By Phillip G. Kayser at DCC on 11-20-2011
Stalin's murder of millions of people is a quite well known fact. Nobody knows the exact figure, but I have seen estimates from an absolute low of 10 million to 64 million people, with 42 million probably being closer to the mark.
Even Kruschev, who is responsible for the death of 4 million people himself, was outraged by Stalin's atrocities. You can download from the Congressional website a long speech that Khrushchev gave in a secret meeting of the Kremlin when he came to power. Somehow it got leaked and quickly spread around the world. But it was a scathing attack upon Stalin's brutality. And according to Congressman Tsongas, at one point in his tirade against Stalin, a voice cried out, "And where were you, Comrade Khrushchev, when all these crimes were being committed?" Khrushchev paused, look out over the hall trying to figure out who had spoken, and in a loud voice demanded, "Who said that?" The hall was absolutely silent. Khrushchev said a second time, "Whoever said that, stand up." Again, no one moved. Then Khrushchev looked in the general direction that the voice had come from, and said, "Comrade, where you are now is where I was then."
We can understand that kind of silence, can't we? What about silence if it means you are going to lose your job? I had a friend that knew that she was going to lose her job because she could not stand silent in the face of criminal acts by her company. It took boldness to do it, but it was a hard, hard decision. Many of us have been silent at times that we should have spoken. It's the easiest course to take when you are facing peer pressure. It's easier to be silent on the City Council when you know you will be hammered by the homosexual lobby. Brothers and sisters, pray for these guys. It's a tough job. As Penn State has discovered, guilty silence can happen even in respected universities. Now that the story of pedophilia has broken, everybody wonders how in the world the coaches, the staff, and the board could have remained silent. But when you think about it, guilty silence is easy to fall into when it could mean a career loss or even death at worst. So even though we are going to be looking at a Psalm that condemns civil magistrates throughout the land Israel for failing to speak out against the tyranny of Saul, we've got to take it in perspective and realize that speaking up can often be extremely tough. I didn't realize how hard it would be to speak against the majority until I had to do it a few times at the PCA's General Assembly – and that's among Christians. You feel bad that you are having to speak against friends, and you feel strongly the power of peer pressure. But you have to do it sometimes.
So we have come to 1 Samuel 25, verse 1. Commentators have pointed out that this verse is a hinge on which the book of 1-2 Samuel turns. (And by the way, you do need to treat those two as one book. We've divided them up into two books, but it wasn't originally that way.) There is a clue in this verse as to why David starts writing imprecatory Psalms not just against Saul, but against other magistrates in Israel as well. And we will get to that clue in a little bit.
But it is a transition verse in other ways. With the death of Samuel the period of the Judges definitively ends. Samuel was the last of the judges. He had had a co-regency with Saul, even though the latter years were lame duck years for Samuel. This period of time also speaks of a lost opportunity that could have occurred in verse 1. Psalm 58 excoriates the magistrates of Israel by saying, "Do you indeed speak righteousness, you silent ones?" Some versions have translated it ‘you gods," but they have had to emend the Hebrew to do that. The Hebrew clearly says, "you silent ones." He is astonished at their silence. It is a guilty silence. And in the remainder of the Psalm David makes clear that by their silent cowardice they too had lost their right to be magistrates. There does come a time when magistrates lose all credibility when they fail to use their office to resist tyranny. Their silence sacrifices the country in order for them to survive in office.
And this is exactly what is happening today. In a time when radical measures need to be taken against tyranny (including impeachments), we have magistrates who are playing it safe. Such times as Psalm 58 deals with are not times for political politeness, collegiality, and bi-partisan compromise. In fact, Psalm 58 makes it clear that silence in the face of tyranny is rebellion against God.
Samuel's missed opportunity (v. 1a)
So let me put that Psalm into historical context. Verse 1 says, "Then Samuel died." This was the end of an era. In his earlier years, Samuel was one of the most remarkable leaders in Israel. Keil and Delitzsch said, "since the days of Moses and Joshua, no man had arisen to whom the covenant nation owed so much as to Samuel." But he still had feet of clay.
