Psalm 7:11 | The Perfect Judge
DAVID GOFF | June 17, 2020
God is a just judge,
And God is angry with the wicked every day.
The case of Clarence Gideon began during the summer of 1961 with his arrest in Panama City, Florida. That summer, Gideon was charged with breaking and entering a pool hall, damaging property, and petty theft. The case hinged solely upon the testimony of a single witness who falsely accused Gideon of leaving the poolroom the morning after with the missing items.
At the trial, Gideon, unable to afford a lawyer, requested that an attorney be provided to represent him. The judge told him that Florida only provided attorneys for more serious capital offenses. Although Gideon tried his best to defend his innocence - he ultimately was sentenced to 5 years in prison. Gideon felt the heavy weight of injustice press on him - first by false accusation and secondly by a court system that let him down.
Yet, that wasn’t the final word. Gideon’s case ultimately went before the U.S. Supreme Court in a case known as Gideon v. Wainwright. The unanimous verdict confirmed the right of defendants in criminal proceedings to have counsel appointed during the trial, even if they can’t afford one. As a result, Gideon was able to get a retrial with counsel at the government’s expense. In the retrial, Gideon was acquitted based upon convincing testimony from a new witness that discredited the original charge. Gideon was exonerated!
You might be surprised to find out that the Bible addresses the topic of injustice. In fact, David himself experienced the injustice of false accusations. Yet, he put his trust in the Lord, the perfect judge, providing us two truths to consider:
The world’s justice falls short
In a world that is groaning from the effects of sin, it is no wonder that we find many instances of injustice. The title of Psalm 7 indicates that Cush - a Benjamite, was a wicked accuser and enemy of David who falsely charged him with a crime. David’s enemies began by persecuting him and then threatened violence.
David felt the danger to his life and asked for deliverance, “lest they tear me like a lion, rending me in pieces, while there is none to deliver” (Psalm 7:2). The image of a lion tearing a sheep into pieces is a picture David recalled from his childhood. It accurately described the danger & the toll that false accusations were taking on him.
David’s words make clear that he was willing to endure this persecution if there was iniquity in his hands. If I “have plundered my enemy without cause, let the enemy pursue me and overtake me” (Psalm 7:4b). But David was innocent and undeserving of his enemies’ falsehoods and schemes.
Have you ever felt the heavy weight of injustice, especially false accusations like David? It can lead to hopelessness. The Bible tells us that God originally created a world where everything worked perfectly. When sin entered the world - so did injustice. God hates injustice in all of its forms. Proverbs 17:15 says that God hates those who condone the wicked or condemn the godly. In other words, we need to show justice in our dealings and treat others with impartiality if we are to please God.
John Piper said this:
“When we use false balances or lie on our tax returns or misrepresent the facts in our dealings, we are declaring that the fleeting sweetness of sin is more to be desired than the everlasting peace of God.”
This should serve as a reminder that although we live in a world where justice falls short - we are called to act in a way that reflects the justice of the Lord, the perfect judge.
After considering the injustice in our current world, you might be wondering, is there any hope for justice?
The Lord’s justice is perfect
In contrast with the imperfect justice of the world, David announces that “God is a just judge” (Psalm 7:11a). By this statement, we can be assured that all of God’s rulings are perfect.
Notice in verse 9, where the Psalmist David shows that the “righteous God tests the hearts and minds.” As the Lord’s justice is demonstrated - it is with perfect knowledge of the facts.
J.I. Packer explains the Lord’s knowledge this way:
“When the Bible pictures God judging, it emphasizes His omniscience and wisdom as the searcher of hearts and the finder of facts. Nothing can escape him; we may fool men, but we cannot fool God. He knows us, and judges us as we really are.”
The second half of verse 11, continues by showing God’s justice through the punishment of the wicked. Psalm 7:12 says for those who do not repent of their wickedness, “He bends His bow and makes it ready.” In other words, the wicked will not stand in the final judgment. The Lord will deliver perfect justice to them.
The reality of the Lord’s justice was what sustained and delivered David from this persecution and injustice. He knew he had an all-knowing defender watching over him. It led him to praise the Lord and to “sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High” (Psalm 7:17).
When we experience injustice, it can cause significant pain, harm our reputation, and lead to hopelessness. But there is hope when we put our trust in the Lord - the perfect judge. He can empower us to reflect justice today and the promise of perfect justice in His coming kingdom.
David Goff is the Associate Pastor of First Baptist Church, Washington MI