What practical conclusions should we draw from Proverbs 11:10 (you can also listen to or download my message on Bin Laden from our church’s web site)?
Proverbs 11:10 When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices, And when the wicked perish, there is joyful shouting.
(1) Men rejoice and ought to rejoice in the judgment of the wicked.
This is why a blanket or general condemnation of all rejoicing over the killing of Osama Bin Laden is not biblical or balanced. The Bible teaches that God’s judgment of the wicked and the freedom it gives us from their oppression and danger ought to make us praise God. It is both unnatural and unrighteous if it does not.
(2) This delight in the judgment of the wicked justice confirms the justice and righteousness of God’s judgment of the wicked.
Rejoicing, being glad, and feeling satisfaction at the judgment of the wicked is the natural, instinctive, and necessary response of creatures made in the image of God of justice to the demise of men like Hitler, Stalin, and Bin Laden. It cannot be repressed and ought not to be suppressed. This satisfaction and joy is the inner and self-attesting confirmation that God’s judgment on wicked is both righteous and just.
Those newspaper headlines which read something like, Rot in hell, may be public and published violations of the command not to rejoice in the fall of our enemies. I think they are! But they are also something else. Here’s what they make me want to say: Oh, so now we believe in hell! We believe in hell for Osama Bin Laden. So now the question is not whether hell is just. Now we admit that hell is just for some people. Now the only question is not whether there is a hell, but who should go there?
So our innate response of satisfaction at justice being done on Bin Laden ought not to be condemned or repressed, but it ought to make us admit that we do believe in hell. There is something deep and indelible in our natures which affirms that hell is just and right.
(3) This innate sense of the justice of God’s judgment on the wicked confirms the propriety of our sense of guilt when we know ourselves to be sinful.
But now let me come even closer to us personally. This undeniable sense of satisfied justice that we feel in the killing of Bin Laden means that our own feelings of guilt for our sins are not false feelings of guilt. They are the authentic expressions of the work of the law written on our hearts. When your heart tells you that you deserve punishment for sins you have committed, when it accuses you of not loving God and not loving your neighbor in all sorts of clear and flagrant sins, listen to it! It is literally the voice of God to you. It is not feelings of false guilt. It is the echo of the justice of almighty God.
(4) All this confirms that we understand by nature the necessity of a substitionary curse-bearer if we are ever to be saved.
This just sense of guilt and condemnation is a primary assertion of our natures as made in the image of God. This indelible sense of guilt tells us that we need someone to bear the punishment and curse of our sins if we are ever to be saved. We do not know the gospel by nature. We do not know that there is such a substitutionary curse-bearer by nature. We could never hope that there is such a Savior from nature. But we do know by nature that we need such a Savior, such a curse-bearer, such a substitute, and such a gospel. The great news is that such a Savior exists and will receive us if we will to Him acknowledging your guilt and need.
Dr. Sam Waldron is the Academic Dean of CBTS and professor of Systematic Theology. He is also one of the pastors of Grace Reformed Baptist Church in Owensboro, KY. Dr. Waldron received a B.A. from Cornerstone University, an M.Div. from Trinity Ministerial Academy, a Th.M. from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. From 1977 to 2001 he was a pastor of the Reformed Baptist Church of Grand Rapids, MI. Dr. Waldron is the author of numerous books including A Modern Exposition of the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith, The End Times Made Simple, Baptist Roots in America, To Be Continued?, and MacArthur’s Millennial Manifesto: A Friendly Response.