His main weakness was that he had a hard time confronting magistrates despite the fact that he was in a position to do so. And since commentaries say that verse 1 (especially in its reference to the Wilderness of Paran and its structural linkage) is talking about lost opportunities, I want to give you brief history of Samuel's lost opportunities. In 1 Samuel 8 Samuel refused to impeach his sons. The text says, "But his sons did not walk in his ways; they turned aside after dishonest gain, took bribes, and perverted justice." He was in a perfect position to deal with that corruption in government, but he failed to do so. Inaction is always easier than confrontation.
The second missed opportunity to rectify evil came in chapter 13 when Samuel brought God's revelation to Saul that he was disqualified for office. Now it took courage for him to bring the message, but Samuel didn't act on that message. He didn't call the other magistrates together to confront Saul. He did sort of like Joe Paterno – he reported to the king, and he washed his hands of the affair. "OK, I've given my message, and it's off my conscience." He blew it when God handed him an amazing opportunity, and Israel suffered as a result. And by the way, this is why there aren't very many Runnymeads in history. You've got a picture of Runnymead in your bulletins. That was the place in England where church leaders and civil leaders gathered together and forced King John to sign the Magna Charta or get deposed from the throne. It was a wonderful moment in history when leaders stood up and did what they are supposed to do. Samuel should have done that. But it takes courage to do that, and apparently Samuel lacked that courage.
Chapter 15 was Samuel's next missed opportunity. Once again he brought God's message to Saul that God had rejected him from being king and had already chosen another man for that position. And Saul begged him saying, "I have sinned, yet honor me now, please, before the elders of my people and before Israel, and return with me that I may worship the LORD your God" (1 Sam. 15:30). Saul knew that if he didn't do something quick he would be off the throne. So he says, "I'm sorry," and he begs Samuel not to make a confrontation and to give an outward sign that he still approved of Saul. And Samuel did it. Rather than taking God's message to the elders and other magistrates and asking them to make Saul step down, Samuel practically endorsed Saul by praying on his behalf in front of all the people. His compromise in order to be polite cost Israel enormously.
And after that Saul gained such power that Samuel became afraid of him. It became almost too late to do anything about it. When God told Samuel to anoint David in chapter 16, it was a perfect opportunity to do it publically and to force Saul to step down. And Samuel begged off from doing that. He told God that he was afraid that Saul would kill him if he did it. So God relented and let Samuel do it secretly. And from that time on Samuel played it safe and sacrificed the country's welfare for his own safety. He never again spoke out. He stayed holed up in his home in Ramah. That's why Saul left him alone and didn't try to kill him like he tried to do with David. So Samuel turned from being a statesman to being a politician. This guilty silence was incredibly disappointing to David, as Psalm 58 makes clear. And we will get to that Psalm in a moment. But with the death of Samuel, a rallying point for change was lost.
Israel's missed opportunity (v. 1b)
But what was even more disappointing was the silence of the rest of Israel. One man alone cannot overturn tyranny. Samuel could have been a leverage point, but he would have had to have had the support of the people and the magistrates. And what better time for them to have acted than when David risked his life by coming to this funeral. He mourned for Samuel right along with all the rest of Israel. Verse 1 goes on to say, "and the Israelites [And the Hebrew is actually much more explicit. I don't even understand this translation since every other version I have takes it more literally. The Hebrew literally says, "all the Israelites"] gathered together and lamented for him, and buried him at his home in Ramah." The Hebrew makes clear that it is only after that that David left Israel. So the New American Commentary says that text indicates that David went to the funeral as well. David the outlaw was there.
Now why do I say that this was a missed opportunity? It is mainly because of Psalm 58's commentary that all the rulers of Israel remained silent about what should have happened. They were more prepared to get along than to push for God's will to be done in civics. They already knew what God's will was. And according to David, their failure to speak was an act of cowardice. What better time to ask Saul to step down from the throne than when the entire nation of Israel is paying its respects to Samuel – the very man who had asked Saul to step down. At least Samuel was willing to speak God's word into the civil arena. And here was David at that funeral, the very one whom all Israel now knew to be God's choice. He was there. Everyone knew that Jonathan himself believed that David should be on the throne. Jonathan did not keep that a secret. And based on chapter 23, where David tried to talk a magistrate into resisting Saul, I believe that David tried to do it here. This was the ideal time for a Runnymead – for a transition. But it still takes courage to act even when the timing is perfect. With the murders of the seventy priests on Saul's hands, he should have been impeached. There was no excuse for not impeaching him. And I believe that David gave them that opportunity. With the opportunity lost, he had to flee.
