1 Your immortal spirit is in every one of them, 2 and so you gently correct those who sin against you. You remind them of what they are doing, and warn them about it, so that they may abandon their evil ways and put their trust in you, Lord.
The Sins of the Canaanites
3-4 You hated the people who lived in your holy land long ago, because they did horrible things: they practiced magic and conducted unholy worship; 5 they killed children without mercy and ate the flesh and blood of human beings. They were initiated into secret rituals 6 in which parents murdered their own defenseless children. It was your will for our ancestors to destroy these people, 7 so that the land which you consider the most precious of all lands would be a suitable home for your people. 8 But even in this you showed mercy toward their enemies, since they were only human beings. You sent hornets ahead of your army, to destroy the enemy gradually. 9 You could have allowed the righteous to destroy those ungodly people in battle; you could have wiped them out immediately with wild animals or with one harsh command. 10 But instead, you carried out your sentence gradually, to give them a chance to repent, even though you knew that they came from evil stock, that they had been wicked since birth, and that they would never change their way of thinking. 11 Their whole nation was cursed from the start, and though you had not punished them for their sins, it was not because you were afraid of anyone.
God Is Sovereign
12 You created those wicked people, and no one can speak in their defense or condemn you for destroying them. No one can question what you have done or challenge your judgment. 13 All things are under your care, and there is no other god to whom you must justify your decisions. 14 No king or ruler on earth can accuse you of punishing those people unfairly. 15 You are righteous, and you rule everything righteously. You have never used your power to condemn a person who does not deserve to be punished. 16 Your strength is the source of justice. You can show mercy to everyone, because you are the Lord of all. 17 You show your strength when people doubt that your power is perfect, and you punish anyone who knows your power but dares to ignore it. 18 Even though you have absolute power, you are a merciful judge. You could take action against us whenever you like, but instead, you rule us with great patience.
19 By the things you have done you have taught your people that a person who is righteous must also be kind. You have given your people abundant hope by allowing them to repent of their sins. 20 You were very careful and patient in punishing your people's enemies; even when they deserved to die, you gave them every opportunity to give up their sinful ways. 21 But you judged your own people very strictly, even though you had made covenants with their ancestors and had solemnly promised to give them good things.
22 Yes, you punish us, but you punish our enemies ten thousand times more, so that when we judge others, we may remember your goodness, and when we are being judged, we may look for mercy.
The Punishment of the Egyptians
23 And so you tormented those who were foolish enough to live wickedly—you tormented them with the horrible things they worshiped. 24 They had wandered far away from the truth and worshiped the most disgusting and horrible animals. They were deceived as easily as little children. 25 And so you punished them for their stupidity, and your judgment made them look like fools. 26 It was a light punishment, but those who pay no attention to such warnings deserve to feel the full weight of God's judgment. 27 When they were punished with those creatures they considered gods, they became bitterly disillusioned and recognized that the true God was the one they had always refused to acknowledge. That is why they suffered the final punishment.