When Judgment Comes (Psalm 91:7-8)
A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. 8 You will only look with your eyes and see the recompense of the wicked. —Psalm 91:7-8
God has given us an imagination to help us feel truth. Verses 7–8 of Psalm 91 continue the same theme as did last week: the Messiah (and we in him) are secure with the LORD as our refuge. We don’t have to fear. But the verses this week take us deeper into this reality. The psalmist gives us a picture to make the wonder of God’s protection sink in a little more.
A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand. You are in battle. There’s a open field jammed full of soldiers (recall the battle scenes in The Chronicles of Narnia). There are so many soldiers it’s hard to distinguish your comrades from the enemy. It is pandimonium. Swords are flying and men are dropping right and left. The noise is almost unbearable as vicious yells are mixed with the clanking of armor. Panic has set in for most. Fear has gripped the souls of men. But there you are, in the midst of this all, navigating your steps as clear-headed as ever. Things are like slow-motion to you. You see the destruction, a thousand fallen at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, and you are still standing. The dust begins to settle. As quickly as the battle began, now silence set in across the field where bodies lay in droves. Unscathed, you gaze among the fallen, you see the recompense of the wicked.
This is precisely the scene that the psalmist describes in Psalm 91:7–8. He’s not talking about a game of dodgeball. This is war and people will die. And so it is in real life. As we go about our day we will never not encounter people with eternal destinies—people who will face the righteous judgment of a holy God. And there are two things to say about this in closing.
First, praise God for the riches of his glory (Romans 9:22–24). We should be among the fallen. We should face God’s judgment (Ephesians 2:1–3). But God has shown us mercy. God has saved us, neither because of our works nor anything inherent to ourselves. We know how much we don’t deserve it and we’re humbled. We know we have escaped a destruction we do deserve and we’re in awe. Praise God for his mercy.
Second, we have a rescue mission. People around us are going to fall. Our colleagues, our neighbors, our family—they are set to face God’s judgment. And we shouldn’t hog the refuge. Tell them like Evangelist told Christian, “Fly from the wrath to come.” Tell them about Jesus. Tell them the good news about how God became a man like us in order to save all who embrace him by faith. Tell them to embrace him.
How are you free from God’s judgment?
How can your imagination make the truth of God’s protection sink in more?
How might Psalm 91:7–8 propel you in love for others?