A second Wilderness of Paran (1Sam. 25:1c)
The significance of David's being in Paran (v. 1c; Numb. 10:12; 12:16; 13:3,26; 32:8; Deut. 9:23; Josh. 10:41; 14:6-7)
And so the writer of 1 Samuel makes a symbolic connection to the Wilderness of Paran. By mentioning that David fled to the wilderness of Paran, it would have placed an immediate word picture in the minds of the Israelite readers. And let me try to paint that word picture. The text says, "And David arose and went down to the Wilderness of Paran."
The Wilderness of Paran was outside of Israel, and it was a mournful symbol of lost opportunity. This was a powerful image for their minds. Paran was the place where the first set of spies were sent by Moses into the land of Canaan to strategize on how to take it over. When they returned to the Wilderness of Paran, they admitted that it was a good land, but they refused to enter. They were fearful. And Deuteronomy 9:23 calls that fearful inaction "rebellion." And Psalm 58 speaks of this lost opportunity in 1 Samuel 25 as cowardly rebellion on the part of the magistrates of Israel. So for all time, the Wilderness of Paran became a symbol of 1) lost opportunity, 2) of cowardly magistrates, 3) and of the true Israel having to wander in the Wilderness of Paran because of that cowardice.
And so commentaries point out that David is a type of Israel wandering in the wilderness until the previous generation died off, and a new generation of Jews arose who would fight with a total faith in God. And so they point out that this verse is the hinge to that structuring of the book.
A growing army of Israelites (chapters 25-30 with 1Chron. 12)
Subpoint B - just as the Wilderness of Paran became a training ground for the next generation of faithful Israelites under Moses and Joshua, from this chapter to chapter 30, the Wilderness of Paran becomes a training ground for David and an army of defectors that is described as "a great army, like the army of God." (1 Chron. 12:22). This was the training ground for the new army of God. This was the underground resistance that was beginning to develop.
Waiting for leaders to be leaders (1 Sam. 25-27 with Psalm 58)
I don't often talk about the structure of a book (though it's always in the back of my mind). But in terms of the overall structure of the book, this verse hints that God was going to leave Israel to suffer with their guilty silence and inaction until their leaders are willing to be leaders. And in the next few chapters there will be sections that will show how God brings those leaders to be willing to do so, and be willing to side with David. And in the meantime, David begins the formation of a remnant of Israel (a new Israel so-to-speak), and a new leadership that would grow into an army ready to once again take Canaan for King Jesus. And it is in the light of this transitional verse that I want to give a very quick overview of Psalm 58. So please turn to Psalm 58 – the Psalm that speaks of guilty silence.
First, the title says that this is set to "Do not Destroy." So this thematically ties this Psalm together with the other Palms that were dedicated to not being engaged in revolutions. We are not to be revolutionaries. What David wanted was magistrates who were willing to stand up for righteousness and magistrates who would lead their citizens in godly rebellion. David was no revolutionary, but he knew that God allowed interposition and resistance to tyranny.
Verse 1 says, "Do you indeed speak righteousness, you silent ones? Do you judge uprightly, you sons of men?" Here the rulers of the nation are accused in the first phrase of failing to speak and in the second phrase of failing to judge uprightly. And those two really go hand in hand. Guilty silence and inaction seem to be twin partners. Haile Selassie, the emperor of Ethiopia when my parents worked there, said this: "Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted, the indifference of those who should have known better, the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most, that has made it possible for evil to triumph." That is a tremendous statement that I wish was taped to the mirror of every magistrate in this nation. Let me repeat that. He said, "Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted, the indifference of those who should have known better, the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most, that has made it possible for evil to triumph."
Has that happened in America? It certainly has. This inaction and this guilty silence is happening every day. There are a few magistrates who have been boldly speaking and trying to take action, but for the most part they are a voice crying in the wilderness. And it's not just government officials who have guilty silence. While the media is obnoxiously loud and persistent in pushing ungodliness on our nation, it is strangely silent about the issues that matter most. They don't report on the atrocities that happen in the womb. They don't report on the horrible outcomes of fetal stem cell research. They don't report on the homosexual terrorists who make life miserable for churches. They are silent about hundreds of issues that need to be exposed.
