The Purpose of God’s Judgment

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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Utterly disgrace them until they submit to your name, O LORD.

Psalm 83:16

Psalm 83 is one of those psalms we don’t know what to do with. It was written in response to the schemes of Israel’s enemies who sought to wipe out God’s people altogether. Thus this psalm calls upon God to protect Israel by defeating his enemies, destroying them (83:9-10), scattering them (83:13), terrifying them (83:15), and disgracing them (83:16).

Yet in the midst of a call for God to wipe out his enemies, Psalm 83 contains hints of redemption. Verse 16, for example, says, “Utterly disgrace them until they submit to your name, O LORD.” The Hebrew could be translated more literally, “Fill their faces with shame so that they might seek your name, O LORD.” In other words, God’s judgment is not merely punishment of Israel’s enemies or protection for God’s chosen people. Rather, it is also an occasion for those who oppose God to begin to seek him.

The glimmers of redemption in Psalm 83 become brilliant rays in Jesus Christ. He came to take upon himself God’s judgment in the cross so that all might come to know God. The shame that should fill our faces as sinners fell upon the bruised face of Jesus. I am reminded of the words of the classic hymn, “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded”:

O sacred Head, now wounded,
With grief and shame weighed down,
Now scornfully surrounded
With thorns, thine only crown;
How pale thou art with anguish,
With sore abuse and scorn!
How does that visage languish
Which once was bright as morn!
What thou, my Lord, hast suffered
Was all for sinners’ gain:
Mine, mine was the transgression,
But thine the deadly pain;
Lo, here I fall, my Savior!
’Tis I deserve thy place;
Look on me with thy favor,
Vouchsafe to me thy grace.
What language shall I borrow
To thank thee, dearest Friend,
For this thy dying sorrow,
Thy pity without end?
O make me thine forever,
And should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never
Out live my love to thee.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: How do you pray for those in your life who oppose you? How do you pray for those who oppose God’s work in the world?

PRAYER: Gracious God, how I thank you for your redemptive purpose in history and in my own life. Your judgment upon sin leads us to seek you. And when we see how Jesus bore our shame, we are drawn to you in humble gratitude.

Today I want to pray for those who oppose you. O Lord, may those who speak against you discover the folly of their words. May they be confronted with your judgment and comforted by your mercy. May they see in Jesus the perfection of love and be drawn to you. May their sorrow over the things they have said to dishonor you lead them into a profound experience of your amazing grace.

All praise be to you, God of justice and redemption. Amen.