Psalm 72:1-2 “Endow the king with your justice, O God, the royal son with your righteousness. He will judge your people in righteousness, your afflicted ones with justice.”
How does the justice and righteousness of this King make you feel? Does it make you want to go rushing to him for help? Or does it make you want to shy away from him instead? We have reason to fear his justice when we realize that he makes his judgments based on absolute, and not relative, standards. What do I mean by that? By nature, we are lawbreakers at heart. Since we break the law, we don’t want to be judged by whether or not we have kept the law, but by how we compare to everyone else.
When parents confront their children for fighting, how often doesn’t one of them protest, “But he started it.” In other words, don’t judge me for whether or not I am pounding on my brother. Judge me for having the restraint and good sense to let my sibling take the first swing. That’s a relative standard. I heard a talk radio host describing his first appearance before a judge for speeding. He protested that he wasn’t the only one driving over the speed limit. Other cars had even been passing him. Relative to the other drivers, he thought he was doing pretty well. The judge told him, “When you look way over in the right lane, and you see the little Honda putting along at 55 m.p.h., that will be me going the speed limit.” That judge insisted on an absolute, not a relative, standard of right and wrong for handing down justice.
So it is that when I stand before our Lord, the King, for judgment, it is just he and I. He isn’t interested in how we compare to everyone else. He has been endowed with justice. “He will judge your people in righteousness.” He has an absolute standard, a standard that says, “Whoever keeps the whole law, yet stumbles at just one point, is guilty of breaking all of it.” “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to everything written in the book of the law.” Not most of it. Not more than other people. “Everything written in the book of the law.” If Christ our King is just, we have reason to be afraid.
But wait a minute. Is that how Solomon sounds in these verses? Doesn’t he rather seem to be celebrating the King’s justice? We can welcome his justice because it is accompanied by his mercy. Jesus’ mercy doesn’t lead him to lay his justice aside. He doesn’t change his standards. But he did provide another way for those standards to be satisfied. The King traded his crown and royal robes for servants clothes and kept the whole law for us. Then he added ropes and chains and the trappings of a prisoner, and he took our place on death row at the cross. Justice was served on him instead of us. The prison door was opened for us to go free. We were declared just and righteous by the One who is just. No wonder we call him our King!