And it's not just the media. You see the police in San Francisco standing silently by while the homosexual group Act Up is painting graffiti on church, squirting church members who are entering the church with unknown liquids, grabbing and terrorizing little kids. It's a guilty silence. We have a deafening silence of magistrates to do anything against activist judges like Judge William Sharp – who basically was attempting to kidnap a daughter from her mother and force the daughter to live with a lesbian who whom she is scared to death of – all to please the homosexual community. That is such a travesty of justice that the silence is doubly aggravated. I won't take the time to outline more examples of the guilty silence and cowardly inaction of local, state, and federal officials in our nation, but I think you could talk for hours about it. It's obvious. And such guilty silence is condemned by this Psalm.
But David says that such silence is even worse. It actually shares in Saul's guilt. It's almost like being an accomplice. When magistrates do nothing to protect the unborn who are being torn apart limb by limb, they themselves are considered by God to be guilty of violence. So verse 2 says, No, in heart you work wickedness; you weigh out the violence of your hands in the earth." They might be able to say, "I didn't do it. I didn't do any violence. Saul did it." But God says "in heart" you are no better. Your heart's desire to not lose your cushy jobs means that your hearts have weighed out and contributed to the violence. Well, let's move on and see where this guilty silence comes from:
Verse 3 says, "The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies." He is saying that he is not surprised. This is the normal behavior of depraved man. What do you expect if the doctrine of total depravity is true? It takes something abnormal to give men integrity. This is why Scripture calls for us to put saved, godly men into office. There is at least a chance for them to put the sinful impulses into check by God's grace.
In verses 4-5 David indicates that the hearts of these magistrates were very resistant to doing the right thing. "Their poison is like the poison of a serpent; they are like the deaf cobra that stops its ear, which will not heed the voice of charmers, charming ever so skillfully." They know the truth, and yet they ignore it. They stop their ears to the truth. They don't want to hear anything that will bother their conscience. I watched this one video of a guy who is trying to interview congressmen about a controversial subject and you can tell that they don't want to talk about, hear about it, or for sure to say anything on camera. They are stopping their ears to anything uncomfortable. And of course, this subject is uncomfortable, isn't it?
So David is saying that this doctrine of depravity that affects all of us (we are not pointing fingers here – it affects all of us), is a doctrine that must be taken into account when you develop your philosophy of government. Depraved men do not somehow become angels when they get into government. This is why it is such stupidity for Americans to trust so much power to the federal government. They need to read these verses on total depravity. When you give unlimited power to depraved men, something awful will come of it. This is why the founding fathers of America put so many checks and balances into the constitution. Those checks and balances were designed to slow government down, make it inefficient, and give plenty of time for opposition to bad bills to arise. They took the doctrine of total depravity seriously in their civics. In fact, a few years ago I taught several College lessons on the impact that the doctrine of total depravity had upon American institutions. All the founding fathers of America talked about it. Our founding fathers were not dummies. They understood the implications of doctrines like this, and doctrines like the sovereignty of God. And we must understand those implications as well and remove most of the powers that have been accumulating at the national levels. Halfway measures with a presidential candidate will not do. The power needs to be stripped out of their hands since power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. David understood the nature of Biblical civics.
Now, what do you do when removing power from the central government becomes impossible? What do you do when magistrates won't rein a king Saul in? Well, in verses 6-8 David moves on to say that when such depravity becomes entrenched in power and institutionalized, change becomes impossible, and it becomes necessary for the church to pray God's curses against such magistrates. We call these words "imprecations," and the Psalms that contain them are called the imprecatory Psalms. Look at verse 6: "Break their teeth in their mouth, O God! Break out the fangs of the young lions, O LORD!" In a sense this is self-protection. When the church is being devoured by tyrants, it is right to ask God to declaw those lions and to take out their fangs or weapons.
