Monday, 23 August 2010

Bible Gateway verse of the day: Psalm 94:18-19

The Bible Gateway verse of the day is Psalm 94:18-19:
When I said, “My foot is slipping,” your love, O Lord, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.
What caused the Psalmist to utter these words? The answer lies in his difficult circumstances. The one whose foot slips has experienced calamity (Dt 32:35; Ps 8:16). No wonder he is in great anxiety!
And what is the cause? The answer, in the first instance, is the wicked — specifically the wicked who get away with their wickedness (vv 3-7). They say, “The Lord does not see; the God of Jacob pays no heed”, (v 7) because their wickedness meets no obvious response from God. “Rise up,” says the Psalmist (v 2), “pay back” those who are jubilant, arrogant and full of boasting, as they crush and oppress God’s people (his inheritance), ruthlessly targeting those whom the Lord deems especially worthy of his care: the widow, the alien the fatherless (v 6).
As we contemplate the world today, ought we not to feel the same concern? Yet do we not also feel a hint of the same anxiety felt by the Psalmist, the same sense of disorientation, as people mock with impunity the apparent absence of action on God’s part?
We want to say with the Psalmist, God knows, God hears, God sees, God punishes, God corrects (vv 8-10). But we have so little evidence for this. Therefore we must learn faith and patience, and the value of God’s discipline (v 12). One day, “Judgment will again be founded on righteousness, and all the upright in heart will follow it” (v 15), but meanwhile it is hard to stand against the evildoers armed only with our faith in God (v 16).
Yet the very fact that we can continue to do this is evidence of God’s help, without which we “would soon have dwelt in the silence of death” (v 17).
And so the Psalmist can praise God, as he does in vv 18-19.
Nevertheless, the opposition is powerful, potentially going to the very top: the “corrupt throne” which “brings on misery by its decrees”. And does this not also remind us of our own circumstances in an increasing post-Christian culture? We may easily fear the outcome of v 21: “They band together against the righteous ...”.
Our only answer is reliance on God and faith for the future:
But the Lord has become my fortress, and my God the rock in whom I take refuge. He will repay them for their sins and destroy them for their wickedness; the Lord our God will destroy them. (vv 22-23)
With this in mind, we must remain faithful, remembering the warning of Hebrews 10:37-39,
For in just a very little while, “He who is coming will come and will not delay. But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.” But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.
John Richardson
23 August 2010
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