What About the God of Vengeance? | Psalm 94
Worshiping God means worshiping him for who he really is. Our lives become more anchored horizontally when we anchor them vertically to the true God. Worshiping God in Spirit and truth, as Jesus puts it in https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John%204%3A23-24&version=NIV (John 4:23-24). But if you read through the Psalms, you’ll soon run into Psalms like Psalm 94 that talk about God being a “God of vengeance.” We relatively comfortable moderns have a particularly hard time with this view of God. How could God be loving and be a God of vengeance? But most Christians in the world throughout history would have the opposite problem: “How could God be loving and not judge all this evil?”
In her excellent book, https://www.amazon.com/Confronting-Christianity-audiobook/dp/B081S7C287/ref=sr_1_2?crid=CEEKTDPODASX&dchild=1&keywords=confronting+christianity+by+rebecca+mclaughlin&qid=1619019028&sprefix=confronting+Christianity%2Caps%2C186&sr=8-2 (Confronting Christianity), https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/profile/rebecca-mclaughlin/ (Rebecca McLaughlin) writes:
“The idea of the wrath of God seems alien to us—a psychologically damaging relic from a bygone era. But just as we cannot absolve people of moral accountability without also erasing their ability to love, so God’s love and God’s judgment cannot be pulled apart. Think of the anger you feel when you see school children shot, women raped, or people beaten because of the color of their skin. Think of your anger at the slave trade, the Holocaust, and global sex trafficking. When you analyze that anger, its root is love. ...And the more we love, the more easily our anger is kindled. We rush to defend our children from the least attack because we love them: anyone who harms them inspires our fury. ...Imagine that this kind of love-motivated anger is so deeply entrenched in the heart of God that your own commitment to justice is like a drop in the ocean.”
But this Psalm turns it back on ourselves and helps us see God’s grace in our lives to transform us out of evil into his blessing.
Psalm 94 ESV
1 O LORD, God of vengeance, O God of vengeance, shine forth!
2 Rise up, O judge of the earth; repay to the proud what they deserve!
3 O LORD, how long shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked exult?
4 They pour out their arrogant words; all the evildoers boast.
5 They crush your people, O LORD, and afflict your heritage.
6 They kill the widow and the sojourner, and murder the fatherless;
7 and they say, “The LORD does not see; the God of Jacob does not perceive.”
8 Understand, O dullest of the people! Fools, when will you be wise?
9 He who planted the ear, does he not hear? He who formed the eye, does he not see?
10 He who disciplines the nations, does he not rebuke? He who teaches man knowledge—
11 the LORD—knows the thoughts of man, that they are but a breath.
12 Blessed is the man whom you discipline, O LORD, and whom you teach out of your law,
13 to give him rest from days of trouble, until a pit is dug for the wicked.
14 For the LORD will not forsake his people; he will not abandon his heritage;
15 for justice will return to the righteous, and all the upright in heart will follow it.
16 Who rises up for me against the wicked? Who stands up for me against evildoers?
17 If the LORD had not been my help, my soul would soon have lived in the land of silence.
18 When I thought, “My foot slips,” your steadfast love, O LORD, held me up.
19 When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.
20 Can wicked rulers be allied with you, those who frame injustice by statute?
21 They band together against the life of the righteous and condemn the innocent to death.
22 But the LORD has become my stronghold, and my God the rock of my refuge.
23 He will bring back on them their iniquity and wipe...