21 And Miriam answered them: “Sing to the Lord, For He has triumphed gloriously! The horse and its rider He has thrown into the sea!”
For the last couple weeks one of the pervasive news items has been the killing of the notorious terrorist Osama bin Laden, mastermind of the September 2011 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. After nearly ten years eluding capture, bin Ladin was finally slain by an elite Navy Seals team on May 1, 2011. Perhaps as interesting as the killing itself is the controversy that has erupted in its wake – is it right to rejoice in the death of such a man?
As Miriam indicates in our text today and as the Psalms pervasively reveal, it is good and right to rejoice when God executes justice on the wicked. “Sing to the Lord, For He has triumphed gloriously! The horse and its rider He has thrown into the sea!” The Lord is the ruler of all. There are at times men and sometimes even women who are notoriously depraved. When such folks are brought to justice it is good and fitting to thank God for the same.
As Steve Wilkins has written, "While we are forbidden, as Christians, from rejoicing over our personal enemies – as though they deserved to die and we didn’t – we surely may rejoice when evil men who have oppressed and killed others perish." To rejoice in the demise of a Pharaoh, of an Ahab and Jezebel, of a Herod, or a Hitler, or a Stalin, or a Pol Pot, or an Osama bin Ladin is good and right.
Nevertheless, the fact that justice has been executed on bin Ladin reminds us that justice does not play favorites – justice too will visit us. We have been used by God to execute justice on a man who deserved the same – but unless we Americans repent, seek the forgiveness of God for our own sins, and return to the worship of the Triune God, we stand guilty under the same standard of justice.
Shall we execute judgment on a terrorist who has killed his thousands when by our laws we have slain millions of innocent children still in their mothers’ wombs? Shall we condemn this man for his numerous wives and mistresses when by our laws we scorn the marriage covenant and even sanction the abomination of sodomy? Shall we condemn this man for exploiting the poor and needy when by our laws we spend money to get out of debt and enslave future generations so that we can steal the fruit of their labor? We too stand guilty.
“Woe to America,” God Almighty says, “the rod of My anger
And the staff in whose hand is My indignation…
Shall the ax boast itself against him who chops with it?
Or shall the saw exalt itself against him who saws with it?
As if a rod could wield itself against those who lift it up,
Or as if a staff could lift up, as if it were not wood!
Therefore, the Lord, the Lord of hosts,
Will send disease on his sturdy frame, from head to toe,
And within his flesh a fever like fire shall burn."(cf. Is 10:5-11)
Reminded of our guilt as a people, let us kneel and confess our sins to God, seeking His mercy upon us as a people.