Arise, O LORD, in your anger;
lift yourself up against the fury of my enemies;
(Psalm 7:6 ESV)
God alone is able to fulfill His promises. Those who offer promises, who swear they will do something, who claim ability to satisfy, may accomplish what they have promised in some circumstances, but not every circumstance. No fallen person can say they will do something, or never do something, and know with 100% certainty they will follow through. No one can foresee the future and every possible circumstance that may arise. No one has total control over what will happen. Only God is omniscient and omnipotent, having the foreknowledge of what will be because He exists outside of space-time history. He alone sees the beginning of history from the end. Only God has the power and compassion and will to do that which He promises.
In the Psalms, Jesus asks God to deliver Him from His enemies. “Turn, O LORD, deliver my life; save me for the sake of your steadfast love” (Psalm 6:4 ESV). Then Jesus declares God hears and accepts His prayer. “Depart from me, all you workers of evil, for the LORD has heard the sound of my weeping. The LORD has heard my plea; the LORD accepts my prayer” (Psalm 6:8-9 ESV). Jesus is so confident in the promise of God to judge righteously between those who falsely accuse Him and His own righteousness that He declares His “enemies shall be ashamed and greatly troubled; they shall turn back and be put to shame in a moment” (Psalm 6:10 ESV).
Trust is an emotional, active response to a promise, and is integral to true faith. Without trust there is no faith and “without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (Hebrews 11:6 ESV). Jesus is so confident in God’s response to His suffering for righteousness’s sake that He prays God respond in His wrath. Arise means to come upon the scene and stand up in power, to fix oneself in an immovable position and to endure against all assaults. God not only arises but lifts Himself up. To lift yourself up means bear up, take upon Himself, carry, support, sustain and endure, as well as to exalt oneself. God takes a stand against sin, placing Himself as a shield between those who are His and His enemies.
God’s anger is the snorting kind and is the same word and concept used in the previous Psalm. Anger also means nose or face and suggests heavy breathing. “O LORD, rebuke me not in your anger, nor discipline me in your wrath” (Psalm 6:1 ESV). The image is of a person who witnesses something disgusting and snorts in derision and anger. God’s anger is against sin and the Deceiver, His enemies. Those who continue to disobey His command to repent and turn back to Him are also His enemies. Those who continue in their disobedience face the wrath of God.
When Moses brought the Israelite people out of Egypt they were led by God.
“And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people” (Exodus 12:21-22 ESV).
After years of Egyptian enslavement, God promised to bring them out of Egypt and into their own land. To do this, God sent Moses to Pharaoh to command the Egyptian king to let the people of God leave. Pharaoh refused, believing himself equal to or greater than any god. After God persuaded Pharaoh to let His people go, Pharaoh changed his mind and pursued them. As Pharaoh’s army approached God, moved from before the people to between them and the Egyptians, as a shield.
Then the angel of God who was going before the host of Israel moved and went behind them, and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them, coming between the host of Egypt and the host of Israel. And there was the cloud and the darkness. And it lit up the night without one coming near the other all night. (Exodus 14:19-20 ESV)
God raised Himself up in judgment against a king who rebelled against Him, refusing to obey His direct command. All of Pharaoh’s army perished, feeling the wrath of God. “The waters returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen; of all the host of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea, not one of them remained” (Exodus 14:28 ESV). God raised Himself up in judgment.
Forty years later, Joshua led the people into the Promised Land. As he was standing before Jericho, he came face-to-face with the angel of the LORD. He saw the pre-incarnate Christ, who came as the Commander of the army of the LORD.
When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?”
And he said, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the LORD. Now I have come.”
And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, “What does my lord say to his servant?”
And the commander of the LORD’s army said to Joshua, “Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.(Joshua 5:13-15 ESV).
God the Son directed Joshua against Jericho and the enemies of God living in the land.
God promises to rebuke and punish those who are His enemies. “Arise, O LORD! Save me, O my God! For you strike all my enemies on the cheek; you break the teeth of the wicked” (Psalm 3:7 ESV).
Why? If Jesus died for the sins of the people created in His image, why do any continue to face His wrath? Jesus tells us. His enemies show their response to the grace of God in utter hatred for Him. God’s enemies fight against Him with fury, which is overflowing wrath and arrogance, outbursts of uncontrolled rage. Those who suffer for righteousness’ sake feel the brunt of the excessive rage of the world against God because of His righteousness (Matthew 5:10-12). Jesus endured torture, choosing to die from the brutal, cruel treatment of the Jews and the Romans because He was righteous before God. Those who continue in their disobedience want to destroy God so He no longer has control and authority of all creation. This will never happen.