Praying the Psalms: Psalm 22

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” For most Christians that haunting question stirs our hearts with sorrow. That desperate question was uttered by none other than Jesus himself on the cross. Jesus references the first line of Psalm 22 as he hangs on the cross. The Gospel writers, particularly Mathew, uses Psalm 22 throughout the crucifixion narrative to emphasize the innocence of Jesus. Psalm 22 is a psalm of lament and like all psalms of lament, the conclusion ends in praise. As we read in this Psalm about the horrific suffering of an innocent man, it so clearly points us to Jesus, the innocent son of God. Jesus’ crucifixion would not be the end of his story, but ends in great victory through his resurrection. Psalm 22 may begin in great sorrow, but concludes in great praise and victory, following the patter of Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Praying the Psalms

Commentary

v. 1-5 - The psalm begins with a desperate and anxious question. Why does God seem so far away? Why does he seem so distant? Does God not hear the cries of the innocent? Can he not hear their groans in the dark of the night? The psalmist cries out day by day, night by night, but the Lord doesn’t answer. There is no rest.

We have all felt this way at some point in our Christian life. Where is God when it hurts? Just when we think we need him the most, he seems peculiarly absent in our lives. We may be in agony and anguish, but God doesn’t respond.

The psalmist has put his trust in the Lord continually. He knows that he is the holy one of God. His suffering casts no doubt on the goodness of God’s character. The psalmist knows that in the past, God answered the cries of the faithful of Israel. They trusted God, and were not point to shame.

Yet, the Psalmist is confused. He has grown up hearing about God’s faithfulness towards his people, but in his situation God seems to be absent? What seems to be the problem? So the psalmists is resolutely confident in God, but at the same time confused. Why is God absent for him, when God has intervened in the lives of so many others?

v. 6-18 - The psalmist then describes his condition. He is decimated and despised. He is rejected and scorned. He is mocked and taunted. To his enemies he is but a worm. His enemies scoff at his faith and taunt the Lord, “He trust sin the Lord; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!” (v 8) This psalmist is a man who is hated, but for no good reason. He is completely innocent and without faulty, yet he is despised and rejected by men.

Though he is jaded and barbed with the verbal spears of malicious foes, the psalmist trusts the Lord. He reflects on his trust in the Lord from the beginning. He has trusted continually in the Lord, even in his infancy, while he was at his mother’s breast. He has been wholly devoted to the Lord and innocent of these dehumanizing accusations.

Yet, the psalmist continues to be poured out like water. His bones are out of joint. His heart is melting under the duress of the persecution. His strength has dried up as he comes to lay in the dust of death.

The blood thirsty canine scavengers encircle him. They devour the weak as their prey. The count his bones to divide among them as they cast lots to divide his clothing. They pierce his hands and feet. These wicked men seek to take anything of value from this man and leave him in dehumanizing shame. They will not cease until they have turned this righteous and godly man into a worm.

As we read what this innocent man of Psalm 22 is going through, the images bring to our mind the crucifixion of our Lord. From the mocking at the cross—“If you are the son of God come down for there”, or “He saved others, but he cannot save himself!”—to the casting lots of his clothing, and to the piercing of his hands and feet, in all of it we see in Jesus.

Anyone who would have walked by Golgotha’s hill on that good Friday would have come to the conclusion that God has abandon this man. There is no way that God delights in him, because God has not rescued him. This is the way many of us think today. If God lets us incur a terrible fate, than either the problem must be in us or with God. Yet, throughout the Bible we see that God allows suffering to come upon the righteous in order to deliver them for the glory of his name. God uses the malicious intent of wicked men and turns it on its head. God is so sovereign that he is able to use depraved acts of violence to bring about an ultimate good.

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v. 19-21 - The sufferer cries out to God for help. Those his circumstances seem to swallow him up, his trust in the Lord is unfading. He calls out to the Lord, “Do not be far off! O you my help, come quickly to my aid!” This final desperate cry is one of deliverance and salvation.

When we are in similar situations, we too should pray and ask God for help. May our suffering never cause us to lose our confidence in God’s ability to rescue. Though he may seem far, he is near. Though he may seem incompetent, he is more than able. A crises of life should not become a crises of faith. Despite what this psalmist is going through, his trust in the Lord is resolute. So too should it be for all of God’s people.

v. 22-31 - As lament psalms do, this psalm concludes in praise. “For he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, and he has not hidden his face from him, but has heard, when he cried to him” (24). Those who trust in the Lord, place their trust rightly. God is reliable; he hears and responds to the desperate cries of his people. Though it might be delayed, rescue is coming. The result of that rescue leads to praise, satisfaction and joy. This rescue not only leads to the satisfaction and joy of the sufferer, but it leads to world wide praise to God!

