Friday, December 16, 2011

Psalm 10

Psalm 10
A psalm about God's social justice

"Why do You stand afar off, O LORD? Why do You hide in times of trouble?" (verse 1)

       Have you ever entered the throne room of God just to register a complaint? Well, David has a complaint, and its about what he perceives as God's lack of action in cases of injustice. Perhaps you too have felt frustrated as you've watched, or maybe even experienced, some evil taking place that you had no power to prevent. 
      Your heart cried out for God to intervene, to put a stop to what was happening, but silence seemed to be heaven's reply. Have you ever felt like David? Angry and confused about God's goodness when faced with a travesty of evil? Let us do what David did, and pour out our hearts before the Lord, giving Him room to act according to His righteousness. God can take it.

"The wicked in his pride persecutes the poor; let them be caught in the plots which they have devised. For the wicked boasts of his heart's evil desire; he blesses the greedy and renounces the LORD. The wicked in his proud countenance does not seek God; God is in none of his thoughts." (verse 2-4)

      David has begun his official complaint; he paints us a provocative word picture in describing the character and conversation of wicked men. In all three verses pride is referenced as a chief characteristic of the ungodly:
       -In selfish schemes, the wicked man legally steals from the impoverished, proudly rejoicing in his cunning and deceit (vs. 2). 
       -He self-assuredly brags about his ambitions and honours those who have become rich through oppression, rejecting any accountability to God (vs.3). 
      -His entire existence, thought life, and lifestyle all reflect his all-consuming focus on himself (vs.4) Proud and self-centered, the wicked man lives as a god unto himself. 
      David continues his descriptive complaint...

"His ways are always prospering; Your judgments are far above, out of his sight; as for all his enemies, he sneers at them. He has said in his heart, 'I shall not be moved; I shall never be in adversity.' His mouth is full of cursing and deceit and oppression; under his tongue is trouble and iniquity. 
He sits in the lurking places of the villages; in the secret places he murders the innocent; his eyes are secretly fixed on the helpless. He lies in wait secretly, as a lion in his den; he lies in wait to catch the poor; he catches the poor when he draws him into his net. So he crouches, he lies low, that the helpless may fall by his strength. 
He has said in his heart, 'God has forgotten; He hides his face; He will never see.'" (verses 5-11)

      Oh, the righteous anger that stirs within my own chest in reading of such unchecked evil!  David notes that these wicked men seem impervious to both the laws of men and of God. They can get away with anything, even murder, without consequence. Rather than reaping the terrible fruit of what they have sown, they instead seem to only get richer, prouder, and more brazen. 
      They sneer at those who expose their evil, for they feel untouchable. Deceived by the apparent success of their wicked plots, they believe their sins will never catch up with them, not even after death. They see God's inaction as either weakness or blindness, and continue to heap up for themselves wrath, as they continue to rob the innocent and murder the just.
      I cannot help but to remember the slave trade of North America, so few years ago, or the Holocaust in Eastern Europe, just decades ago, or the child sex trafficking alive and happening, even now, all over the world! Such evil is not forgotten by God, yet still it continues, as does David's complaint...

"Arise, O LORD! O God, lift up Your hand! Do not forget the humble. Why do the wicked renounce God? He has said in his heart, 'You will not require an account.' But You have seen, for You observe trouble and grief, to repay it by Your hand. 
The helpless commits himself to You; You are the helper of the fatherless. Break the arm of the wicked and the evil man; seek out his wickedness until You find none." (verses 12-15)