But before we go there, it is worth asking, "How can we who are also sinners, and who have been recipients of mercy, pray for the destruction of evil rulers?" People have asked, "How is that consistent with Christianity?" Well, I would point out first of all that the New Testament not only uses these imprecatory Psalms, but pronounces curses on civil magistrates. You can see this in Matthew 23, Acts 3, Galatians, 2 Timothy 4, James, Jude, and Revelation. In fact, the imprecations of Revelation are far stronger than anything in this Psalm. The New Testament shows that Christianity is anything but a religion of mild mannered people, teaching other mild mannered people, how to be more mild mannered. No. The book of Revelation is a spiritual war manual. So I would say first of all, anyone who denies that these Psalms are Christian hasn't read the New Testament very carefully.
But secondly, I would point out that this prayer is really not our prayer. It is Christ's prayer. And Christ has the right to pray as He wants. And Hebrews 2:12 indicates that Christ wants to sing these Psalms in the midst of the brethren. That means that if we are not willing to come into agreement with Him and sing His prayers, He won't sing them. But he is willing to sing these Psalms in the midst of the church (through the church) if we are willing to put these Psalms on our lips. And to prove that, I highly recommend that you read James Adams book, The War Psalms of the Prince of Peace. It is a marvelous exposition of this doctrine.
But here is another problem. There is a sense in which these words come against every one of us. Every one of us has been guilty as some point, haven't we? How can we come into agreement with these curses without being cursed ourselves? And the answer is that if you haven't been cursed in Christ, you haven't even been saved. This is why the New Testament is so clear that when you got saved, you died on the cross to your old life and you rose again with Christ from the grave. You knew that you deserved such judgments as this Psalm pronounces, but you by faith let those judgments fall on your substitute, Jesus. And so there is a sense in which the essence of Christianity is judgment – judgment for all who are outside of Christ, and judgment on Christ for all who are in Him. But there is no salvation without judgment. True Christianity never divorces God's righteous judgments from His grace. The only way you can escape from the judgments of this Psalm is to say to God, "Lord, I deserve these judgments. I agree with these judgments. You would be perfectly righteous in sending me to hell. But I thank you for sending Your Son to be my substitute instead. Thank you Lord Jesus for dying in my place and giving me Your righteousness. By repentance I cast my sins on You and by faith I receive the clothing of Your righteousness. Holy Spirit, thank you for convicting me and uniting me to the Son's judgment and the Son's forgiveness." When we approach these Psalms that way, we will not pray them against God's enemies self-righteously or maliciously. We will know that there but for the grace of God go all of us. But if we understand sin and salvation we will certainly agree with these Psalms.
But fourthly, I would say that there are two ways that these prayers against magistrates can be answered. One way is by God converting them, in which case they are no longer enemies because Jesus bore the judgment in their place. The enemy has been destroyed and they have been converted to friends. The other way is for God to take them out and give the church peace. Either way is a blessing.
Some people have been so influenced by postmodernism that they cannot imagine praying such words against a magistrate or against anyone else. They think it is inconsistent with the advancement of the Gospel. But it is quite the opposite. Johannes G. Vos said,
God's kingdom cannot come without Satan's kingdom being destroyed. God's will cannot be done in earth without the destruction of evil. Evil cannot be destroyed without the destruction of men who are permanently identified with it. Instead of being influenced by the sickly sentimentalism of the present day, Christian people should realize that the glory of God demands the destruction of evil. Instead of being insistent upon the assumed, but really non-existent, rights of men, they should focus their attention upon the rights of God. Instead of being ashamed of the Imprecatory Psalms, and attempting to apologize for them and explain them away, Christian people should glory in them and not hesitate to use them in the public and private exercises of the worship of God.
And so let's read these words together and seek to have a Christ-centered and God honoring view of them. If you've got a New King James Bible, why don't you join me in reading verses 6-9. I will wait just a sec, while you find your places. We will be reading Psalm 58:6—9 from the New King James Version. And keep in mind that this is the prayer of Christ that we are coming into agreement with, so let's pray it with real enthusiasm – beginning at verse 6: "Break their teeth in their mouth, O God! Break out the fangs of the young lions, O LORD! Let them flow away as waters which run continually; when he bends his bow, let his arrows be as if cut in pieces. Let them be like a snail which melts away as it goes. Like a stillborn child of a woman, that they may not see the sun. Before your pots can feel the burning thorns, He shall take them away as with a whirlwind, as in His living and burning wrath."
