December 30, 2021
Scripture: The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds; there is none who does good. …There they are in great terror, for God is with the generation of the righteous. You would shame the plans of the poor, but the LORD is his refuge. Psalm 14:1, 5-6 ESV
Observation: Psalm 53 (also a Psalm of David) replicates Psalm 14 with minor variations. Its repetition implies that David carried strong feelings about godless evildoers who oppressed God’s people and the helpless. David contends that their sinful actions do not go unnoticed by the Lord (verse 2) and then notes an intriguing dynamic: they collectively become corrupt (verse 3). The implication? They encourage each other to continue their reckless course of action. Then, in verse 4, David raises a rhetorical question: “Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers who eat up my people as they eat bread and do not call upon the LORD?” The implication is that they commit their heinous crimes against Yahweh’s people with willful ignorance—refusing to acknowledge that God exists. And the outcome of those who terrorize the defenseless? “They are in great terror” (verse 5 above). Their Creator, whom they deny, is present and a refuge to his righteous children. But relentless and terrifying judgment awaits those who reject God and commit such evil acts.
Observation: David could only envision in part these prophetically inspired words of God’s salvation plan. Though future generations of believers will encounter persecution from foolhardy people who dismiss the presence of God, our Immanuel is with us and in us until the end of the age (Matthew 28:20). And his Holy Spirit will deepen our understanding of his grace and help us persevere persecution from those who think they have the upper hand. Indeed, the terror they inflict on the defenseless will eventually turn on them. And one day, when Christ returns, he will banish Satan and unrepentant perpetrators of evil for all eternity (Revelation 20).
Meanwhile, our part is to pray for the restoration of the oppressed: “Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion! When the LORD restores the fortunes of his people, let Jacob rejoice, let Israel be glad” (verse 7). As David concludes, we too should rejoice—even in moments of suffering from the godless. Why? Because, for those who know and love Jesus, salvation has come out of Zion. Our Savior has delivered us from the real Enemy who seeks to mar and destroy our souls. And he has restored our good fortune (our eternal inheritance) as our Father’s beloved children.
Prayer: Father God, we thank you for your Son, who has defeated our ultimate oppressor and restored our inheritance as your adopted children. Would you please help us to exercise patience and persevere temporal suffering at the hand of the godless? And please remind us to pray for the oppressed and for those who persecute us. Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling