At times, most of us have felt as if G-d is distant from us. Although we know in our heads that He is always with us (Deut 31:8) we may not feel like He is at that time. Feelings can be fickle and deceptive, and are not necessarily based on fact/truth. At these times in our lives what should we do?
1. Cling to the Word and truth of G-d -this is how we have our perspectives changed.
2. Don’t base our feelings on what is going on around us. We need to be governed by the truth of G-d and not by our feelings.
Inscription – this psalm has no inscriptions – i.e. It was not sung in the community. This is a private and personal matter -between us and G-d (an interesting question to explore would be: Why is this so?).
v1: The author begins this psalm with the word ‘Why?” This is such a common question in difficult times, and one that we usually will not get an answer to. Normally when things are going well we just assume G-d is with us. G-d doesn’t change His position dependant on our circumstances.
· Stand afar – he feels alone, abandoned by G-d.
· Hide – He feels as though G-d has become invisible. He was there, and then He feels as if He disappeared. For those of us who are IN Messiah this would be poor theology. The outcome of redemption is intimacy with G-d – whether our senses agree with us or not.
v2: Wickedness and pride go together. When we are proud we behave wickedly – putting others (in this verse: the poor, the vulnerable) down. Prideful people do not love others as they love themselves.
· Persecuting = causing them to be afflicted, to suffer. Those who have lack are easily exploited.
· The wickedness (violation of the commandments) of the wicked is a catalyst for their own demise.
v3: Boasts: The wicked are happy and praise their wickedness rather than praising G-d.
· His heart’s desire – his passion/lusts.
· Blesses the greedy – the wicked love getting profit
v4: Does not seek G-d – he does not have an expectation of that which is right. He doesn’t want to do good, instead does what is right in his own eyes. He doesn’t expect anything from G-d, because in his plans he has not taken into account that there is a G-d (Ps 14:1)
v5: We have to be careful because there are two ways of understanding this verse: parts of it referring to G-d, or parts of it referring to the wicked one?
· His ways…always prospering: Many commentators see this as referring to G-d, but others say it refers to the wicked one and is a warning – it is dangerous to succeed when you are in opposition to the things of G-d, because success causes you to be more prideful.
· Your judgment – this is a reference to G-d’s judgement. It doesn’t even enter into the wicked man’s mind that judgement has been reserved for him.
· He sneers – This could be referring to G-d, but is more likely referring to the wicked man. He thinks he has succeeded because of all he has etc and he thinks less of those he considers his enemies – those who are living in a righteous way (often, from a human perspective, not seen as a prosperous/successful way)
v6: This verse is undeniably speaking about the wicked one. He is immoveable (nothing can change him), and he thinks he will never have to deal with trouble.
v7: Oppression – violence. His mouth is committed to these things as he uses his mouth to get what he wants – at all cost. If anyone stands in his way he destroys them with his troublesome and iniquitous tongue.
v8: He ambushes people to get what he wants.
· The innocent – he wants to destroy those who are right with G-d as he doesn’t want anyone standing in opposition to him.
· Why would a wealthy person have an eye on the poor, on the helpless, the weak? Power?
v9: He is cognitive in his wickedness – he’s got a plan.
v10: He is purposely, with intent, going after the ones who are the most vulnerable. This is in the character of satan. This is NOT G-d’s way – who is the defender of the weak and the helpless, the orphan and the widow.
v11: He thinks G-d is not going to act, as G-d’s judgement is often not immediate but is delayed.
v12: Now we go back to the thoughts and cry of the author of this psalm. He is asking G-d to remember and to act.
v13: The wicked revile the judgment of G-d. They defiantly think that they will get away without accountability. More and more individuals today, because they want to live unrighteously, identify themselves as atheists, or simply don’t believe in the G-d of the Bible.
v14: G-d does see everything and there will eventually be an accounting and a punishment.
· The impoverished (helpless) turn to G-d.
v15: “Break the arm” is an idiom. Arm is synonymous with power and with deeds.
· Find none – there is no future for the wicked man. He will not have an eternity of being known, but he will have an eternity of condemnation.
v16: The nations – those who have no covenantal relationship with G-d.
· Out of His land – they won’t benefit from the things that G-d has made.
v17: When this psalm started the author felt abandoned, he felt alone, and that G-d was distant from him. But in this verse we see a change. He is now speaking confidently and with faith. What changed? Why did his perspective change after his monologue about the wicked?
v18: When G-d hears and when G-d moves He is going to remove from humanity those who bring terror/fear into it – those who oppress others. Those who do not love others as they love themselves.
Note: This verse gives us an indication of the problem of the psalmist – he was fearful. When we are fearful it distorts our perspective. It’s only with G-d, knowing G-d’s truth, that we will see things properly again. As we remember G-d’s nature and promises we need to realize that if we are having a bad experience it’s only a matter of time until G-d brings a change. Keep on persevering and holding on to truth!