Morning Reflections is a series of brief reflections on my daily morning readings; one chapter of Pslams and one of Proverbs.
Psalm 58 and Proverbs 28
Psalm 58 begins with a hypothetical question about the gods of the earth. Do they decree what is right? Do they judge the children of man uprightly? The response is immediate; No. The Psalm then continues with indictments against the wicked and prayers to capital “G” God, the true God, to frustrate, destroy, and ultimately bring the enemy to nothing. In the final two verses the Psalmist anticipates the coming victory and judgment of the wicked when the true God who actually does decree what is right and actually does judge the children of man uprightly comes to do, well, just that.
Verse 10 is what grabbed my attention. “The righteous will rejoice when he sees the vengeance; he will bathe his feet in the blood of the wicked.”
Seems a bit gratuitous, don’t you think? Bathing in someone else’s blood? We don’t often think in these categories, but not only does the Psalmist seem quite comfortable with this idea, we have to own the fact that those words were inspired!
How can we bring ourselves into agreement with the seeming violence of the psalm? How can we join the psalmist rather than judge him in his bloody foot bathing? How can this be right?
The key is to recognize that if God indeed is the judge, then the judgment is indeed just, and the execution is righteous. Whatever his judgment, it cannot be other than a righteous, pure, and perfect judgment. If it were not so, he would no longer be capital “G” God, but just another little “g” god among the rest whom the psalmist dismisses two verses in.
The temptation of Psalm 58:10 is to appraise the judgments of God. In contrast, it calls us to bathe our feet with the psalmist. In reality, what else can we do? Though there be blood in the streets, if it is of the Lord, we say Amen. His judgments cannot be anything but wisdom in action, holiness on display, justice executed to perfection. Whoever acts otherwise simply cannot be God.
Perhaps this is exactly why Proverbs 28:5 says “Evil men do not understand justice, but those who seek the LORD understand it completely.” God simply will not play nicely with any notion of justice erected outside of himself; the very notion of justice is bound up in the person-hood of God.