Does God Delight in the Death of the Wicked?

In recent years, I have had people close to me die. Throughout most of my life, I have not dealt so personally with loved ones dying. A verse comes to mind for me during these times and it is Psalm 116:15 that speaks of  death of His godly ones being precious in God’s eyes. The Hebrew word hasid means godly or faithful. It is an interesting verse.

When a loved one is dying, my concern is for that person’s salvation. Have they believed in the Lord Jesus, the One who died for their sin, and the One that God sent because He loved the world so much? The one, who believes in Jesus, will not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16).

Many people view God as a God of wrath and hate. Somehow, the God of the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament Scriptures are seen as two different gods. However, God’s nature does not change and He is the same in the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament Scriptures. It is interesting to see in the Hebrew Scriptures that God does not delight in the death of the wicked, but precious in His eyes is the death of His faithful or godly ones. How does this make sense? The Gospel provides a clear application for understanding these verses.

God says in Ezekiel 18:23 (NASB), ‘Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked,’ declares the Lord GOD, ‘rather than that he should turn from his ways and live?” Also in Ezekiel 33:11(NASB) He says, “‘Say to them, ‘As I live!’ declares the Lord GOD, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live.” God is speaking to the Israelites in these passages, but the application is valid for us today. If an understanding of the New Testament Scriptures is brought into the picture, it is easy to see how tragic the death of the wicked would be. If a person dies without Jesus, then that person is separated for all eternity from God.

On the other hand, Psalm 116:15 says, “Precious in the sight of the LORD Is the death of His godly ones.”  The word translated precious is the Hebrew word yakar. It is often used in reference to precious stones and is most often translated precious. Some other translations are costly, rare, or weighty. Some Jewish translations translate the verse as difficult or grievous instead of precious, but that does not seem consistent with the normal understanding of the word. From what I have studied, I do not see that word translated as such anywhere else in the Hebrew Scriptures. Timios is the Greek word used in the Septuagint and also has the meaning of costly or precious. Those Jewish translators kept the normal meaning of the word in the Greek translation.

With an understanding of the Gospel of Jesus, the idea of the death of the godly ones being precious in God’s eyes makes clearer sense. Even though the context of the Psalms concerns the Israelites, there is still relevance because the reference is to the faithful of God. In the case of the godly ones, who are the believing ones, if they die, they go to spend eternity with the Lord, but the unrepentant (wicked) would be separated from the Lord for all eternity. In 2 Corinthians 5:6, the Apostle Paul says that to be absence from the body is to be present with the Lord. He clearly speaks of the benefit of dying and being with the Lord.

When I read these Hebrew passages, I see clearly how the God of the Hebrew Scriptures is a God of love and the same God who sent His Son to die for our sins. He gave multiple chances for the Israelites to repent in the Scriptures and He gives multiple chances to all today. If the wicked repent, they will live to have eternal life with the Lord and when the godly ones or faithful die, they go to be with the Lord for all eternity. They will be resurrected to new life.

I am also reminded of what the Apostle Peter said in 2 Peter 3:9 (NASB), “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” God is incredibly patient and takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked.


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