Although our Lord is not the author of sin, He is the One who alone can make men bear their guilt. The doctrine of reprobation is a hard one, but it is an inescapable truth. It is God alone who determines who will or will not be redeemed by the blood of His Lamb; man is either elected unto salvation, or damned by his own guiltiness. There is, of course, a temporal aspect to this petition, for David is asking the Lord to punish his enemies in time. Yet given the nature of this psalm – i.e. its setting in the temple, the offering of a substitutionary sacrifice, acceptance with God being rooted in the provision of a sacrifice for His chosen people, etc – the petition here takes on eternal significance. The wicked will continue to bear their own guilt, for they have no substitute which will bear it in their place. They will be killed by God, for there is none to die in their place.
10a. …let them fall by their own counsels;
This request stands in sharp contradistinction to David’s request in verse 8, where he prays that the Lord will lead him in His way/righteousness. As the righteous have been declared to be so by God’s Sovereign will, so too the reprobate by God’s will remain as they are. Likewise, as the righteous are conformed by God’s Word and Spirit to the image of Christ “…from one degree of glory to another…,”1 so too the wicked are increasing their guilt before the Lord by following the counsels of their own imaginations for God has given them over to their sins. As the righteous are raised to new life by the Counsel of God applied to their souls by the Counselor Himself (i.e. the Spirit of God), so too the reprobate fall by their own counsels for they have ignored all of Wisdom’s counsel and would have none of His reproof and hence are made foolish in their darkened hearts.2
10b. …because of the abundance of their transgressions cast them out, for they have rebelled against You.
Whereas David’s own salvation is due to “the abundance of [God’s] love,” the expulsion of the wicked from God’s everlasting kingdom is due to “the abundance of their transgression.” This once again emphasizes that salvation is not of works, and that damnation is the justly earned wages of the reprobate. We should not think, however, that we are better than the reprobate. We too have sins in abundance and deserve to be cast out forever from the Fatherly beneficence of God, yet “…Jesus…suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood.”3 This is what the unregenerate do not comprehend, what they refuse to believe, what they think is foolish. The wisdom of this world would have us believe that salvation from the wrath of God consists in our bearing our own sins, not in Another bearing our sins in His own body. Romanism would have men walk about, scourging themselves, sacrificing their monetary goods, and abstaining from fish. Islam would have men pray five times a day, visit Mecca, and give alms. Hinduism would have men repeat their lives over and over again. These religions, though differing in many particulars, essentially share one and the same blasphemy. They all teach that man can, by bearing his own sins, atone for his sins against God.
One would assume that the man who thinks himself responsible for his own salvation is more aware of his guiltiness before God than the Christian who sees salvation as, humanly speaking, impossible. However, the Scriptures teach us that “salvation is of the Lord.”4 Moreover, the Scripture clearly states that “by the works of the Law no one will be justified.”5 Therefore, the one who declares otherwise implies that God is a liar, or that God does not know what He speaks of when He declares that “…by the works of the Law no human being will be justified in His sight, since through the Law comes knowledge of sin.”6 He who denies that salvation is God’s work alone, therefore, implies that he is more righteous than God, for he implies that God is not telling the truth when He proclaims “…one is justified by faith apart from the works of the Law.”7 Likewise, he who denies that salvation is all of God’s work implies that he is wiser than God! The bearing of one’s own sins, therefore, cannot be salvific but only punitive. Those who bear their sins are the reprobate, not the children of God.
12 Cor 3:18b
2cf. Prov 1:25; Rom 1:21c
4cf. Jonah 2:9