There is a curious request in Psalm 7, which we’ve just prayed together. The psalmist asks for God’s judgment. “Judge me, O Lord.” And this request, this desire for God’s judgment, doesn’t just appear in Psalm 7. It’s repeated a number of times in the scriptures, particularly in the psalms.[i]
Being judged is a sore subject for many people, maybe for you personally. You might have faced a kind of corrosive judgment in growing up; you may live with it now. The worst kind of judgment, demeaning judgment, is not what we hear from other people, which may be terrible. The worst kind of judgment is what we hold in our own hearts against ourselves. Demeaning self judgment often takes on an internal shouting match: silently yelling at ourselves how we should be better or different or changed in some way. A proclivity to be self-judging, in a way where we always lose, not only zaps the life out of us, but also compromises our hope for the future. It’s a minefield from which there may seem little prospect of escape. And so, to hear the psalmist ask to be judged, to seek it out and solicit God’s judgment, may seem incredulous. What are we missing here?
When the psalmist talks about appearing in court before God the judge, this is not a criminal case where the psalmist (or you!) are on the dock. This is a civil case, and you are the plaintiff.[ii] If it were a criminal case – which it’s not – the best judgment you could hope for is an acquittal. But this is a civil case, and you’re looking for a resounding triumph with heavy reward being made to you. You’re going to win this case. So the psalmist prays, “judge my quarrel” and “avenge my cause”[iii] The psalmist can’t wait for God’s judgment, nor should you.
Something we all have in common is our rather hidden lives. Very few people actually do know or can know the things that you know, that you carry in your heart, that you juggle, wrestle with, suffer over, have survived from… but God does. And in God’s judgment, you are absolutely amazing, a walking miracle. You are the apple of God’s eye.[iv] In God’s judgment, you are understood and cherished as God’s own child, and you are judged by God: judged to be created in God’s own image, judged as worthy of God’s love. In God’s judgment you need a Savior and Advocate to rescue you from mean and partial judgment. Jesus puts a face to God’s judgment, and this is a judgment of love. In God’s judgment you are no mystery. You are knowable and understandable and forgivable and lovable and helpable…. You are judged (already) as one with whom God has every desire and intention to share eternity.
[i] See, for example, Psalms 35, 57, 96.
[ii] Insight about civil vs. criminal court procedures drawn from C. S. Lewis’ Reflections on the Psalms. (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Co.), 1958; pp. 9-19.
[iii] Psalm 35:23.
[iv] Psalm 17:8.
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