“Read More” to pursue answers in the Psalms.
that I might know you as you are, and manifest the image of Christ in this world,
and the world to come. Amen.
As so often happens, this Psalm begins with David crying out to God for rescue. Intriguingly, though he doesn’t start by asking for rescue per se, but just a response. Why does he fear silence?
lest, [if] thou be silent to me, I become like them that go down into the pit.
Pit here seems more like a dungeon than hell, but either way I can understand his aversion! What’s interesting is that David doesn’t seem to worry whether God’s can save him, just whether he is heard:
Hear the voice of my supplications, when I cry unto thee, when I lift up my hands toward thy holy oracle.
Though, “worry” may be too strong a word, since he seems confident enough to speak his requests:
What’s interesting about this request is that he draws a sharp distinction between himself and the wicked, who:
* speak peace to their neighbours, but mischief [is] in their hearts
* …regard not the works of the LORD, nor the operation of his hands
And what punishment does David ask for them?
Give them according to their deeds, and according to the wickedness of their endeavours: give them after the work of their hands; render to them their desert
There’s seems to be a fairly intricate system of justice underlying David’s reasoning here. If had to pick one phrase that characterized his “wicked”, it would be “denial of accountability”. That is, what makes them wicked is not merely than they plan mischief, but that they do it deceptively; not merely than that they are unaware of God’s works, but deny its relevance. In other words, they don’t want to anyone else to know or judge what they are doing.
And what is the price for their folly?
he shall destroy them, and not build them up.
Ouch. Severe, but — under this definition — entirely fair. Moreover, thought of this “happy ending” seems to reassure David:
Blessed [be] the LORD, because he hath heard the voice of my supplications.
In a sense, this ties into one of the questions I failed to answer in my last DiaBlogue: is there a single moral choice that determines our eternal destiny, versus just a weighing of good and evil? From this Psalm, I would say “yes”, and that choice is whether or not we face our accountability to God — what Proverbs would call “the fear of the Lord.”
The wicked are those who avoid accountability to man, and deny accountability to God — in a sense, setting themselves up as gods over their own domain. For such men, it is easy to imagine them inheriting a hell of their own creation.
In contrast, David turns to the Lord as his God, and trusts in his salvation and dominion:
The LORD [is] my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him.
Moreover, this is both why and how he can live happily ever after with other people, because they are all mutually submitted to God:
The LORD [is] their strength, and he [is] the saving strength of his anointed.
Which, more than just his own salvation, is David’s ultimate desire:
Save thy people, and bless thine inheritance: feed them also, and lift them up for ever
Amen, Lord, so be it!
God, in my saner and wiser moments, there is nothing I want more than to dwell in your presence, hear your voice, and share in your bounty with those I love, and all who love you. Alas, I too often walk in the ways of the wicked, seeking to hide my shame and deny my obligation to you and your works. Father, I confess that you have blessed me concretely and abundantly far beyond anything i could ask, imagine, or deserve. I admit my debt to you, and your claim upon me and my obedience. Lord, teach me the joy and power of true submission, that I may walk in your ways, and drink of your holiness. Not just for my salvation, but that all may taste of it with me. I ask this in Jesus name, Amen.
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