Amen. Such words ought to put to silence forever the silly bumper stickers that say, "Smile, God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life." God has a wonderful plan for those who repent and put their faith in Christ. He has a wonderful plan for those who love our Lord. But His plan is anything but wonderful for those who mock Him and persevere in their hatred for the Son and in their attempts to resurrect the religion of humanism in America. They are going to face nothing but God's wrath.
But what is most interesting about this Psalm is that these judgments don't just fall upon the Stalins and the Hitlers of this world. They fall upon silent magistrates who aren't doing anything to rebuke or stop those Stalins and Hitlers. Guilty silence is a damnable silence when there is tyranny. That is exactly what this Psalm is saying. And if we reject the judgment of this Psalm against all guilty silence, then we are rejecting Christ since this is the prayer of Christ.
But let's move on. If you are like me, you have a much easier time agreeing with God's justice than you do rejoicing in it. David had the same struggle with God's justice in the cases of Saul and Absalom. But by God's inspiration he wrote down what should be a magistrate's attitude. And really, it was easier for David to have this attitude with other criminals than it was with Saul or Absalom. Verse 10 says, "The righteous shall rejoice when he sees the vengeance; He shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked, so that men will say, surely there is a reward for the righteous; surely He is God who judges in the earth." About the closest I have come to this is when Jeffrey Dahmer was killed. I truly rejoiced when he was taken out. I also rejoiced when the former president of Sudan was taken out. I rejoiced when Bin Laden was taken out. But David is saying that a civil magistrate is a minister of God's vengeance – exactly the same message of Romans 13. And he is saying that any civil magistrate worth His salt will spill the blood of murderous tyrants. That is what the Psalm is saying. It is saying that magistrates should rejoice in fighting against Saul. Notice that I didn't say that he will engage in revolution. We have already seen that David refused to raise the sword against the civil magistrate except in two situations: First, when he was deputized by a civil magistrate (who later turned cowardly). The second situation was when he was a civil magistrate himself. But what I am saying is that any civil magistrate worth His salt will spill the blood of murderous tyrants, and rejoice in the privilege. He will sign up for a godly war and feel bad if he can't fight. He will not be a pacifist. His heart will hunger for justice.
Some of you women may be cringing at this, but that is precisely why the Bible says that women should never be civil magistrates. And if one of you ever runs for civil magistrate, God bless you, but I'm not going to vote for you. I just don't think that a woman can be a good head of the military. It is inconsistent with a woman's nurturing function. That's not to say that women can't kill in self-defense. They can. In fact, their nurture of their children may mean that you are dead meat if you try to kill their children. You can still find some Jael's who can pound a stake through the head of a Sisera. You can. Women can do that when needed. Some of those frontiers women knew how to shoot pretty good.
But it is very hard for a woman to say verse 10. And that's one of several reasons that the Bible gives as to why women should never be civil magistrates. Isaiah 3 says that it is a sign of God's judgment when women rule. Women magistrates tend to either be too Hawkish (throwing other people in danger's way) or too passive. And I think this difference is built not just into the female soul, but into the female brain. The book His Brain; Her Brain, documents the way hormones function from the time a baby is within the womb to make women's brains quite different from men's brains. It makes women much more capable than men at certain tasks, and vice versa. That's the way God intended it. God made women much more nurturing, and much more disposed to take into consideration a hundred things that we men miss, and we desperately need you women to fill in our gaps. God made women to be more relationship oriented than goal oriented. God made them the weaker vessel, etc, etc.
But the bottom line is that for women to run for office is not just to go against the clear Word of God (because God's rules for civil office are almost identical to his rules for pastoral office), but it is to resist the way God has made them. I know this is controversial in the 21rst Century, but it is a word that needs to be said. And people say, "Well what about Deborah?" Let me tell you something: Deborah was never a civil magistrate – she was a prophetess who brought God's Word of judgments. That is the only sense in which she was a judge. But the text is very clear that Barak recruited the army, headed the army, and fought with the army – not Deborah. The text is very clear that Barak was the civil judge over all Israel throughout Deborah's life, and she continued to be a prophetess bringing God's prophetic judgments. She was not a civil magistrate. She was a prophetic judge.
