THOUGHTS FROM THE PSALMS

THE TRIUMPH OF THE WICKED

Sometimes it seems that godlessness and wickedness, and those who pursue them, triumph. That they increase, and even rule, without challenge, and without any respect for government authorities, or any awareness that there is indeed an ultimate Judge and an ultimate judgement day.

There are times in human history and in individual human lives when the facts and sentiments expressed in Psalm 11 are the very facts and sentiments that well up in our hearts:

      • ' ... the wicked bend their bows; they set their arrows ... to shoot from the shadows at the upright in heart' [verse 2].
      • 'When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?' [verse 3].

What can the righteous do? When we are powerless to halt the escalating wickednes? When we are the unwilling passengers in a society or family that is driving itself towards its own destruction? When our hearts and souls writhe in an agony of pain and fear? When all of our natural inclinations tell us to somehow escape, to run, to get away from it, to 'flee like a bird' to the mountain [verse 1].

Into these situations of despair Psalm 11 speaks with confidence:

      • 'In the Lord I take refuge' [verse 1] - right here in the midst of the suffering, the pain, the fear.
      • 'The LORD is in his holy temple' - right here with us; 'the LORD is on his heavenly throne' - in the position of absolute and ultimate power and authority. He sees everything people do. He examines everything people do. [Verse 4]
      • He hates the wicked and those who love violence [verse 5].
      • His judgement will fall on them because he is righteous and loves justice [verses 6-7a].

From a human perspective it often seems that the wicked prosper and triumph. And from a human perspective, they often do. Apparently immune from human justice. Apparently immune from God's judgement. But the Scripture reveals a totally different perspective: that God sees and hates all wickedness, all social injustice, all bribery and corruption. That his wrath is even now upon those involved. That even though they may avoid and despise all human justice, yet God's perfect justice will ultimately prevail.

It is not wrong to cry to the Lord when the pain is great and the wicked seem to triumph. Rather it is right to cry to him and take refuge in him. It is right on two counts: firstly, it is right because all wickedness is utterly wrong. It is utterly out of sync with God and with God's intended purpose for man. He did not create us for wickedness. Nor did he create us for the suffering inevitably caused by wickedness. He created us for glory. When we feel the discordant pain of human wickedness we are feeling something of the pain of God. Secondly it is right, because only God can help us. It is no use running away, it is no use trying to save ourselves. Only the Lord has the power and the authority to be a place of refuge in the time of trouble. Only the Lord has the power and authority to deliver us. Only the Lord has the power and authority to intervene with judgement and justice in any ultimate and final sense.

With the martyred saints in Revelation it is okay, in times when the wicked  triumph, to  cry 'How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth?' [6:10].

Copyright Rosemary Bardsley 2008