All the peoples of the earth will worship before God. The Kingship belongs to the Lord, and he will reign forever. The result of this rescue is the worship of God’s name from generation to generation. Those yet to be born will one day hear of the righteousness that God has done.

As we think about Jesus’ cry on the cross, it is understood much deeper in light of the entire psalm. Yes, Jesus was in great suffering and agony as the innocent man who was pierced on that cross. At that moment of great suffering, God seemed distant and it appeared that God had abandon his son on the cross as Jesus bore the penalty of sin. Yet, God would not abandon his son, even in death. Though Jesus died, on the third day he would rise again to victory. Jesus’ death and resurrection is the center point of history. The entire earth must hear the good news of what Christ has done by dying in our place on the cross. The crucified son of God has been given the kingship that endures for ever. This good news has been told from generation to generation, to a people yet unborn.

The Gospel of Jesus has continued to be passed down from generation to generation. For two thousand years Christian moms and dads tell their children about the righteousness of God found in Jesus Christ. As Christians we must continue to proclaim to the next generation that the suffering son of God is the resurrected king and the savior of the world.

Prayer Guide

  • Have you ever felt abandon by God? Share your heartache honestly to the Lord.
  • Pray that God would give you the faith to trust him even when things go badly in your life.
  • Ask the Lord for deliverance from your enemies, particularly when you are suffering for righteousness sake.
  • Praise the Lord that God did not abandon Jesus, but raised him again on the third day.
  • Ask the Lord for opportunities to share the good news of Jesus with others.

Praying the Psalms: Psalm 18

The crescendo of victory reverberates as a joyous moment. David has spent many days frightened by his enemy, yet God would deliver him. The context of this psalm is important, it is almost an exact copy of the song of David from 2 Samuel 22 as David celebrates the victory God had given him over Saul. Yet, this personal song of David is included in the hebrew hymn book, indicating that the future prosperity of the people of God are tied to God's blessing on David and his offspring. As God's people would sing this psalm, it serves as a prayer for God to bless the line of David and grant their king victory. Praying the Psalms

Commentary

v. 1-3 - The psalm begins with a summary of the praise that will unfold. Interestingly, this Psalm concludes a section of psalms in which David is praying for deliverance against his enemies. (See Psalm 16, 17). The Psalm begins with David stating his love for the Lord. God has been a great rock and refuge for David. God protects like an impenetrable shield or a stronghold that can not crumble. Because David called on the Lord, God saved him from his enemies. The rest of the Psalm is a celebration of God's victory over David's enemies.

v. 4-6 - David begins to reflect how he had called on God in his most desperate moments. When the throngs of death surrounded him, when the torrents of destruction assailed him, and when the cords of Sheol ensnared him, he called out to God, his help. He calls out to God and the Lord heard the prayer of David.

One of the main applications we can make as we study these psalms of David, is his unwavering reliance on the Lord. In the moment of crises and desperation he is quick to get on his knees and go to his God. Shouldn't we do the same? Yet, whenever we find ourselves in crises, we quickly engineer a plan or vent our frustrations to a friend. How slow we are to simply get on our knees before God and pray for help!

v. 7-19 - These verses use vivid language to describe how God had delivered David from his enemies.  The imagery is extravagant and moves quickly from one metaphor to another. David describes God as a dragon riding swiftly to come to his aid (v. 10). Then he begins to describe God's arrival as a powerful storm filled with hailstones and fire as the thunder crackles (11-14). God drew David out of many waters, as his rescuer from his enemies.

The point David stresses in this vivid scenes is clear: God brought David his victory. David is helpless and surrounded, but God fought for David. God handled his enemies, and rescued him from their mighty hatred. So too does God single-handedly rescue us from our enemies, especially as we consider our greatest of enemies, sin and death. No power exerts such strength that the mighty hand of God cannot overcome.

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v. 20-30 - David then moves to claim his faithfulness to God during his difficult trial. He has kept the ways of the Lord; he kept the statutes of God, and was blameless before him. So the Lord rewarded David and delivered him. God loves the righteous and showers them in mercy. God shines as a  lamp to David, protecting him from his enemies and from sin. His love strengthens David as he follows the perfect way of God.

v. 31-45 - The Psalm begins to move to a great celebration of the work of God's victory. "For who is God, but the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God?" (31). God has been his refuge and has equipped him with strength. He has been his shield and God has given him his support. It is by the power of God that David has been granted victory and his enemies destroyed like a fine dust. God has brought victory to the divinely appointed king.

v. 46-50 - The Psalm concludes with an important reflection on God's faithfulness to his anointed King. David summarizes, "The Lord lives, and blessed be my rock, and exalted be the God of my salvation.” God has saved and delivered his anointed. God spared and rescued David from his enemies.

