Variation on a theme – at its root, seeming unhindered advance of evil and evildoers. Not an us-against-them rant, how come it’s all clear sailing for them and so tough for us. Is a cry for justice, for triumph of good over evil. A theme that for many years was common in entertainment, a big seller – music, movies, comic books.
(4) If crime is depicted it shall be as a sordid and unpleasant activity. (5) Criminals shall not be presented so as to be rendered glamorous or to occupy a position which creates a desire for emulation. (6) In every instance good shall triumph over evil and the criminal punished for his misdeeds. (Code Of The Comics Magazine Association Of America, Inc., Adopted October 26, 1954)
All mankind because of being made in image of God have true sense of right and wrong, justice and injustice, good and evil. How they use that sense is different matter, source of much that is wrong with world.
Rom. 1:32Although they know full well God’s just sentence–that those who practice such things deserve to die–they not only do them, but even applaud others who practice them.
So what about evil, evildoers, and their cheering section? Do we just have to suck it up and deal? take it as inevitable part of life?
“God cannot be true to his character of holiness and justice if he allows sin and rebellion to go unpunished. He is not only, the God of wrath, but must be the God of wrath in order for his mercy to have meaning. …he avenges his people in the sense that he becomes their champion against the common enemy (Psa 94).” TWOT
Heb. 10:28-31Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses.How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace?For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.”It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
“While vengeance often has negative connotations in our society, in the OT it has a positive thrust. Of all the uses of these words in the OT, God is the subject about 85 percent of the time. Taking vengeance is his prerogative (Deut. 32:35). When God does avenge something, however, it does not derive from a desire to even a score because of outrage or anger (as so often happens in human vengeance; …rather, it arises out of his sense of justice.” William Mounce
When we think of God carrying out vengeance, should really be expecting God to be God, to act according to his character. Psalm opens with plea for God to act; then follows reasons why God should move on behalf of his people; closes with statement of confidence that God will bring about right end.
A. God, help v.1-7
who is addressed (1)
covenant-making and keeping all-powerful God – Judge, who is standard of justice and ultimately requires/maintains conformity to justice; the One who (in big picture) receives glory when good is done, is offended when evil is done; has vested interest in making certain perfect justice is carried out
what is requested (2-3)
push back evil, keep it from progressing unchecked – when civil authority fails to do its job, time for God to step in; especially when it is “keepers” of justice who are behaving wickedly
why it’s needed (4-7)
aren’t victimless crimes, not just evildoers who lose out – ones most seriously affected by success of the wicked are special interest groups
ones God has particular concern for: his people, widows and orphans, non-resident aliens – are easiest to oppress, least likely to have an advocate; hence, God’s insistence they be treated justly, speaks strongly on their behalf
Deut. 27:19“‘Cursed be anyone who perverts the justice due to the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow.’
Psalm 68:5Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.
have convinced themselves they can act with impunity; since they don’t see any consequences coming, must not be any; besides, God doesn’t exist anyway so he can’t act
B. God knows v.8-11
denial doesn’t change reality (8)
peek-a-boo – you can’t see me – child thinks because he can’t see something, it doesn’t exist; “atheist”, the wicked try same argument, show their lack of wisdom and understanding (or failure to use what they have)
reality is many things we accept as true and real cannot be directly perceived with five senses; many more things cannot be fully understood, but still acknowledge their presence
the Creator sees and hears (9)
the one who made the senses cannot be more limited in his perceptions than one with those senses
absolutely anything and everything we can acquire through our senses already known to God….and more
the source of all knowledge knows all things (10-11)
prolific British author, wrote and argued against existence of God for 50 years, changed his mind – because of information and resulting knowledge
people have knowledge they could never have acquired, all information in universe had to come from someplace, including information encoded in inanimate or non-rational things – God is only explanation that satisfied Anthony Flew
evil and evildoers cannot be hidden from God; his seeming inactivity not from lack of knowledge
mankind knows neither means nor schedule by which God will execute justice – may bring about retribution in either this life or next; may choose to be gracious and convert evildoer, having already executed justice in Christ
C. God is near v.12-15
is close enough by to bless – not Deist “god” of Tony Flew, others, distant and uninvolved in mankind’s affairs
by instruction (12)
think about how much we know, take for granted, is found only in Bible – salvation, life after death, purpose in suffering, God’s love / grace / mercy, Lord Jesus’ glorious triumph at the end, rules for living – truly a gift from God
with protection (13)
as hard as life is at times, could be way more difficult; is what it is because of boundaries God has placed on evil and evildoers
the wicked are free to do as they choose within God-established limits until he chooses to end their liberty
will stay near (14)
God has invested too much in his people to abandon them – gave what was most precious to him, his Son – forsaking his people demeans value of Jesus’ work of redemption, diminishes size of his inheritance; besides,….he promised
Heb. 13:5-6Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”
and ultimately prevail (15)
God himself, the righteous Judge, will oversee last chapter of this age – if justice has miscarried in any way, God will set all things perfectly right
God’s just character guarantees his action as final Judge; promise of Lord Jesus’ return for that purpose what gives us hope, courage to endure suffering
D. God will deliver v.16-19
will defend his people against evildoers (16-17)
God instituted civil government to stand up for righteous and punish evildoers; is certainly acceptable for Christian to take advantage of lawful means for protection, securing justice
when that fails, then what? when civil authority can’t or won’t push back evil? not justified to become law to ourselves, carry out vigilante justice
truly hopeless situation unless / until God himself intervenes to sustain the righteous
will support his people by his faithful love (18)
voice of experience speaking here: has happened before, will happen again – begin to lose confidence, direction, God moves to help; “Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus…how I’ve proved him”
will soothe his peoples’ troubled souls (19)
provides not only comfort so we can deal with anxiety, enables us to delight in God in our circumstances
2 Cor. 1:5 For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.
E. God will repay v.20-23
is impossible for God to tolerate evil (20)
Rom. 13:1 For there is no authority except by God’s appointment, and the authorities that exist have been instituted by God.
does not mean that God sanctions the evil his appointed authorities practice; to do so would violate his righteous and just character
evil and injustice have not been redefined (21)
even if earthly authority declares evil to be good – abortion, gambling, homosexual marriage, e.g. – doesn’t change God’s absolute standard of good / evil, right / wrong
God hasn’t changed (22)
another source of comfort for the righteous, of hope for the oppressed – God is still God, faithful to his nature and decrees and promises
he will do what is just (23)
evil will not go unpunished in the big picture – either the evildoer or a fit substitute must satisfy God’s demand for justice; how and when the evildoer is required to pay up is God’s prerogative
If injustice bothers us (and it should) and we desire to live in a just world (and we should), this psalm a good one to pray. Lord, push back evil, bring about justice, punish those who persist in wilful rebellion, convert those who turn to Christ in faith, show your glory and delight our souls. Meanwhile, God Will Take Care of You