Hello everybody and welcome in to episode #280 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading Psalm 101 today and our focus is on What The Bible Teaches About Government, Law Enforcement and Justice. + Delays in Answered Prayer, and How We Deal With Them. We are a daily 10 minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new listeners in Our goal is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast! Don’t forget about our web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more– Click here for our Bible 2021 reading plan\
Strange topic today for a Psalm, I know, but before we dive into our main topic, let’s address a not at all strange topic for a Psalm. Notice the first two verses:
1 I will sing of faithful love and justice;
I will sing praise to you, Lord.
2 I will pay attention to the way of integrity.
When will you come to me? Psalm 101:1-2
As we have said multiple times, the Bible does not give us an unrealistic view of how things work spiritually. Hallmark cards, best-selling, but fluffy Christian books, and preachers who like to tickle ears give a warped and distorted view of following God all too often, but I don’t find such things in the Bible. Instead, we get statements like we see in vs. 2 – God, I am worshipping you, singing to you, proclaiming your faithful love and justice….I am following your commands and living a life of integrity. I am seeking you…but WHERE ARE YOU??! How many times have we been in situations like this? Desperate to hear from God – worshipping Him, obeying Him, pursuing Him in faith, and wondering where He is and why His answer tarries? To be clear, sometimes God answers our prayers just like He answered Elijah’s prayer for fire on Mt. Carmel – suddenly, immediately and spectacularly….and sometimes His answers are delayed, such as in this passage, and sometimes His answers are quite different from what we are asking – such as when Jesus prayed to have the cup taken from Him in the Garden of Gethsemane. God usually does not answer our prayers immediately, does He? He sometimes answers them quite differently than what we have asked, and sometimes the answer is “no,” and this reality is EXACTLY what we would expect from reading about the experiences of God’s people in the Bible. If He hasn’t answered you yet – KEEP PRAYING and live with a heart of integrity. You are NOT alone. God’s timetable is not ours – with Him a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like a day.
And what does King David do in this Psalm while he is waiting for God to answer his prayer?? Apparently, he is seeking to do what pleases God while he waits to hear from God. Is this some sort of bribery scheme by David? I don’t know, and I doubt it, because there doesn’t seem to be that feeling here, but I imagine that it is a particularly good thing to live a God-pleasing life while we are desperately seeking God, right? And what God-pleasing thing does David do while he waits? Well, interestingly enough, he pursues wrongdoers and executes justice in his kingdom. Yes – that is one of the roles of the king – the executive branch – in God’s kingdom of Israel – the king oversaw the dispensing of justice, as we see pointed out in passages like Proverbs 29:4
The king gives stability to the land by justice,
But a man who takes bribes overthrows it.
(as the queen of Sheba says about Solomon): 8 Blessed be the Lord your God! He delighted in you and put you on his throne as king for the Lord your God. Because your God loved Israel enough to establish them forever, he has set you over them as king to carry out justice and righteousness.” 2nd Chronicles 9:8
We see this when King Solomon asked for wisdom from God, rather than riches and power, and God saw that request for wisdom tied in closely to justice in 1 Kings 3:
10 Now it pleased the Lord that Solomon had requested this. 11 So God said to him, “Because you have requested this and did not ask for long life or riches for yourself, or the death of your enemies, but you asked discernment for yourself to administer justice, 12 I will therefore do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and understanding heart, so that there has never been anyone like you before and never will be again. 1 Kings 3:10-12
even the Jesus, the King above all Kings, will establish justice and righteousness. He will punish evil, and protect and uphold the righteous.
The dominion will be vast, and its prosperity will never end. He will reign on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish and sustain it with justice and righteousness from now on and forever. The zeal of the Lord of Armies will accomplish this. Isaiah 9:7
And yes, punishing evil is quite in line with what the King – as the leader of the government is supposed to do – this pleases God, as David notes in today’s Psalm:
7 No one who acts deceitfully
will live in my palace;
the one who tells lies
will not be retained here to guide me.
8 Every morning I will destroy
all the wicked of the land,
wiping out all evildoers from the Lord’s city. Psalm 101:7-8
This may seem somewhat stark to us, because many of us see God as primarily a God of mercy. And yes, He does abound in lovingkindness and shows mercy to a thousand generations, and yet:
The Lord—the Lord is a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and abounding in faithful love and truth, 7 maintaining faithful love to a thousand generations, forgiving iniquity, rebellion, and sin. But he will not leave the guilty unpunished, bringing the consequences of the fathers’ iniquity on the children and grandchildren to the third and fourth generation. Exodus 34:6-7
Yes, God delights in justice AND mercy. But what does that have to do today? Most of us listening are not under the judicial authority of the king, so what does the New Testament say about justice, government and law enforcement. Surely the New Testament, being centered on Jesus, would call for governments to be more merciful, right? Actually, that does not appear to be the case. Christians are called to forgive and show mercy in the New Testament – repeated forgiveness – over and over again- 70 times 7 times, says Jesus…but governments? That is different. Consider what Paul says in Romans 13:
2 So then, the one who resists the authority is opposing God’s command, and those who oppose it will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Do you want to be unafraid of the one in authority? Do what is good, and you will have its approval. 4 For it is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, because it does not carry the sword for no reason. For it is God’s servant, an avenger that brings wrath on the one who does wrong. Romans 13:2-4
This is a much debated and discussed passage in Christian ethics, but it obviously gives a warrant, of sorts, to governments to punish wrongdoing and it calls people to do good and not break laws. We could get into a lot of nuance here, but, quite clearly, Romans 13 not only allows and legitimizes law enforcement and the judicial and governmental punishment of those who do evil, but it actively calls for justice as a good thing. Does this passage allow for capital punishment? Again that is a much debated topic, but I would certainly say it allows for capital punishment (the government “does not carry the sword for no reason.”) but it does not necessarily MANDATE it in every situation.
One more passage. on the duty of governments to punish wrongdoing. We’ve talked before about a Christian’s call to submit to the government out of 1 Peter 2, but this time, pay attention to the DUTY of government in this passage:
13 Submit to every human authority because of the Lord, whether to the emperor as the supreme authority 14 or to governors as those sent out by him to punish those who do what is evil and to praise those who do what is good. 1 Peter 2:13-14
So – governors and their governments – this should probably be read as elected officials by us- have as part of their duty to punish those who do what is evil and to praise those who do what is good. BOTH of those things should be done by a God-pleasing government. Wherever we are, let’s make it out prayer that God would renew our government’s vigor and focus on those two God-pleasing tasks: punishing those who do evil and praising those who do God – this pleases God; justice pleases God! Let’s read our full passage.
Bible Memory passage for the month of October: 7 Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:7-8
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