The last two verses serve as important reminders for us as we understand the flow of redemptive history. God brings great salvation to his king and shows love to his anointed. God has specifically chosen David and his offspring to bless and to bring about a blessing to others. As we look at the ways in which God rescued David from his enemies, God would rescue the greater David from his enemies. Many years down the road, another offspring of David would be anointed in the Holy Spirit as the divinely appointed King.

The God-man Jesus Christ was arrested and flung into the rushing waters of blood-thirsty men who sought his life. Yet, God was with his king. Through his flogging and crucifixion, God would not abandon his anointed. On the third day, God would raise his son to victory overcoming his enemies and conquering sin and death.

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Like Israel, our blessing is tied to God's blessing of the King. The victory of Jesus is our own victory, given to us by the mighty hand of God the Father. Through Jesus we share in his victory and we share in the glory of God's salvation as recipients of divine grace. God shows his steadfast love not only to his anointed, but to those who by faith submit their lives under his rule.

Prayer Guide

  • How has God brought you victory in your life? How has he crushed your enemies? Praise the Lord for his redemption.
  • Thank God that he honors those who by faith in Jesus seek to live righteously.
  • Praise the Lord for his power, greatness, and salvation.
  • Thank the Lord that he blesses his anointed, and that by faith we get to share in the blessed victory of Jesus Christ.

Praying the Psalms: Psalm 17

Have you ever been so frustrated and so hurt that all you can do is pray? Psalm 17 is a prayer of lament from King David. David is being attacked unjustly by another individual and he cries out to God in hope. How should Christians respond when we are unjustly criticized or accused of wrong doing? Well, as we look at psalm 17, David’s prayer will  help us learn to pray in such situations. Praying the Psalms

Commentary

v. 1-2 - David begins crying out to God in prayer, seeking his attention. David is again expressing personal suffering unjustly, accused by his enemies.  So, he cries out to God, the great arbiter of justice, to hear his plea and case. David comes before God to plea his case, because he trusts in the judgement and justice of God. God is not fooled by the deceitful lies and subtle twisting of tongues that so often dominates the judicial courts of humanity. God has no concern for popular consensus or opinion, rather God is a God of truth. David, knowing that he has been unjustly accused has confidence to go to God, the just judge, to get the account straight.

v. 3-5 - David then begins to plead his innocence before God. He tells God that he has tried his heart. God knows everything there is to know about David. Whether by day or by night, God has visited him and knows it all. David challenges God to examine him and he will find innocence. Though David is accused by others, he seeks God to have the final word. David's mouth has not transgressed. He has avoided the ways of the violent. His steps have held firm on the narrow path and have not slipped.

Now David's plea for innocence does not mean that David considered himself sinless, but rather David sees himself as seeking to live righteously under the law of God. The stones that his enemies are throwing at him for sin are unjust. There are no evidence for their accusations. David pleads his case as he has been examined by God and found innocence. The accusations have nothing to do with David's own life or character, but only from the malice of the enemies.

v. 6-9 - David then turns in this next stanza to pray and call out to God. He asks for God to incline his ear and hear his words.  He knows that God is a fitting refuge for him. God is a safe place to lean on in times of tribulation. He requests that God would protect him from his enemies. David knows that God is a safe place because God has his eye on him. Indeed David is the apple of his eye. David can safely reside in the shadow of God's wings. There is no safer place to be than in the arms of the living God. From those enemies that seek David harm and who surround him, God is a refuge for him.

v. 10-12 - David then begins to ponder on the malicious aggression of his enemies.  They have no pity; they only seek to devour. They are predators on the prowl. They surround like a pack of wolves, bent on bringing their prey to the ground. They are like lions lurking in the shrubs waiting to pounce and tear a part David's flesh.

Sometimes as Christians we will have enemies just like the ones David had. There is a hatred and an intention to destroy at any cost. As the church becomes increasingly marginalized in our country, we too will feel the deadly blood-thirst of our enemies as they plot our destruction. Sometimes following Christ, means making enemies, not because you are seeking to make them, but rather because following God runs contrary to the ways of the world. Therefore, men and women of evil and blindness begin to gather, lurk, and tear apart the people of God.

