TODAY’S READING: PSALM 1-8
According to the King James Version, Psalm 7:11 says, “God judgeth the righteous, And God is angry with the wicked every day.”
Is this true? Is this right? Is this what the verse really says?
The short answer is no.
But, let’s go through the longer answer.
First, we should note that “with the wicked” is not in the original Hebrew. Any times you see words in italics that means the translators inserted them even though they weren’t in the original language. So, according to the KJV translators, the verse says, “And God is angry every day.”
Second, even removing the added words doesn’t get the translation correct. Let’s look at some other translations, focusing on the second part of the verse.
- “and God who feels indignation every day.” – ESV
- “And a God who has indignation every day.” – NASB
- “a God who displays his wrath every day.” – NIV
- “He is angry with the wicked every day.” – NLT
- “he is angry throughout the day.” – NET Bible
- “and always condemns the wicked.” – Good News Translation (that’s some good news by the way)
- “And He is not angry at all times.” – Young’s Literal Translation
- “is he angry every day?” – Douay-Rheims Bible
- “not bringing wrath every single day.” – Lexham English Septuagint
That’s quite a contrast within these translations. And, two of them – Young’s and LES – say exactly the opposite of what the KJV says.
So, what’s going on here?
The problem is the word generally translated angry or indignation in this verse. The Hebrew word is za’am, which literally means to curse or to scold. It can also mean to be angry or indignant or to express wrath.
So, how should za’am be translated?
Well, let’s look at the context of the psalm. On the surface, the psalm is about David taking refuge in God because he is being accused unjustly by his enemies. David says that if the accusations are true – that he has repaid his friend with evil among other things – then he should be trampled. But, he knows the accusations aren’t true and asks the Lord to judge him according to his righteousness. David says that if his enemies do not repent then the violence they have planned for them will come back on their own skull.
That’s what’s happening on the surface. But, what’s happening in the Spirit?
I believe this is a picture of Jesus on the cross. Verse 1 says, “O Lord my God, in you do I take refuge.”
Where did Jesus take refuge in God?
On the cross. Listen to what Jesus says from the cross in Luke 23:46. “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” That sounds like Jesus taking refuge in God.
Then Jesus asks that he be saved from his pursuers “lest like a lion they tear my soul apart.” Where would Jesus be under threat of being torn apart as if by a lion? I would suggest on the cross.
Finally, the psalm has Jesus say that the mischief of the man who will not repent “on his own skull his violence descends.” (verse 16)
Where was Jesus crucified?
Golgotha, which means the place of the skull. When Jesus was killed on the cross at Golgotha it was as if the cross was being driven into our own skulls.
So, the whole psalm pictures Jesus on the cross.
So, how should we read verse 11, which says, “God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day?”
Well, the word za’am is a participle in this sentence. That just means that it is a verb acting as an adjective. And, remember one of the meanings of za’am is to curse.
Was Jesus not made a curse for us on the cross?
Galatians 3:13-14 says, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us – for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree’ – so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.”
So, given the context of the psalm, that Jesus was made a curse for us, and that za’am means to curse and should be translated as an adjective – cursed – describing God, I believe that verse 11 should be translated something like:
“God is a righteous judge, a cursed God every day.”
Remember, Jesus was the lamb slain from the foundation of the world. He has always been hanged on the tree – cursed – for us. But, this is precisely what makes Jesus and the Father righteous judges. They know what it is to be cursed, and by their own creation. Jesus knows how the poor, the blind, the sick, the lame, etc. are cursed in this world. Therefore, can put things right, or judge righteously.
Jesus knows because he became like us. Hebrews 2:14-15 says, “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.”
Further evidence of this is that Jesus tells us to bless our enemies and not curse them. Therefore, the verse cannot possibly be saying that God is angry or cursing or expressing wrath every day.