(Psalm 7:11) What Does It Mean That "God Is Angry With the Wicked Every Day"?
“God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day.” (Psalm 7:11, King James Version)
As you will see, this question is very interesting to answer due to the different translations of this text. I have quoted from the King James Version (KJV) above. Although I have styled it all in italics, only the words “with the wicked” are italicized in the KJV. This means those words are supplied by the translators according to their own understanding of the text. Notice how the English Standard Version (EVS) translates it:
“God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day.”(Psalm 7:11, English Standard Version)
This is similar, except for the words “with the wicked” are not there. Remember, the translators of the EVS haven’t deleted any words, the KJV translators added the words. Here’s how the New International Version (NIV) has it:
“God is a righteous judge, a God who displays his wrath every day.” (Psalm 7:11, New International Version)
Here we see the understanding is that God “displays His wrath every day.” If you have read the article, What is God’s Wrath?, you learned that God does not display wrath as fallen man does. Man’s anger and wrath lashes out towards the offender, but God displays wrath and anger by departing from the offender. God reluctantly leaves the persistent sinner to reap that which they have sown. And yes, God reluctantly does this “every day.” Notice how the Psalmist brings this truth out a few verses later:
“See the one who is pregnant with wickedness, who conceives destructive plans, and gives birth to harmful lies – he digs a pit and then falls into the hole he has made. He becomes the victim of his own destructive plans and the violence he intended for others falls on his own head.” (Psalm 11:14-16, New English Translation)
Clearly, God displaying His wrath every day is to permit the wicked to become the victim of his own destructive plans. The persistent sinner who steps out from within the boundaries of God’s Law (His protocol for life), will naturally find death and destruction from sin. God will never interfere with one’s choices. The wrath God feels is not ruthless aggression toward the sinner, but the intense grief of knowing that He must give the sinner over to that which he selfishly desires. Again, please see the aforementioned article: What is God’s Wrath?
Other Interesting Translations
It is quite interesting to read other translations of this text. Even though they do not disprove what we have said above concerning God’s wrath, they do give a slightly different meaning. For example, in the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible) it says this:
“God is a righteous judge, and strong, and patient, not inflicting vengeance every day.” (Psalm 7:11, Brenton’s Septuagint)
Can you see the difference? Here it states that God is NOT inflicting vengeance every day. Compare this to the Contemporary English Version:
“You see that justice is done, and each day you take revenge.” (Psalm 7:11, Contemporary English Version)
One says God doesn’t take vengeance every day, the other says He does. Look how the Aramaic version reads:
“God, the Judge of truth, is not angry every day.” (Psalm 7:11, Aramaic Bible in Plain English)
The Douay-Rheims Bible forms it into a question:
“God is a just judge, strong and patient: is he angry every day?” (Psalm 7:11, Douay-Rheims Bible)
The Literal Standard Version says it this way:
“God [is] judging right, | And He is not angry at all times.” (Psalm 7:11, Literal Standard Version)
Here’s the New American Bible:
“God is a just judge, powerful and patient, not exercising anger every day.” (Psalm 7:11, New American Bible)
And Young’s Literal Translation:
“God is a righteous judge, And He is not angry at all times.” (Psalm 7:11, Young’s Literal Translation)
One extremely interesting translation is quoted by Adam Clarke in his commentary on Psalm 7:11:
“The Genevan version, printed by Barker, the king's printer, 1615, translates thus: ‘God judgeth the righteous, and him that contemneth God every day.’ (Adam Clarke’s commentary on the Whole Bible, Psalm 7:11)
As you can see, in the Genevan Version it turns the anger coming from man toward God. This is in line with Scripture where Paul reminds us that “the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot” (Romans 8:7). The Genevan Version uses the word “contemneth” (contemn) in Psalm 7:11 which, according to kingjamesbibledictionary.com, means:
CONTEMN, verb transitive [Latin , to despise; to drive away.]
1. To despise; to consider and treat as mean and despicable; to scorn.
In whose eyes a vile person is contemned. Psalms 15:4.
2. To slight; to neglect as unworthy of regard; to reject with disdain.
Wherefore do the wicked contemn God. Psalms 10:13.
They contemn the counsel of the Most High. Psalms 107:11.
So, the one who contemns God is the one who treats God as being mean and despicable. They regard God as vile and unworthy of regard. This reminds me of the verse in 2 Samuel:
“With the purified you deal purely, and with the crooked you make yourself seem tortuous [twisted, complex, difficult to follow].” (2 Samuel 22:27, English Standard Version)
Those whose minds that are being purified see God in His true beauty, but those whose minds remain closed to His Spirit and are “set on the flesh” and “hostile to God” wrongly perceive God to be twisted and cruel – a Tyrant. They misunderstand and therefore misrepresent God’s justice and judgment, thinking that it is God who is afflicting them. However, in God’s true justice and judgment, He will reluctantly permit the sinner to perceive Him that way. He will allow us to judge ourselves. Jesus explains this in the parable of the talents:
“His master replied, ‘You wicked servant, I will judge you by your own words. So you knew [οἶδα, perceived] that I am a harsh man …” (Luke 19:22)
This wrongful thinking comes out in the following translation of Psalm 7:11:
“God is a righteous judge and always condemns the wicked.” (Psalm 7:11, Good News Translation)
Can you believe this comes from a translation called “Good News”? God has NEVER condemned anyone. God is always on our side seeking for our healing and restoration. He is never seeking to condemn and harm anyone – even His worst enemy.
“Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you … and you will be sons of the Most High. For He [God] is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.” (Luke 6:27, 28, 35, 36)
“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31)
The Spirit of Christ does “convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment" (John 16:7, 8). But we must remember that Jesus is doing this as “the Helper” or “The Comforter” – never to condemn. His Spirit convicts us of sin in order to draw us to repentance. And what is it that leads us to repentance? God’s kindness:
“… do you disregard the riches of His kindness, tolerance, and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4, Berean Study Bible)
Going back to Adam Clarkes’ Commentary, he concludes:
“I have judged it of consequence to trace this verse through all the ancient versions in order to be able to ascertain what is the true reading, where the evidence on one side amounts to a positive affirmation, ‘God is angry every day;’ and, on the other side, to as positive a negation, ‘He is Not angry every day.’ The mass of evidence supports the latter reading. The Chaldee first corrupted the text by making the addition, ‘with the wicked’, which our translators have followed, though they have put the words into italics, as not being in the Hebrew text. In the MSS. [manuscripts] collated by Kennicott and De Rossi there is no various reading on this text.
The true sense may be restored thus: -
אל el, with the vowel point tsere, signifies God: אל al, the same letters, with the point pathach, signifies ‘not.’ Several of the versions have read it in this way: ‘God judgeth the righteous, and is Not angry every day.’ He is not always chiding, nor is he daily punishing, notwithstanding the continual wickedness of men: hence, the ideas of patience and longsuffering which several of the versions introduce.” (Adam Clarke's Commentary on the Whole Bible, Psalm 7:11)
Whichever translation you prefer, the meaning of what God is doing is still the same. He is still permitting the persistent sinner to judge Him and naturally reap what they have decided and sown, whether He does this every day or not.