Provocative Devotion: Psalm 21

Your hand will find out all your enemies;
    your right hand will find out those who hate you.
You will make them as a blazing oven
    when you appear.
The Lord will swallow them up in his wrath,
    and fire will consume them.
10 You will destroy their descendants from the earth,
    and their offspring from among the children of man.
11 Though they plan evil against you,
    though they devise mischief, they will not succeed.
12 For you will put them to flight;
    you will aim at their faces with your bows.

13 Be exalted, O Lord, in your strength!
    We will sing and praise your power. Psalm 21:8-13

We have gentled God, de-clawed Him, turned Him into the kindly cosmic grandfather in His rocking chair when so often the Bible speaks of Him as the warrior, the Lion of Judah, the victor, and conqueror. Because we have done this to God we are usually put off by passages like this that speak of God as one who brings wrath upon evil. I understand wanting to relate to a loving God into whose lap we can climb and find comfort and strength. But we cannot have that God without also having a God who is victorious over evil. How can a de-clawed God rescue the oppressed from the wicked? How can an emaciated God stand forth in power and strength over the forces of evil that seek to steal, kill, and destroy? We need words like this in order to give us the hope that one day goodness will indeed vanquish evil and that The King of Kings will rule in completeness over the earth.

But the question remains, why have we de-clawed God? Why do we only want the kindly grandfather? I suspect it is because we are not certain of God’s love in our lives and as a result we are unwilling to face the possibility that He may bring correction or reproof onto us. But the Bible is clear that a loving Father does correct his children and his children know they are loved because their father deals with behavior that is ungodly and would do themselves harm. They also know they are loved by their father because their father will do whatever is necessary to protect them from evil people who would seek to do them harm.

It is not pleasant to think of God bringing His judgement to bear on people. But it is far less pleasant to think of a world in which evil is given free-reign and God never intervenes. We need a God who is strong and upright and powerful while at the same time being loving and gentle and kind. One without the other is only half a God, which is no God at all.

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