Saturday, July 9, 2005

The Wickedness of Men and the Faithfulness of God

An oracle within my heart concerning
    the transgression of the wicked:
  There is no fear of God before his eyes,
For he flatters himself in his own eyes,
  When he finds out his iniquity and when he hates.
The words of his mouth are wickedness and deceit;
  He devises wickedness on his bed;
He sets himself in a way that is not good;
  He does not abhor evil.
(Psalm 36:1-4)
There is nothing new about wickedness. It’s been around since the Fall. It begins when we get out of joint with God — no fear of the Lord, no honor and respect for His ways. But we were made to worship, and when we do not worship God, we begin to worship ourselves. When we take the focus off of God, we invariably focus all our attention on ourselves.

Disconnected from God and His thoughts, we start to manufacture our own thoughts. Instead of speaking the Word of God, by which the whole universe came into existence, we start speaking our own self-absorbed words. They have no faith to them because faith comes by the Word of God. Nor do they contain the wisdom of God. All that is left is fear, hate and evil.

The heart begins to feed on its own darkness, plotting, scheming, devising wickedness. It becomes hardened, hating and despising good rather than evil.

David has given us an apt description of the wicked. But now he moves onto the second part of his psalm, and the reason for his praise — the brilliance of God’s faithfulness and the perfections of His goodness toward those who love and trust Him. It is a completely different tune:
Your mercy, O LORD, is in the heavens;
  Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the great mountains;
  Your judgments are a great deep;
O LORD, Your preserve man and beast.
(Psalm 36:5-6)
The mercy of God is through the roof! It is the will of God being done on earth as it is in heaven. The faithfulness of God extends from earth to heaven like an impenetrable curtain surrounding us. The rightness of God is like the great mountains in its awesomeness — it cannot be shifted one inch. His judgment runs deep, setting things right at the very foundations of the world. This spells out salvation and deliverance for all who look to Himwho have the fear of the LORD before their eyes — and destruction for all who do not.

But as wonderful as that is, David has only told half. He has spoken about the character of God as woven through Creation. Now he turns his pen toward the goodness of God as expressed in Covenant.
How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God!
  Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings.
They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house,
  And You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures.
For with You is the fountain of life;
  In Your light we see light.
(Psalm 36:7-9)
The lovingkindness (Hebrew hesed, the steadfast, immovable love) of God goes beyond excellence. It is exceedingly precious and valuable. All who have been touched by it and trust Him completely — they are in covenant relationship with Him. He is their God; they are His people. He takes care of them completely — they are abundantly satisfied with the abundance of His provision (abundance multiplied by abundance). Nothing in His house is held back from them.

Not only are their needs well taken care of, He also satisfies the desires of their hearts. For He gives them drink from the river of His delights. They drink their fill and become drunk on the wonders of His love. He is the fountain of life, and the light that causes us to see and understand.

At first, the description David gave of the wicked might have seemed a little imposing and fearful, like the recent terrorist attacks in London. But now with the description He gives us of the faithfulness of God, the wicked become a quickly fading memory. For the wickedness of the wicked is consumed by the glory of God’s goodness and power. David has given us the true perspective. The passion of God burns forever; the wicked and their wickedness soon become as dying embers.

So David does the math and brings the goodness of God to bear against the wickedness of men:
Oh, continue Your lovingkindness to those who know You,
  And Your righteousness to the upright in heart.
Let not the foot of pride come against me,
  And let not the hand of the wicked drive me away.
There the workers of iniquity have fallen;
  They have been cast down and are not able to rise.
(Psalm 36:10-12)
Here is our answer in these days of terrorist attacks. Do not let them instill fear. Trust in the LORD and enjoy His protection, His provision — and even His pleasures. As for the workers of iniquity, they have already fallen. They will soon realize that they have been cast down and are not able to rise. It is only a matter of time.

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