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v. 13-14 - Here, God is summoned for action. "Arise, O Lord! Confront him, subdue him!" This man who has such vicious hatred for David is to be taken out. David is crying out for deliverance from this man. Then the Psalm moves to some profound reflections on the nature of the wicked and the hope of the righteous. Men, who are like David's accuser, find hope only in this life. Though wicked men among us might be financially prosperous and wield great worldly success, that is the extent of their hope. Their portion is only in this life. Though they may have children, their riches cannot go with them to the grave. Their abundance is passed down to their children.

One of the great questions is the prosperity of the wicked? Why are so many wicked people so visibly prosperous while so many good and righteous people are in poverty? Well, David begins to look at things from God's perspective. Though the wicked might enjoy 70 years of wealth, comfort, and power, what is 70 years compared to 100 billion years? Even 100 billion is but a scratch on the surface to the unfathomable idea of eternity. David begins to recognize that his hope is not in a comfortable life now, but his hope is in a life to come.

v. 15 - David's confidence is found in God himself. He concludes his lament by reflecting on his true treasure. Though the wicked might have wealth and power, David’s hope is in the righteousness of God. Isn't that our hope as well? We don't need riches and we don't need comfort and we don't need fame. We need the righteousness of Jesus. We need God. And by the grace of God, His son is sent to liberate us from the bondage of sin and gift us with his righteousness! Our hope is not in this world, but in God himself.

So as David falls into the deep sleep of death, when he wakes he will be satisfied with likeness of God. We have this hope too. No matter what enemies might attack us, those made righteous by Christ set their hope on the life to come. Our reward is not temporal treasures, but the eternal and satisfying treasure of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Prayer Guide

  • What enemies are attacking you? Call out to God for help.
  • Ask God to help trust him as you refuge.
  • Ask God for strength and protection from the lions.
  • Trust in God’s wisdom in confronting and subduing your enemies.
  • Regardless of what happens, ask God to help you to find hope in Christ, not in this world.

Praying the Psalms: Psalm 13

Forgotten. We all have moments when we feel like God has abandoned us. Each of us will face dark days, when it seems like the present sufferings are unceasing. We take one punch after another and we long to collapse. Psalm 13 is a classic example of a psalm of lament. Psalms of lament are all over the psalter. Lament simply means complaint. The idea of lament can sound very uncomfortable to Christians today, because it can appear like a lack of faith and trust in God. In so many ways when crisis hits, we feel the pressure to put on plastic smiles and act like everything is ok. Is complaining against the Lord and expressing frustration appropriate for people of faith? Is there any room for lament in the Christian life? As we examine Psalm 13, I think we will discover the answer. IMG_0500

Commentary

v. 1-2 - The psalm begins with questions. Each question begins with the phrase "How long?” The question itself is not one necessarily looking for an informative answer, but David is expressing his anguish and feelings. David is laying his soul bare before God. He feels forgotten and that God has hid his face. He is in sorrow as his enemies exalt over him.

David's prayer is both bold and refreshing. Often we think that God is unable to handle our emotions, our grieving, and our sadness. David's prayer breathes true authenticity into our plastic and superficial Christianity. Yet, David expresses in these pounding questions his feelings of abandonment at God's apparent indifference to his circumstances. There are situations that we face that lead us to ask questions just like David. When our spouse continues to battle cancer for years we pray, "How long, O LORD?" When we experience the heartbreak of a wayward child rejecting Christ we weep, "How long, O LORD?" When we are laid off from our job and the bills are piling up we cry, "How long, O LORD?" When we stand over the casket of our child through the sorrow we whisper, "How long, O LORD?"

This broken world is filled with hardship and sorrows. In times of great sadness we can feel that the Lord is not near or that maybe he has forgotten. We feel abandoned and isolated as we are paralyzed by depression and anxiety. When we feel this way should we just ignore it? When we walk into the church should we hide our sorrow with a insincere glibness? I suggest not. Rather, we should follow the pattern that David lays out for us in this psalm. We should get on our needs and express our heartache and brokenness before the Lord. God knows how we are thinking and feeling better than we know ourselves. There is no emotion you can express to him in words that he does not already know.

