O LORD God, to whom vengeance belongeth; O God, to whom vengeance belongeth, shew thyself. (Psalms 94:1)
Psalm 94 is an exasperating cry for God to bring vengeance on Israel’s enemies. Many people do not realize such psalms exist because they believe God is never upset with anyone and walks around all day with a flower behind His ear blowing kisses. How far from the truth are these misguided souls!
A few days ago, I was interviewed by a very nice Sonoma State student who was doing a research paper on Christian funerary practices. She asked me what a funeral service was like in a Baptist church and what kinds of things we did and what things I say when trying to comfort grieving friends and relatives. Of course, I told her it was important to be sympathetic, compassionate, and diplomatic. The last of those required a little explanation because of a very sensitive topic that needs to be discussed at the time of death. I did not want to shock her and seem uncaring, but I explained the death of a loved one is one of the best times to talk about the awful consequences of dying without Christ as Saviour. I told her I felt it a necessary duty to warn people about God’s wrath because some that attend funeral services have never heard a gospel message. I feel a responsibility to warn people that although God wants people to go to heaven He will not tolerate their sin and rejection of Christ. When we preach this way, we are following the example of Jesus who also found it necessary to speak of hell and judgment.
I think too many Christians are apologetic for God. They want to leave out His anger and pretend He turns a blind eye to evil. You cannot read Psalm 94 and come close to that conclusion. The psalmist is sure that even though God delays judgment, it will never be escaped. Further, he expects it and desires it to happen. You might have a little trouble reconciling such feelings with the love and compassion taught by Jesus, but nonetheless, both aspects of God’s character are true. Jesus preached both as true.
The first verse opens with the word vengeance. Vengeance belongs to God. He will not let the wicked escape. Sooner or later, God will say “enough” and at His divinely appointed time, He will issue the order and court will be in session. This is what I tried to impress upon this young lady. All of us will meet God at some time, and I am remiss if I do not discharge my duty to grieving mourners to warn that we must answer to Him.
The other piece is why the psalmist expected it. It is a personal thing. There is payback for all we go through. It seems like a strange reward but we learn to appreciate justice as much as God does. He never lets us pursue personal vengeance, but He promises justice will be satisfied. “Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”
Pastor V. Mark Smith