We give thanks to You, O God; we give thanks, for Your name is near. We recount Your wondrous deeds.
“At the set time that I appoint I will judge with equity.
When the earth totters, and all its inhabitants, it is I who keep steady its pillars.
I say to the boastful, ‘Do not boast,’ and to the wicked, ‘Do not lift up your horn;
do not lift up your horn on high, or speak with haughty neck.'”
For not from the east or from the west and not from the wilderness comes lifting up,
but it is God who executes judgement, putting down one and lifting up another.
For in the hand of Yahweh there is a cup with foaming wine, well mixed, and He pours out from it, and all the wicked of the earth shall drain it down to the dregs.
But I will declare it forever; I will sing praises to the God of Jacob.
All the horns of the wicked I will cut off, but the horns of the righteous shall be lifted up.
There is much talk of “justice” in our culture, specifically “social justice.” The irony of today’s “social justice” is that there is no justice in it at all. Justice for one person means suffering for another. For example, social justice warriors call for gender equity in the bathrooms, but at the cost of women feeling uncomfortable with having men in the bathroom due to pedophiles and women abusers who take full advantage of it, not to mention the grossness of men believing the delusion that they’re women.
There’s also the “right” to gay marriage, but at the expense of Christian bakers who refuse to bake cakes for their weddings so as not to offend God as well as their religious conscience. Meanwhile, they leave Muslim bakers alone.
Only God can judge with true equity. Even our own justice system is flawed. Murderers and rapists go free; the innocent are judged guilty. For all our talk about justice, we don’t do justice very well at all. We’re extraordinarily bad at it.
In this psalm, God promises He will judge with equity “at the set time” He appoints (v. 2). This has a dual meaning, I believe. The first is when Christ first came in order to save sinners. “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:4-5). At this proper time, God the Father sent God the Son to judge with equity—to judge all those who would believe in Christ to be innocent by faith according to Jesus’ perfect obedience, which is offered to all people regardless of gender, race, and social status (Galatians 3:28).
The second meaning, of course, is eschatological—that at the proper time, God will send Jesus both to save and to damn. He will come again to harvest the earth—to reap the elect to eternal life (Revelation 14:14-16) and to reap the unbelievers to eternal death (14:17-20).
The psalmist, Asaph, describes this judgement as God pouring His cup of wine upon the wicked, the wicked drinking it to the fullest (v. 8). The wicked, then, will get drunk on God’s wrath. A drunk person does not know what he’s doing; thus, the wicked do not even know they are undergoing God’s wrath because they are drunk on it. It is no surprise, then, that the wicked do not consider abortion, euthanasia, and all kinds of sexual immoralities to be sin and evil, for they are drunk on God’s wrath and cannot judge rightly. As Paul says, “And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done” (Romans 1:28). Only God’s judgement is truly just. He raises and He lowers—He saves and He destroys justly (v. 10).
A “horn” was a symbol for strength in Israel, which Asaph says not to lift up. “Do not lift up your strength” is another way of saying “do not become prideful in your own strength.” This is just what the wicked do. They have dedicated the entire month of June to their horn—their pride. Yet God is in full control; He will judge between horns. The strength of the wicked He shall cut off; the strength of the righteous He shall lift up (v. 10). The pregnant Mary praises God for this justice of His in her famous Magnificat, “He has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate” (Luke 1:52).
For we who believe in Christ, our horn shall be lifted up, since Christ is our strength; for as Christ was lifted upon the cross and rose from the grave and ascended into Heaven, so we are promised a resurrection like His and we, too, shall rise up as Christ has risen (Romans 6:1-5).
“But they who wait for Yahweh shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles” (Isaiah 40:31).