As we will see in this Psalm, the expression of lament leads to healing, comfort, and ultimately worship. When we burry our emotions in a sea of fabricated pretense, we do not allow the Almighty to restore us with his presence. Like David we must go before God in prayer. It is often through prayer that God teaches us in his presence and renews us. When we hide our emotions and frustrations with God we rob ourselves of healing and God of his glory as he moves us from lament to praise.

v. 3-4 - David begins making petitions towards God. He asks the Lord for his attention, to consider him and answer him. He is asking the Lord to intervene in his depression. He feels so low he could die. He begs the Lord to lift up his eyes  and to help him in his moment of desperation. He prays for deliverance from his enemies which are causing him to be shaken with fear.

Through the ocean of emotions David is experiencing, he begins to ask God for help. Simply coming to God in lament is a sign of great faith. David is not lamenting to grumble in superiority towards God, rather he is lamenting because he is so dependent on God. His attitude is not disrespectful towards God, but he is incredibly honest with his thoughts and feelings. David in asking the Lord to address his depression is already beginning the process of healing. In that simple act of asking God for help, David is admitting that he is insufficient for this pit he has found himself. His prayer in these verses is an expression of trust in the God who can help him and deliver him.

v. 5-6 - As David is lamenting, and as he comes to God in prayer something begins to happen. As David lays himself bare  before the presence of God in prayer, God doesn't change David's circumstances, but he does change David. As we look at the final two verses the tone is remarkably different from the repetitious "How longs" in which this Psalm began. David in the presence of God is filled with resolve and confidence as he is renewed by God.

Now, instead of doubting God's presence in his life, David has turned to trust. His heart is no longer filled with sorrow, but now his heart is rejoicing in God's salvation. He has moved from complaint to praise. What explains this change? Well here we see the pattern of lament as laid on the Scripture. Biblical lament has a flow to it. Lament moves from complaint to praise. The process of lament changes the lamenter. As a man or woman comes before God in anxiety, that simple act of faith begins to change the person. It is not always immediate or even within the same day. Sometimes this process may be stretched for weeks or months, but when we go to the presence of God in our trouble, our sorrow will turn to joy.  Though our circumstances may not change, our rigorous prayer expresses a dependence on God in which God gives us a joyful contentment regardless of our present circumstances. In a similar way the apostle Paul in Philippians says something similar when writes, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Phil 4:6-7)

This is key for us to understand the Christian life. When we bring our anxiety to the Lord in prayer, that simple act of trust changes us as we express dependence on a God who knows all and is able to help. Even though the cancer may not go away and though our child remains in the casket, God by grace gives us a peace and a joyful contentment even in the pain.  As David says, he rejoices because God has dealt bountifully with me. Certainly God has dealt bountifully with every Christian. For in Christ, we have been given salvation from sin and death and are promised victory when he returns. The inheritance and glory waiting for us when we cross from life to death far outweighs our present sufferings, no matter how great they may be. As Paul writes, "For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison" (2 Cor 4:17).

Though God doesn't always promise us answers to our questions and though he may be silent on how long we must endure our present sorrow, we can trust that in our lamenting God gives us a supernatural trust to those who come before him in tears. And though we may cry out in our agony, "How long, O LORD?", we must remember the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, "Behold I am coming soon." (Rev 22:7)

Prayer Guide

  • What emotions and frustrations are you having with the Lord? Express them to him.
  • Ask the Lord to help you in your situation and to help you find trust in him through our sorrow.
  • Ask the Lord to give you joy and peace in light of the Gospel promises he has given you.

Praying the Psalms: Psalm 10

The Psalms are not just songs, but prayers. By studying the Psalms we can learn how to better pray and engage in communion with God. Each Thursday I’ll be posting a commentary and prayer guide for the Psalms to help us learn and practice prayer. Psalm 10 is a continuation of Psalm 9. The two are connected thematically. The two also share an acrostic patter in the writing that continues into Psalm 10. In addition, their is no subscription to Psalm 10, indicating it is a continuation from the previous psalm. Psalm 10 is largely focused one big question. Why does God allow the wicked to prosper and get away with it? It is a perplexing question that even the most devoted Christians wrestle with in understanding God. Indeed, we can’t fully understand. Psalm 10 is a humble inquiry into the mind and will of God that culminates in an unshakeable faith in the goodness and justice of God.

Commentary

v. 1–11 - The Psalm begins with a question. “Why, O Lord, do you stand far away?” If we are honest, in the present sufferings we face and in the wickedness of this world, it seems like God is absent. From the tyranny of Islamic terrorism to the rape and murder that floods the news or to the men and women who prosper in wealth by taking advantage of the weak, we cry out, “Where are you God?” The psalmist is wrestling with the same question that we wrestle with today. If God is completely in control and perfectly good, why does he allow evil to continue?

