against, and punishment of, the reprobate is ground for holy worship, as David concludes Psalm 7: "I will praise the Lord according to his righteousness: and will sing praise to the name of the Lord most high" (17). There is no "common grace" for the reprobate here!
- Volume: 12
- Issue: 10
Rev. Angust Stewart (Wife: Mary)
Ordained - 2001
Pastorates: Covenant Protestant Reformed Church of Ballymena, Northern Ireland - 2001Website: www.cprf.co.uk/
Address7 Lislunnan Road
State or ProvinceCo.Antrim
Zip CodeBT42 3NR
Telephone(01144) 28 25 891851