The Death of Saddam
Should we rejoice over the execution of Saddam Hussein? The answer is: No, Yes, Yes. Let's look at a few brief issues.
No - we do not rejoice over the fall of any man, nor his punishment. God loves every human being and desires for all to repent, and come to the knowledge of salvation. We have no "glee" in seeing an enemy killed, no matter how evil he was. Ezekiel 33:11 – "Saith the Lord God, 'I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked.'"
Yes - we do rejoice when righteous judgment and punishment is fulfilled. Justice is simply to punish the wicked and exonerate the innocent. Unfortunately, in the world today, we too often see just the opposite: people want to condemn the innocent and justify the wicked. Proverbs 17:15 – "He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the just, both of them are an abomination to the Lord." Saddam Hussein was one of the worst dictators and murderers of our generation. The fact that he has been brought to justice is cause for thanksgiving and praise.
The judgments of the Lord are mentioned 100's of times in the scriptures, always in a positive manner. Revelation 15:4 – "Who shall not glorify thy name, O Lord?… for thy judgments are made manifest." Revelation 16:7 – "Lord God, true and righteous are your judgments." Revelation 19:2 - "Halleluyah… for true and righteous are His judgments." The administration of justice is seen as a manifest work of a moral God, and therefore worthy of praise.
Yes - we also rejoice for the results of justice for the people. Iraqis themselves were rejoicing at the possibility for freedom for the first time in their lives. The execution of Saddam also represents freedom and justice for the Kurds in northern Iraq. Proverbs 11:10 – "When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices; and when the wicked perish, there is jubilation." We rejoice together with those who have been delivered from oppression and suffering.
Honor – when men commit horrible crimes, such as Saddam, they must receive capital punishment (death sentence) for their crimes. This is commanded in scripture. Genesis 9:6 – "Whoever sheds man's blood, by man his blood shall be shed; for in the image of god He made man." However, it is also commanded that the murderer be respected even during the time of the trial and the execution (Deuteronomy 21:23, Joshua 8:29). Both of those laws come from the fact that man is made in the image of God. One who murders another has committed a crime worthy of capital punishment. However even the murderer himself is a human in divine image, and must be dealt with honorably.
Trial – another aspect of justice is that a suspected criminal be given a trial in which the evidence will be examined. As Nicodemus said, "Does our Law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he has done?" (John 7:51) The purpose of the trial is to make sure that the condemning evidence is factual, and that no potential exonerating evidence was overlooked. Those two purposes were certainly fulfilled in Saddam's trial, however faltering and awkward the trial procedures may have been.