This is a great Psalm as relates to life and ministry for the coming year. Security, being relatively tentative at all times and even today (if we are honest), is always uppermost in our minds. We long for assurance that all will be well for the long haul. And in view of the myriad of threats in our day, some would encourage us to find our security in the mountains that surround us, since they look so strong and stable. But the fact is that those strong looking mountains (I am in Canmore, Alberta Canada as I write this…) are not as secure as they look. Neither are those things we commonly trust in, like our homes, our human relationships, our financial investments, and so on. Our best security is in the Lord calling forth our trust in Him. This Psalm is a confession with which I wish to identify — I trust in the Lord for protection.
The Psalm goes on to speak of the kind of world we live in — how the wicked are intent on “stringing their bows…shooting from the shadows at those who do right.” It is evident throughout the Bible that there is this division between good and evil, between wicked people and righteous ones. Though this idea of wicked people versus righteous people may be offensive to some who think any such reference smacks of bigotry and arrogance, even the hardest hearts would have to acknowledge that in the extreme such categories exist. Yet the biblical difference is much more subtle than that in the sense that the wicked may actually appear righteous and some who are seemingly righteous are actually very wicked. The Bible in fact states that we are all wicked, we are all unrighteous — there is none that does good, not even one (Psalm 14:1-3; Romans 3:10, 11). Righteousness, we learn, comes by faith and is something conferred rather than deserved (Romans 3:22 – 26). So when God looks on the world, He sees both wicked and righteous, the former constantly taking advantage of the latter.
In general then, as the world proceeds, it seems that the wicked are overcoming the righteous. As the writer of this Psalm puts it: the foundations of law and order have collapsed. What can the righteous do? (Vs. 3). As we turn the corner for another year, it does seem that evil is ever more blatant and ever more fierce. This morning (Jan 4th), I heard that CEOs in our country are being paid phenomenal annual salaries that far exceed their actual worth — all at the expense of their companies’ share-holders, not to mention the poor of our country. WHAT CAN THE RIGHTEOUS DO?
Not much, except to trust in the Lord, who still is in his holy Temple … [and] still rules from heaven … He watches everything closely, examining everyone on earth. The Lord examines both the righteous and the wicked (Vss. 4-5). It is a great comfort for the righteous to know that God is still the boss and will have the last word on all the wickedness that abounds. His own attitude and promise of judgment is sure. He will vindicate the truly righteous because the Lord is righteous and he loves justice (Vs. 7).
I think I am a realist when I say that we live in a very wicked world. Though we can be thankful for a large measure of mercy and justice in Canada because of the strong Christian influence we have enjoyed historically, the righteousness that does exist is but a thin veneer that covers a raging sea of very self-centered living. And we Christians need to be careful lest we be sucked in to all of it as well.
By God’s grace I want to be the kind of person this year who reflects the true righteousness with which I profess to be clothed– in anticipation of the fulfillment of His promise that those who do right will see his face (Vs. 7). I want to experience the smile of His face in my daily life as well as at the end of my days.