We had a sound problem in the middle of the sermon, so here is the missing portion, with a little extra before and after for context:
Despite their own sin and guilt, Asaph dares to call on God. He acknowledges that there is a God. He pleads with God to do justice, and his words are chilling (vs. 6): Pour out your anger on the nations that do not know you, and on the kingdoms that do not call upon your name. This is a prayer for God’s retributive justice. He’s praying, “God, punish them! Even the score!”
In modern America, we usually don’t think of justice this way. We send people to prison with hope of rehabilitation. When a judge pronounces sentence, it’s in hopes of redirecting a life away from crime. That’s not what Asaph is praying for. He’s asking for judgment, for God’s wrath on the Babylonians. He uses similar language in verse 12: Return sevenfold into the lap of our neighbors the taunts with which they have taunted you, O Lord! Asaph knows that God’s justice is just, in the most absolute sense of the word. It always fits the crime – never more, never less. God’s justice is retributive, He punishes sin, and that’s a terrifying thing to consider. Since every injustice is an affront to an eternal and holy God, not just an affront to man, the Babylonians deserved – just as every sin deserves – God’s wrath. And we’re quick to agree! – when it’s the sin of others.
How will you stand before God on the Last Day? Give up the foolish thought that you’ve been good enough, that the scales of justice will somehow balance, that God is going to weigh your good deeds and bad deeds, and of course the good will outweigh the bad, and God will let you into heaven. That’s what Islam teaches, not Christianity. A single offence against an eternally and infinitely holy God deserves a judgment that will take eternity to repay. And who of us has committed only one sin? I can’t count up my sins against God in a single day. How many eternities would it take for us to pay God back? The way to God is not through our meeting His standards of justice.