The psalmist spends the first half of this psalm describing the wicked who prosper. They take advantage of the poor. They are greedy in their lusts. They are proud and resist and reject the Lord. These wicked people openly mock the Lord stating “There is no God”. Yet, at least in the present, the wicked seem to continue to prosper at all times. Their unrestrained evil seems to continue with God not lifting a finger to do anything to put a stop to it. God’s judgments seem high and out of sight. The wicked perform such evil knowing that they will get away with it. They say in such proud self confidence, “I shall not be moved”.

The description against the wicked continues. They are filled with mischief and deceit. They ambush villages and murder anyone in their way. Like a lion on the prowl he keeps his eye always open for the weak, the runt, and the helpless to devour. The poor are drawn into a net for their own destruction. The helpless are crushed, sink down, and fall.

In v. 11, their is a stunning confession of the wicked man’s heart. He arrogantly states, “God has forgotten, he has hidden his face, he will never see it.” How many people today live just like this wicked man. They do things thinking no one will ever know, that they will never be found out, and that no one will ever see it. So many of us operate and live our lives thinking God is not watching. In summary, the wicked described in Psalm 10 are arrogant selfish brutes who take advantage of the weak and openly mock and defy God, yet the continue to prosper.

v. 12–15 - The reality of the wicked prospering is to much for the psalmist to watch. In v. 12, he turns to prayer begging God to arise and lift his hand. He is asking the Lord to do something and to intervene in the evil all around him. Yet, the psalmist affirms that though the wicked will say that God will not hold them accountable, the psalmist knows the truth. Even though the wicked think their evil deeds will never be revealed, God sees all. No matter their scheming and their deception, God knows. Every man secretly enjoying the perverse titillation of child pornography to the sexual trafficking taking place in a dark ally in India, God sees it all. Though wicked men think they are getting away with their evil deeds in secret, He sees their mischief and vexation. God does not turn a blind eye to evil. In fact, God knows the horrors and evil of this world better than any human being ever could.

Yet, God does not only see the evil of the wicked, he plans to take action. He is a God who protects the helpless and commits himself to their cause. Spiritually, we know this to be true. In Jesus’ arrival he came and surrounded himself with the weak and helpless. The Gospel of the kingdom came to the outcasts and oppressed in society. Jesus came to deliver us from our sins, and save us not only from our personal sins, but to restore this broken and fallen world from wicked men.

One day, Jesus will come back for his church and break the arm of the wicked and evildoer. Those who practice such evil, greed, murder, and oppression will one day stand before a holy and blameless God to give an account. Every secret motive of the heart and every evil action done in secret will be revealed. As Hebrews 4:13 tells us, “No creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account”. There is a coming day of judgement, and on that day justice will be administered. The wicked will one day be exposed, naked, before the frightening and terrifying holiness of the glory of God. Those not in Christ will find themselves cast away from his presence into the eternal death and torment in hell.

v. 16–18 - The Psalm concludes with an affirmation and trust in God’s just rule. God is King forever and ever. God hears the cry of the afflicted. He will bring about justice to the fatherless and to the oppressed.

By the end of the Psalm, though there is a celebration of God’s kingship, the question is not fully revolved. Yes, the wicked will one day be held to account, but why does God allow them now to prosper? Why is his judgement and justice delayed? Well there are a few reasons why the Scriptures tell us. One of them is that God is being merciful in delaying his judgement so that his kindness is meant to lead to repentance (Rom 2:4). If God was to execute all of his justice immediately the sin was committed, than no human being would be left in existence. God in his kindness delays his just wrath towards the wicked in order to give them an opportunity to repent and trust in Christ.

Yet, the question of why God allows evil acts to continue ultimately remains a mystery. We are not God and we are not sovereign. He is. Therefore, as we struggle sometimes as to why God seems to be so very far away in light of the evil we experience in our lives, we can trust knowing that he is a good God who knows all. We know that he hears the cause of the afflicted and he will one day hold the wicked account for their actions in the final judgement. In those moments of struggle, as we witness evil men and women prosper, we can rest assured that there is coming a day when Christ returns when the King of Kings will execute his perfect justice “so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.”

Prayer Guide

  • Express your concerns to God concerning the evil you witness.
  • Ask the Lord to intervene and bring justice in those situations
  • Praise the Lord that he knows all and is not ignorant of human evil.
  • Praise God for Jesus and for the day of his return to come quickly.
  • Express your concerns to God knowing that he hears the desire of the afflicted