      David's complaint climaxes with this cry for justice. He is saying in essence, "You see; You know; You hear... so DO something!" He points out that the wicked perceive God's forbearance towards them as a license to do evil, and pleads with God to uphold the humble and helpless. David then recalls God's fatherly nature, protecting those who have no earthly protector, and begs God to "break the arm" of the wicked, meaning that He should prevent them from "reaching out" to do any more evil. 
       Notice that his address to the Lord is less accusatory now than it was at the start. Somewhere in the midst of his plea, it seems he remembers just Who he is talking to. God, the good, the just, the loving, the protecting, the merciful, the gracious, the powerful GOD. 
      In remembering who His God is, David grows in confidence that his prayer will be not only heard, but answered, as well. He boldly tells God to cut off their wicked schemes forever, thoroughly purging away all their evil. Such is a prayer of faith in a just God... his God, our God, the only God. 
      When we focus our eyes upon the LORD, amidst all our anger, confusion, fear, and emotional turmoil, our peripheral vision becomes clearer. We now see all things in light of who He is, and our confusion is clarified, the anger melts away, and our fears dissipate in the face of Jesus Christ. 
       He knows about each and every injustice done to man, from the beginning of time until this very moment, and can even see all that will sadly yet transpire. It was with this all in mind and in heart, that He submitted Himself to the cross to die. Jesus bore our sin and our pain in His own blameless body and soul. 
      He died for all my sin, your sin, and the sin of every man born on this earth. He bore the guilt for every crime against God and humanity upon Himself, as if He were the one guilty of those sins. He literally died in my place as the criminal I am before God. I have never killed a man, but I have hated in my heart. I am guilty of murder. I have never been unfaithful to my husband, but I have lusted. I am guilty of adultery. I have never owned a slave to serve my every selfish whim, but I have shopped at stuff-mart and own many things made by slave labour. I am guilty. 
      The truth is, God is just. Too just for most of us. We crave justice for others, but beg mercy for ourselves. How can the two coincide in God together? In the person of Jesus Christ. He took our just punishment upon Himself and extended to us the mercy that is His alone to offer.  Jesus is the answer to injustice. The only answer.

"The LORD is King forever and ever; the nations have perished out of His land. LORD, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will prepare their heart; you will cause Your ear to hear, to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, that the man of the earth may oppress no more." (verses 16-18)

      David all at once remembers the end of the story. God will judge the wicked and restore the earth to righteousness and peace, Himself ruling the earth as King from Jerusalem. With his eyes now set upon God, David sees the present injustice in light of all eternity. This life is but a blip in the map of time. Just a flash, a whisper. David elsewhere declares man to be but a vapour, a puff of smoke, seen for just a moment and then vanishing into thin air (Psalm 39). 
      Having been raised in the university generation, I was brought up with the mindset that a preparatory education, no matter the cost in time, money, and energy, was well worth the fulfilling and lucrative career that it would in time yield. In other words, it is wise to endure several years of hard work, study, and student poverty for the rich reward of a recognized degree which would in turn open the doors to the American Dream. And many will attest to the value of following such wisdom. 
      It is indeed tempting to idle away those first adult years in travel, or to start making money right away at any old job, or to take a break from responsibility and live off your parents for a while. But as all successful degree wielding people know, the "sacrifice" is well worth the financial security and prosperity it yields them the rest of their life. 
      The equation is simple. Four years sacrifice for fifty plus years wealth. Yet, the equation seems dim regarding eternity to many. The ungodly see only the "now," and forget that God will require an account. Those who cling to their own righteousness and right to self-govern during this short life, forfeit an eternity where "in His presence is fullness of joy and at His right hand are pleasures forevermore." (Psalm 16:11 ) Practically speaking, is it not a better investment to surrender these short, fallen seventy or so years for untold billions of years in a perfect eternity? 
      Today, if you have yet to do so, place your trust in Jesus Christ. This life, evil or good, is passing It could end tomorrow; are you ready?
      God is just, more just than man could ever be in all his humanitarian attempts at social justice. It is right, of course, to stand for what is right and do good at every opportunity. This is the natural outflow from the life of a follower of Jesus. True and undefiled religion to is to help widows and orphans in their time of trouble (James 1:27) 
      I believe in compassion ministries and financially support several of the best, as well as reaching out in my own city to the destitute and needy. However, there is coming a day when Jesus Christ will return in the clouds and every eye will see Him and every knee will bow. He will rule the earth in true righteousness and justice. 
      Until then, we are called first and foremost to spread the good news of redemption to a lost and dying world. Compassion and social justice are means of communicating God's love to the world, but must never become confused with the gospel message itself. As a friend of mine always says, "Only heaven's heaven!" or as Jesus taught His disciples to pray, "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven."(Matthew 6:10)  Amen. Maranatha! Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

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