Have you ever wondered why the writers of the Psalms so often call for judgment on their enemies? Have you ever wondered why the Lord said that persons “will come from east and west, and from north and south, and shall lie down at table in the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:29) and yet Paul said “the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17)?
The answer lies in the timing, in the different periods of God’s dealings with mankind.
At this time, the kingdom of God experienced in truth, involves moral features such as are described above in Romans. In a future period, the reign of Christ over the earth for a thousand years, it will involve the public and universal blessing of the earth, with Jerusalem as its “centre”. The scripture in 1 Kings 4:20 gives a type or foretaste of that period, when under the rule of Solomon “Judah and Israel were many, as the sand of the sea in multitude, eating and drinking and making merry”. The kingdom will mean for Israel material blessings in a world ordered by a rule of righteousness, when the Lord shall shepherd the nations with an iron rod – see Psalm 2:9, and Revelation 2:27,
When we turn to the Psalms we find a wonderful collection of experiences, feelings, sorrows, repentance, hopes and praise - written by godly persons and inspired by the Holy Spirit. They - as all scripture - have been written for our instruction, but the language is suited fully to the faithful remnant of the Jewish nation when they go through the sorrows that are about to befall them – the time of Jacob’s trouble. In our day, we are instructed to pray for our enemies, to “overcome evil with good”. We have the power of the Holy Spirit indwelling and the example of the life of Christ.
Israel’s blessings were earthly, and will be when they are again taken up by God as a nation. The possession of the land of Canaan and material prosperity for them was an outward sign of the favour of God. If they obeyed God, he promised them health and prosperity in the land. As their blessings are on the earth, then to enjoy it, all their enemies must be subjugated and evil put down. So that the cries for judgment on their enemies were appropriate for that people at the time and will be again, just prior to the coming reign of their Messiah. The scriptures quoted above - Psalm 2 and Revelation 2 - along with many others, show that this coming period, the day of Jesus Christ, will not be a reign of grace as now. In our time judgment is held back, while God waits for persons to repent. Our blessings are linked with Christ in glory. We are promised nothing here other than “having sustenance and covering, we will be content with these”- 1 Timothy 6:8. We can profit greatly from the Psalms, but we have to recognize that not every verse is language suited to the church. The Psalms are often concerned with God’s righteous government on the earth.
The experiences and utterances in the Psalms have a prophetic or typical character. For example, David’s rejection and pursuit (with murderous intent by the wicked,) were experienced by the Lord. This will also be the experience of the faithful remnant of the Jews. They will pass through the furnace of affliction in the tribulation until they finally repent and acknowledge Him whom they pierced. It is in this period that I believe that many of the Psalms will have full and direct application. Meanwhile, with the Lord’s help, we can benefit profoundly from them.
MM March 2002