Psalm 9 answers the question, What will happen to the (reprobate) wicked? What will Jehovah do to them? "The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God" (17; cf. 3b, 5, 15). The psalmist affirms repeatedly that this is justice, divine justice: "thou satest in the throne judging right" (4b; cf. 7-8).
David declares, "The Lord is known by the judgment which he executeth" (16a). The believer’s saving knowledge of God includes knowing Him as the righteous judge. Jehovah reveals Himself as such in His Word and in this light we understand His judgments in history. "And," the Psalmist adds, "they that know thy name [i.e., the glorious revelation of Thyself, including Thy holy justice] will put their trust in thee" (10a).
The believing response of the individual saint to God’s righteous judgments, His "marvellous works," is adoration: "I will praise thee, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvellous works. I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High" (1-2). Concerning God’s just "doings," the church cries out, "Sing praises to the Lord, which dwelleth in Zion: declare among the people his doings" (11).
Psalm 9 concludes with the psalmist’s prayer that God punish the ungodly: "Arise, O Lord; let not man prevail: let the heathen be judged in thy sight. Put them in fear, O Lord: that the nations may know themselves to be but men. Selah" (19-20).
In order to understand more fully why the people of God earnestly pray, and worship the Lord, for His righteous judgment of the wicked, we must grasp the truth that the salvation of the elect church goes hand in hand with the destruction of the reprobate ungodly. "The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God. For the needy shall not alway be forgotten: the expectation of the poor shall not perish for ever" (17-18). Notice the italicised "For" (18), giving a reason why Jehovah punishes the wicked: to deliver His "needy" people from them (18)!
Our Father in heaven answers the prayers of His saints who are "oppressed" (9) and troubled (9, 13) by the ungodly (13), for He does not forget (12, 18) nor forsake (10) those who "trust in" and "seek" Him (10). Jehovah’s "judgment" (16) of the wicked (3-6, 15-17) is thus the "salvation" of the righteous (14). This, David explains, is "mercy" or grace for God’s people (13) but not mercy or grace to the reprobate, for the Almighty in His mercy and grace saves His elect church and justly destroys the ungodly (143:12).
Psalm 136 is similar. In His eternal "mercy" (to Israel), Jehovah slew the firstborn of Egypt (to whom this was not mercy) and brought out His people with a "strong hand" (10-12). It was the everlasting "mercy" of the Most High to Israel which drowned "Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea" (to whom this was not mercy), whereas the Old Testament church passed through on dry land (13-15). Likewise "mercy" to Israel meant that they received the "heritage" of trans-Jordan but Sihon and Og and their people (to whom this was not mercy) were slaughtered and lost their land (17-22).
Whereas Psalm 9 is a song of thanksgiving for God’s righteous judgment of the heathen, Psalm 10 is a lament concerning the wicked and their deeds (2-12): "Why standest thou afar off, O Lord? why hidest thou thyself in times of trouble?" (1). This inspired hymn concludes with the prayer that the Lord would "arise," "lift up [His] head" and "forget not the humble [who are persecuted by the ungodly]" (12), which petitions are enforced with arguments (14) and uttered with confidence (16-18). Neither Psalm 9 nor 10 are likely to be amongst people’s favourites from this the longest book in the Bible, but both are certainly instructive and "profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" (II Tim. 3:16).
Psalm 10:3 refers to "the covetous, whom the Lord abhorreth." Thus the Holy One of Israel despises, contemns and abhors the greedy or covetous man. Various commentators reverse the subject of the verb, making the verse read, "the covetous abhor the Lord." Though this is a possible reading of the Hebrew, there is no need to demur from the reading in our Authorized Version, followed by such commentators as Matthew Henry, William S. Plumer and C. H. Spurgeon.
Moreover, the same verb is used of God’s attitude towards apostate Israelites in Deuteronomy 32:19: "And when the Lord saw it, he abhorred them, because of the provoking of his sons, and of his daughters." Many texts in holy Scripture pronounce that God abhors, abominates, hates and loathes the reprobate wicked. "And I will destroy your high places, and cut down your images, and cast your carcases upon the carcases of your idols, and my soul shall abhor you" (Lev. 26:30). "For all that do such things, and all that do unrighteously, are an abomination unto the Lord thy God" (Deut. 25:16; cf. 18:12). "Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord: though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished" (Prov. 16:5; cf. 3:32; 6:16-19; 11:20; 17:15; 22:14). "Behold, ye [idols] are of nothing, and your work of nought: an abomination is he that chooseth you" (Isa. 41:24). "Mine heritage is unto me as a lion in the forest; it crieth out against me: therefore have I hated it" (Jer. 12:8). "All their wickedness is in Gilgal: for there I hated them: for the wickedness of their doings I will drive them out of mine house" (Hos. 9:15). "Three shepherds also I cut off in one month; and my soul lothed them, and their soul also abhorred me" (Zech. 11:8). "As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated" (Rom. 9:13; cf. Mal. 1:2-3).
The ground for God’s righteous abhorrence of the ungodly is their total depravity, as Psalm 10:2-11 explains so copiously: pride (2, 4), persecuting the innocent (2, 8-10), boasting (3), atheism (4, 11), self-sufficiency (6) and evil speech (7). Romans 3, which contains Scripture’s greatest delineation of the utter wickedness of fallen man, even quotes Psalm 10:7: "whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness" (Rom. 3:14).
Given the wicked’s hatred of the true and living God (Ps. 10:4, 11, 13) and His people (2, 8-10, 14, 18), it is no wonder that the eternal and righteous "King" (16) abhors them (3; 5:6) in this world and the next. Thus He punishes them "in His just judgment temporally and eternally" (Heidelberg Catechism, A. 10), in answer to His people’s prayers (Ps. 10:17-18): "Break thou the arm of the wicked and the evil man" (15a)! What now is left of a supposed universal love of God for the reprobate?
- Volume: 13
- Issue: 1
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