Because of His perfect, absolute righteousness, God is also called by two names that speak of His judgment upon unrighteousness. We find the first, for example, in Jer_51:56, where He is called Jehovah Gemûlāh. The prophet foretells that God will come “upon Babylon, and her mighty men are taken, every one of their bows is broken: for the LORD God of recompences shall surely requite.” The Hebrew gemûlāh (H1578)—a derivative of gāmal (H1580), “to deal, to recompense, to ripen”—speaks of full repayment for what is deserved.
There are many instances of this word (and other derivatives) that speak of recompense, both of judgment and blessing. Used positively, for example, when David was fleeing from Absalom, Barzillai provided him with supplies (2Sa_19:32), and David returned the favor (2Sa_19:36). It is even used to speak of benefits God has given (Psa_103:2). At times, the positive and negative are actually contrasted, as in the Virtuous Woman, who “will do [gāmal] him [her husband] good and not evil all the days of her life” (Pro_31:12).
It is the negative, however, that is truly sobering. The instance here in our text speaks of God’s retribution on His enemies, as does Isa_59:18 : “According to their deeds, accordingly he will repay, fury to his adversaries, recompence to his enemies; to the islands he will repay recompence.” The psalmist calls upon this God of Recompense to “give [the wicked] according to their deeds, and according to the wickedness of their endeavours: give them after the work of their hands; render to them their desert [gemûl]” (Psa_28:4).
We cannot help but make special note of Psa_94:2 : “Lift up thyself, thou judge of the earth: render a reward [gemûl] to the proud.” As we will observe in a future study, pride is never used in a positive way of man in Scripture. Here we read of, in fact, its costliness; God will recompense it, judging it as harshly as He did the Babylonians. How this should show us what a serious sin pride is!
Scriptures for Study: On the positive side, what does Psa_116:12 command? On the negative side, what does Isa_3:9 warn?