We need magistrates who are willing to fight (yes, even to the death) to defend the unborn. We need magistrates who have the guts to implement Biblical penalties against sodomites, witches, and treasonous magistrates who are deliberately trying to overthrow the constitution. Treason no longer means anything to many people. But David spoke this Psalm against the nice, get-along magistrates of Saul's day who refused to interpose themselves between the treasonous Saul and the people.
And to those of you who have a hard time relating to what I have just said in the civil realm, let me give you some food that maybe you can swallow – because not all of you are men, right? But let me give you two reasons why all of us can rejoice when we at least see God's judgments, even if we are not the ones bringing those judgments.
First of all, rejoice because this Psalm proves that you have a righteous God. Think about that for a moment. The fact that God uncompromisingly hates sin and will by no means clear the guilty is a great cause for rejoicing. Can you imagine what would happen if God were not holy? What a fearful thing it would be to face eternity! If he were not immutably holy and hateful of sin, what would happen if He became a sinner? Our whole future could be at jeopardy. We would have no assurance that He would deal with us in holy ways in the future. Without holiness, perhaps in the future He might punish holiness and reward iniquity. We would have no assurance that He would keep us from sinning in heaven. Without holiness God could be a liar who wrote the Bible just to play with our minds and to give us a sadistic disappointment when we die. All would be uncertainty and fear if God were not the righteous God who punishes sin uncompromisingly. Our safety throughout eternity rests in the fact that God hates sin this much. By the way, that's the reason why the book of Revelation has the saints rejoicing over hell. Read the book of Revelation sometime and you will see that. I can't rejoice in hell because I'm still a sinner. But when we get to heaven we will see sin just as God sees it and see His justice just as He sees it, and we will rejoice over God's judgments.
A second reason to rejoice is that if you rejoice in the cross, you are indeed already rejoicing in precisely this judgment. Think about that: Without the need for such judgments the cross is a sham and worse than a sham. Why would God put His Son through all that suffering if hell were not necessary? When Dietrich Boenhoffer preached on this Psalm and called upon God to judge the Nazis, he said, "Whoever shrinks from this joy in the vengeance of God and in the blood of the wicked does not yet know what took place on the cross of Christ." And I think he is right. When we rejoice in our salvation, we are rejoicing in the fact that Christ was willing to undergo the curses of death and worse still, separation from God. Our salvation is predicated upon the doctrine of judgment.
Now, in conclusion, let me say that God's unwillingness to be silent about sin or inactive about sin should cause us to be unwilling to be silent or passive either. We need to do something to try to stop abortion, communism, and other filthy evils. Lend out the video, Agenda. Lend out videos on prolife issues. Give out tracts on economics. Likewise, we need to speak to magistrates and convince them that they need to protect America from domestic enemies, just as they have vowed to do. Right now these are the greatest enemies. They are far more dangerous enemies than those in Iraq. Let's impeach the enemies in office.
Secondly, we are coming to a point of crisis similar to what Israel experienced in 1Samuel 25. Things are getting to a place where the church should no longer tolerate guilty silence. We need to vote silent magistrates out of office based on the authority of verse 1. This Psalm should be used in prayer against any magistrate who continues to be silent about the God-hating agendas of the 21rst Century. So vote them out or pray them out.
God can turn things around just like He did for David if we will take up such spiritually powerful weapons upon our lips. And if we do so, there will be two results. One result might be God's immediate judgment of some Sauls. But a second result might be the turning of the hearts of magistrates just like they turned in the next year for David. By the time we get to chapter 27, numerous magistrates were secretly siding with David, heading up an underground government (just like German officers did to resist Hitler), supplying David, and strategizing to make David king. There was a turnaround in the nation because the nation began praying Psalm 58 and because magistrates started repenting of the guilty silence that Psalm 58 speaks against. We can pray that the same would happen today. May it be so, Lord Jesus. Amen.
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!(./1Samuel 25_1 with Ps 58/media/image2.jpeg)!(./1Samuel 25_1 with Ps 58/media/image3.jpeg)!(./1Samuel 25_1 with Ps 58/media/image4.jpeg)!(./1Samuel 25_1 with Ps 58/media/image5.jpeg)!(./1Samuel 25_1 with Ps 58/media/image6.jpeg)Guilty Silence