Psalms – Prayers of Honesty
There are so many things in life that are good to know. When the expiration date on milk is passed, don’t drink it. While reaching for toothpaste in a drawer, make sure it is not hair gel. When driving in Fort Wayne, just because the light is green for you doesn’t mean someone will stop on their red light. And don’t get me started on those who do not know what a yield sign is!
Yes, there are some actions in life that frustrate us. Some behaviors of others that break our hearts. There are a lot of things in life that are just good to know. These life hacks, also called laws in some cases, keep us safe. We learn these things by doing life and learning from those who have done life before us. We also learn from God, Himself!
Our passage today says we are even blessed when we learn from God. The Psalmist begins, as usual, telling God all about those who do not “yield” to God’s Law. The writer wants justice for those who bully the poor, maim the orphans and kill all who follow God. He asks if God knows. Seems silly to ask the omniscient Creator, God, if He knows what is going on in the world He created, but the writer must ask for this is honesty in human frustration. This is being honest before God. This is part of the learning process. This is God working out His salvation in us as we ask for clarity through questioning. I’m sure we have all ask the same question of God. Asking questions leads to learning.
Then the writer answers his own question…”God knows all right…” With honesty in talking to the God of all, Who knows all and is in all, we learn from God. We acknowledge Who He really is for us and in us. We gain confidence and assurance that He indeed knows and will take care of all that is wrong. He wins now and in the end. We can count on Him. It is good, “blessed” even, to know that we know what we know about God.
Psalm 94, The Message
1-2 God, put an end to evil;
avenging God, show your colors!
Judge of the earth, take your stand;
throw the book at the arrogant.
3-4 God, the wicked get away with murder—
how long will you let this go on?
They brag and boast
and crow about their crimes!
5-7 They walk all over your people, God,
exploit and abuse your precious people.
They take out anyone who gets in their way;
if they can’t use them, they kill them.
They think, “God isn’t looking,
Jacob’s God is out to lunch.”
8-11 Well, think again, you idiots,
fools—how long before you get smart?
Do you think Ear-Maker doesn’t hear,
Eye-Shaper doesn’t see?
Do you think the trainer of nations doesn’t correct,
the teacher of Adam doesn’t know?
God knows, all right—
knows your stupidity,
sees your shallowness.
12-15 How blessed the man you train, God,
the woman you instruct in your Word,
Providing a circle of quiet within the clamor of evil,
while a jail is being built for the wicked.
God will never walk away from his people,
never desert his precious people.
Rest assured that justice is on its way
and every good heart put right.
16-19 Who stood up for me against the wicked?
Who took my side against evil workers?
If God hadn’t been there for me,
I never would have made it.
The minute I said, “I’m slipping, I’m falling,”
your love, God, took hold and held me fast.
When I was upset and beside myself,
you calmed me down and cheered me up.
20-23 Can Misrule have anything in common with you?
Can Troublemaker pretend to be on your side?
They ganged up on good people,
plotted behind the backs of the innocent.
But God became my hideout,
God was my high mountain retreat,
Then boomeranged their evil back on them:
for their evil ways he wiped them out,
our God cleaned them out for good.
Few problems cause God’s people to question His rule more than, “Why do the helpless and the godly suffer and the wicked get away with their crimes?” When it comes to dealing with the injustices in society, the psalm teaches us that the righteous have four responsibilities:
1. Praying to the Lord for Justice (vv. 1-7). God hears!
God’s requirement for His people is that they “do justly … love mercy, and … walk humbly with God” (Mic. 6:8), for the Lord loves justice and hears the prayers of those who have been treated unjustly.
The word vengeance is often misinterpreted to mean “revenge” or “being vindictive,” as though God were having a temper tantrum, but “to avenge” means to uphold the law and give justice to those who have been wronged.
Since the Lord is omniscient, He is able to judge motives as well as actions and deal with situations and people justly. He is the Judge of all the earth and always does what is right.
We want the Lord to act immediately, but He is gracious and long-suffering, and we must walk by faith (Luke 18:1-8). The proud and arrogant “belch out” evil words and commit evil deeds, and the godly can do nothing to stop them. Orphans, widows, and aliens in the land were under the special care of the Lord. The helpless are God’s covenant people and He is Jehovah–the Lord–a name used nine times in the psalm. The wicked convince themselves that God does not see their evil deeds, but He does!
2. Warning the Wicked of Their Danger (vv. 8-11).
After praying to the Lord, we must confront the wicked with the truth, as the Lord gives us opportunity.
These people were behaving like animals and not like humans made in the image of God. They had such a low view of God (v. 7) that they were unable to think logically. If God made the eye and ear, is He unable to see and hear? Is the creature greater than the Creator? The subversive plans and plots of evil leaders cannot be hidden from the Lord, nor will they go unpunished. Be assured God knows.
3. Accepting God’s Discipline (vv. 12-15).
The words chasten or discipline in other translations (v. 12) mean “teaching and instruction from God’s law” (Deut. 8:5; Prov. 3:11-12). The psalmist recognized the fact that the difficulties of life could help him mature in his faith. If God immediately rescued His people from their personal difficulties, they would become “spoiled brats” and never grow in faith or character. “For whom the Lord loves He chastens” (Heb. 12:6). God uses personal difficulties to teach us new truths from His Word. Good to know.
4. Working WITH God for Justice (vv. 16-23).
The psalmist was experiencing the devious plots of the evil leaders and cried out to God for help. He knew that the judges were twisting the law to exploit the poor (v. 20), and he was slipping into a deep and dangerous situation. His heart was anxious within him, but the Lord held him up, pulled him out, and gave him peace within.
Like Asaph in Psalm 73, he had been slipping in his faith and walk, but God showed him that the wicked were in slippery places and heading rapidly toward judgment.
In evil days, we give thanks that we have the Lord as our refuge and fortress. We hide in Him, like the writer points out, not that we may escape responsibility, but that we might be equipped to go forth and fight the enemy.
As the salt of the earth and the light of the world (Matt. 5:13-16), God’s people should do all they can to encourage justice in this world. As Edmund Burke said, “It is necessary only for the good man to do nothing for evil to triumph.” But in the end, it is the Lord who knows the hearts of people and who will judge justly. Good to know.
How is injustice connected to disregard for the Lord?
What keeps you from cheating and abusing others?
Why does the Lord allow unjust leaders to retain their power? When will the righteous be vindicated?
“Blessed is the man and woman”…who learn from God! What does this mean for you? Think of your last learning experience or “teachable moment” from God. What did you learn about Him, about life, about you?
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for your consistent teaching and instruction about You and how to love and live in Your ways. Thank you for saving us. Thank you for knowing all, being in all, and being present always. This is good to know. I love you, Lord with all my heart, mind and soul. Continue your instruction to me. Continue your transformation of me to be all that you intended for me to be.
In Jesus Name, Amen