“They slay the widow and the alien;
They murder the fatherless.
They say, ‘The Lord does not see;
The God of Jacob pays no heed.’”
Psalm 94: 6-7
Let’s be honest… who would want to write about these two verses from Psalm 94? Not me! Yet- here we are, and if you’re reading this, I apologize in advance for my feeble attempts at addressing this passage.
In Psalm 94, the author is giving voice to the oppressed with a plea to God to avenge those who have committed injustices against them, His people. The psalmist is crying out for God to punish those who “slay the widow and the alien” and “murder the fatherless.” These evildoers claim that “the Lord does not see; the God of Jacob pays no heed.”
In our very secular culture and even in churches, God is portrayed as two very distinct opposites- we have the “hippy” version of Jesus who is all about love and peace. On the other end of the spectrum is the God who is watching and judging our every thought and deed just waiting to pounce when we make one wrong move. There are bits and pieces of truth to these depictions; however, they do not come close to capturing the complete picture of our Great God (in the best way our minuscule human minds can possibly comprehend). While the Bible tells us that God is love and He commands us to love one another, it also says that “God is the judge” (Psalm 75:7) and that “for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger” (Romans 2:8).
If you’re anything like me, the passages of the Bible that describe God’s punishment (a huge chunk of the Old Testament) or speak of His wrath for those who sin against Him are often ignored. I skim those verses at best and skip over them at worst. It’s not that I doubt them; rather, I have trouble reconciling them with the God of love. I only want to read of God’s love and grace. Unfortunately, in our fallen world, we cannot have one without the other. There is Good and Evil. Our God is filled with mercy and love, but there are conditions to His grace and mercy. He freely offers eternal life through Jesus Christ, but we must accept that gift by believing in Jesus and recognizing our utter sinfulness apart from Him. If we choose to ignore His gift and continue living in sin, we will not receive the salvation He so longs to give us.
Now you understand why these two verses I was assigned for this Lenten blog are so difficult for me. They remind me that God is the Judge of all. They remind me that God does see and cares greatly about all we do, think, and say. It instills within me a new fear of the Lord. Not a fear in the sense of doom or dread or eternal damnation (as a believer I hold to the promise of John 3:16), but a renewed understanding of how great and powerful He is and how all things are in His control. Proverbs 9:10 says, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Perhaps these verses can be the catalyst for us to grow in wisdom as a nation, as a church, and as individuals. God does see evil in this world, and He will avenge those who commit the atrocities of which the psalmist describes. In a world where evil seems to triumph over good, we can find peace in the knowledge that God is the Judge, and “He will bring every deed into judgement, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:14). In the meantime, may we hate what God hates and abide by the religion that the Lord accepts as pure and faultless: “to look after orphans and widows in their distress and keep [ourselves] from being polluted by the world” (James 1:27).
Thank God for the Cross,