TODAY’S READING: PSALMS 89-94
There are two ways to deal with your enemy. The first way is to destroy them. The second way is to transform them.
We seem to see the method of destroying your enemy in Psalm 94. In verse 1, the psalmist cries out to the Lord, the God of vengeance. In verse 2, the psalmist says that it is time for God to judge the proud and repay them with what they deserve. In verse 3, the psalmist asks how long are the wicked going to exult or triumph.
But, by the end of the psalm, the psalmist declares his confidence that God will destroy his enemies. Verse 23 says, “He will bring back on them their iniquity and wipe them out for their wickedness; the Lord our God will wipe them out.” The Hebrew word translated “wipe out” can also mean destroy or exterminate.
Mankind could only conceive dealing with his enemies the way mankind deals with his enemies. You had to destroy, completely wipe out, your enemy if you never wanted to deal with them again. The more viciously and violently you destroyed with your enemy, the fewer enemies you would have in the future because of the fear you would have instilled them.
So, when God said to Israel that he would deal with their enemies, they understood it to mean that God would destroy them.
But, Jesus changed every notion of how God deals with his enemies. Jesus literally turned our understanding upside down.
1 Corinthians 1:22-25 says, “For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”
Jesus showed that God dealt with enemies through the cross. To mankind, the cross is foolishness and weakness. To God, the cross is wisdom and strength. The same two wood beams viewed from two different angles have two completely different meanings.
If God wanted to destroy his enemies, then he would have put his enemies on the cross. But, God’s plan was never to destroy his enemies.
God’s plan was always to transform his enemies. Therefore, instead of putting his enemies on the cross, God put himself on the cross.
Romans 5:10, Ephesians 2:1-2, and Colossians 1:21 say that all men were God’s enemies. But, Romans 12:2 says that we are not to be conformed to this world but to be transformed by the renewing of our mind. To be conformed to the world is to destroy your enemies. According to the world, you take vengeance on your enemies, you get even with them, you destroy them. But, through the cross we are transformed. According to Christ, you love your enemies, you repay their evil with good, you transform your enemies.
But, in a way, to transform your enemy is to destroy your enemy for if you transform your enemy then they are no longer your enemy. Because the end goal is the same but the means different, it was, and still is, easy for mankind to not understand that God’s desire is to transform and not destroy.
Therefore, with the cross in view, we can read Psalm 94 and understand what God was really saying. It’s not that the psalmist was wrong. Rather, he didn’t have the proper perspective to truly understand the message that God was giving him.