The Joy of Judgment

But the king shall rejoice in God; all who swear by him shall exult, for the mouths of liars will be stopped (Ps 63:11).

Judgment is a nasty word today. It’s taboo. The only sentence it is allowed in is one that begins with, “You shall not.” Even for many Christians, it’s not a comforting word. It’s a word that evokes fear, and in a sense, rightly so (see 2 Cor 5:10-11).

But judgment should also bring joy. In fact our soul’s thirst for God—our longing to know him as our greatest delight—is increased as we are able to exult in his judgments. To praise God for his salvation is to simultaneously praise him for his judgments. We tend to forget that latter part. Salvation is not only God’s work that delivers us from his righteous wrath, but a work that delivers us from evil men.

The destruction of Babylon (Rev 18), the city that symbolizes the corrupt world, is an event that causes the saints to rejoice because “in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints, and of all who have been slain on earth” (Rev 18:24). When God judges the world, it is an answer to the prayers of God’s people who cried out, “How long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth” (Rev 6:11)?

Judgment brings joy because it is an answer to prayer in favor of the righteous. Who are the righteous? Those who “have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Rev 7:14) and have conquered the serpent “by [his blood] and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death” (Rev 12:11). They are those who have received the righteousness of God “through faith in Jesus Christ” (Rom 3:22). They are God’s new creations who, having been set free from sin, walk in good works (Eph 2:10). They have cast off the old man that was corrupt by deceitful desires and have clothed themselves with the new, “created after the likeness of God” (Eph 4:24). That is why they are righteous. They swear allegiance to God’s King, living as his representatives in a kingdom ruled by “the father of lies” (Jn 8:44) as they await its end, and the beginning of an eternal kingdom of righteousness.

In Psalm 63, David says that he seeks “earnestly” for God (v. 1). His soul thirsts for God like one who thirsts for water in a wilderness (v. 1). God is David’s greatest delight. He rejoices in God. He finds the steadfast love of God to be better than life itself (v. 3). And as we continue to read the psalm, we find that David’s joy in God is due to his confidence that God will deliver him from his enemies. The friend of the wicked will be the grave (v. 9). But the king and all who swear by him shall exult—their happiness will express itself in song—because “the mouths of liars will be stopped” (v. 11). Judgment will come, and it will not be because of the ingenuity or strength of the people of God, but because of the power of God himself (v. 8, 11).

The Christian’s joy in God increases as he swears by King Jesus and looks forward to the day when “the mouths of liars will be stopped.” This is never some sadistic delight in destruction, but faith in the promises of God that the corruption of this present world is not eternal. When we pray, “Come, Lord Jesus,” we are confidently anticipating the arrival of the King who never errs in judgment, never awards the wicked, never oppresses the lowly, and always satisfies the thirsty soul.

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