A Psalm for Troubled Times: A Meditation in Psalm 94
Reading: Psalm 94
The book of Psalms engages the world as it really is; it has no Pollyanna view of the world. When celebrating victory, it sounds triumphant. When viewing injustice and evil, it describes with equal fervor the brokenness of this fallen world. Psalm 94 is a prayer from one saint as he viewed injustice and evil.
The psalmist cries to the Lord as the One who will right every wrong and deal with the evil in the world, resetting the scales of justice. He calls for Him to shine forth, rise up and pay back what is deserved by those who inflict evil (Psalm 94:1-2). He asks the question that is often on our minds, “How long will the wicked by jubilant?” (Psalm 94:3). In other words, “When will those who trounce the innocent get their due? When will the injustice stop?”
What is the Crime?
What is the evil these oppressors have inflicted?
They crush your people, LORD; they oppress your inheritance. They slay the widow and the foreigner; they murder the fatherless. (Psalm 94:5-6)
They are doing wicked deeds to God’s people, murdering foreigners (Is this a version of ethnic cleansing?), and murdering the fatherless. While ISIS is murdering God’s people, Abortion Clinics murder the fatherless. (If you have any doubt about the wicked intent of abortion providers watch this). These evils come into the world in cycles. Injustice and killing are followed by God’s judgment and a time of respite. Thankfully, one day God’s judgment will come once and for.
Verse 7 states how they rationalize their actions. “The Lord does not see; the God of Jacob takes no notice.” They believe the God of Jacob, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus, does not see. They are either unbelieving or they don’t think he pays attention. They are wrong (Psalm 95:8-11).
What Truth Must We Know?
Robert Alter translates verse 11, “The LORD knows human designs, that they are mere breath.” All the schemes of the wicked will be short-lived. But there is a period of waiting involved. Waiting until the day comes when God will balance the books. A day will come when a pit is dug for the wicked, meaning they will caught in a trap which the Lord will set (Psalm 94:13).
Not only will wicked schemes be short-lived, there is something else we must know. A day will come when righteousness or justice will return to judgment (Psalm 94:15). In other words, when laws will once again be righteous and protect the innocent from the wicked. Ultimately, that day comes in the reign of the Messiah Jesus Christ. But it comes in small ways when earthly governments come into line with God’s ways and make just laws. In the mean time, is there any help?
Who Will Stand Up for Me?
Who will rise up for me against the wicked? Who will take a stand for me against evildoers? (Psalm 94:16)
Who is speaking here? There is no reason to think the speaker has changed, especially given the answer supplied in verse 17.
Unless the LORD had given me help, I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death.(Psalm 94:16)
The psalmist himself is suffering injustice. The psalmist himself is one of those in verses 12-13 who is blessed because, even though his current experience is discipline, he awaits the day that the wicked will be the ones in the pit and God will have restored him. Meanwhile, he cries out for help. He cries out for someone to stand up against wrong-doers on his behalf.
In the times that wickedness rules, the righteous are often hard to find. Our Lord himself knows what this is like. On the night when the wicked condemned the Innocent One to death, His followers were nowhere to be found (Matthew 26:31-35).
The psalmist’s question, “Who will rise up for me against the wicked? Who will take a stand against evildoers?” implies that to do so is righteous. His question indicates the solution. Indeed, whatever we do for the least of these we do for the Savior, and when we fail to stand up for the least, we fail to do it for the Savior (Matthew 25:40, 45).
This question serves as a perennial call to the people of God to stand up on behalf of those whose lives are at risk because of the wickedness of the wicked. It is a call for Christians not to sit by silently while others are raped, imprisoned, and killed by wicked rulers. This includes the millions of innocent babies are being slaughtered in our own cities. “Unless the Lord had given me help…” is a reminder that when we stand up and help, the Lord is giving them help through us.
What Does God Think about Wicked Laws?
Psalm 94 speaks to the other side of the coin which we have in Romans 13:1. There government is ordained and established by God. That chapter speaks of the proper role of government in our lives. Psalm 94 shows us that Romans 13:1 is not absolute, meaning that God doesn’t ordain governments to do all that they do. There comes a point at which God stands against them (Psalm 94:20-23).
Can wicked rulers be allied with you, those who frame injustice by statute? (Psalm 94:20 ESV)
This is a rhetorical question. The answer is clearly, “No.” When a nation has laws that kill the innocent, or that destroy people groups, or crush God’s people because they are God’s people, then these rulers are not allied with God. When they create trouble by law, they cease to fill the role which God ordained those governments to fill (Romans 13:4).
What Must We Do?
What are we to do? We are to stand for and with the innocent and the oppressed. And we are to pray…. pray for and with the innocent and the oppressed. Prayer is the place where the people of God are to wait as we cry together, “How long, LORD, will the wicked, how long will the wicked be jubilant?” (Psalm 94:3). I close with one of my favorite quotes on prayer.
“To clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world.” Karl Barth
Love the Gospel, Live the Gospel, Advance the Gospel,