Wednesday, January 22, 2014

He Who Requires Blood

Sounds like a bad vampire movie: “He Who Requires Blood”, though only to our modern ears, of course. The author of Psalm 9 made no such silly Hollywood associations and neither did his original readers. The subject was deadly serious:
“Sing praises to the Lord, who sits enthroned in Zion!
Tell among the peoples his deeds!
For he who requires blood is mindful of them;
he does not forget the cry of the afflicted.” (Psalm 9:11,12)
If you were – or are – one of the “afflicted”, this is very good news. The word “peoples” here refers to nations. David is looking forward to a time when the Lord Jesus will reign over the earth and will “judge the world in righteousness” and “execute judgement for the [nations] with equity”.

He is occupied here with the absolute fairness of God’s ways with man.

The First Murder

The requirement of blood goes all the way back to Cain’s murder of Abel in Genesis. God says to Cain, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground.” Blood does not literally have a voice, but God is telling Cain that this is something the he cannot let pass. His righteousness makes it impossible for him to simply overlook the shedding of blood.

The Law, and Prior

He goes on to later lay down a rule for mankind, one that that precedes but was later reiterated in the Mosaic Law: “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed”. The reasoning supplied is that “in the image of God he made man”. This can be understood in two equally true ways:

1.    that because man is made in God’s image he has a value that cannot be ignored in the interest of justice; an account must be given for the shedding of blood; and

2.    that because man is made in God’s image, he has both the responsibility and conferred authority from God to administer justice on God’s behalf.

This word “require” in connection with blood first occurs in the same context, when God says, “Surely I will require your lifeblood; from every beast I will require it. And from every man, from every man’s brother I will require the life of man”. From a comparison of the Hebrew word used for “require” it is evident that the emphasis is not that God ‘needs’ blood in any sort of pagan, sacrificial sense; rather the word is variously translated “investigates”, “inquires”, “carefully searches” or “reckons”, indicating that God is determined to see justice done in every single instance.

The Fairness of God

The Lord who sits enthroned in Zion will inquire into the deaths of those who have been killed by animals (“from every beast I will require it”). There is an account to be given for every taking of a human life. I can’t pretend to know how this will be accomplished but, as with the statement that from “every man, and from every man’s brother I will require the life of man”, the emphasis on the completeness and thoroughness of the investigator’s work. Nobody will be left out, no guilty party will escape untouched, no victim will remain unavenged or unremembered.

He will be meticulously and exactingly fair.

Our courts, if we are honest, are not. Man’s concept of justice has degenerated horribly in recent years. In some countries of the world, people have never seen justice at all. Innocents are executed by mistake or imprisoned for years with no hope of a fair hearing. Prosecutions are undertaken for the purpose of advancing careers rather than finding truth. Murderers go free because of technicalities. But most often the courts are simply indifferent to the falsely accused and immovable in the face of a legitimate complaint, unless you have astonishing amounts of money to advance your plea or defend your name. Court officials, lawyers and judges are frequently entirely invested in perpetuating the process from which they make their living, and insensate to the damage they cause to individual lives.

Not in the court of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Justice is Coming

When he comes to reign on the earth, it will finally have a government that “does not forget the cry of the afflicted”. His justice will be absolute and complete. And far from being a cause of terror (except to evildoers, of course), this, David tells us, is a reason to sing his praises.

When the innocent suffer, we are often told it is proof that God is either unloving or doesn’t exist at all. But the Bible does not suggest for a moment that God is uncaring of victims; the very opposite – He “does not forget”.

Justice is coming, and it will be something worth singing about.

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