Hey, powerful person!
Why do you brag about evil?
God’s faithful love lasts all day long.
Your tongue devises destruction:
it’s like a sharpened razor, causing deception.
You love evil more than good;
you love lying more than speaking what is right.
You love all destructive words;
you love the deceiving tongue.
But God will take you down permanently;
he will snatch you up,
tear you out of your tent,
and uproot you from the land of the living!
The righteous will see and be in awe;
they will laugh at those people:
“Look at them! They didn’t make God their refuge.
Instead, they trusted in their own great wealth.
They sought refuge in it—to their own destruction!”
But I am like a green olive tree in God’s house;
I trust in God’s faithful love forever and always.
I will give thanks to you, God, forever,
because you have acted.
In the presence of your faithful people,
I will hope in your name because it’s so good. (Common English Bible)
Ideally, every person on planet earth would be safe to talk to and work with. But we know this is not true. That’s because we have our own experiences of persons in authority who used their power and influence for malevolent purposes – knowing exactly what kind of harm they’re doing.
This is precisely what once happened with David. Before he was king over all Israel and Judah, David was on the run from King Saul.
David had done nothing wrong. In fact, he had done everything right from a good heart. And yet, because of Saul’s jealousy and lust for power, he saw David as a threat and not an asset. So, he hunted him like an animal.
King Saul’s abuse of power was bad enough. But that abuse reached it’s evil height with Doeg the Edomite. (1 Samuel 22:6-23)
Doeg was a nasty guy. He wasn’t just bad; he enjoyed being bad. Saul was so obsessed with getting rid of his perceived rival, that he sought to kill anyone who aided and abetted David. And Doeg had such a lust for murder that he was willing to kill anyone.
And that’s what he did. When Saul found out that the priests in the village of Nob had helped David when he was on the run, the jealous king tried to use his authority to command the army to slaughter them all. However, being reasonable men, they could not do it.
Yet, Doeg stepped in and stepped up to single-handedly wipe out the priests. Sadly, he didn’t stop there…
Doeg the Edomite turned and attacked the priests; on that day he killed eighty-five who wore the linen ephod. Nob, the city of the priests, he put to the sword; men and women, children and infants, oxen, donkeys, and sheep, he put to the sword. (1 Samuel 22:18-19, NRSV)
It was after this horrific event that David crafted the psalm for today.
There is abuse, trauma, and oppression – and then there is the continual harming from another which goes unabated. The abuser, the oppressor, the murderer keeps going, unchecked. And we are powerless to stop it.
There is only One who can right such terrible wrongs.
Today’s psalm speaks of God’s constancy, the continual love which persists all day long. David lifted his grief and anger to the Lord concerning the misuse of power and authority by Saul and Doeg. In light of God’s justice and faithful love, David affirms and believes that the Lord will bring ruin on those who despise divine commands and ethical instruction.
We don’t know always know why evil continues, or how it will end. Those enduring questions out of our own human condition and experience of evil may persist. Yet, the believer knows with certainty, as follower of a righteous, just, and holy God, that the downfall of the wicked will be total, and it will be permanent.
There is a day coming when evil shall be finished forever. And it’s hard not knowing exactly when that’s going to happen.
Perhaps this sort of talk seems like a cop out. It may appear that if God is so loving and powerful that evil ought to be stopped this very second.
Yet, consider this: There is so much evil and injustice in this world that to forcefully and immediately pull up those nasty wicked weeds will end up taking out the good plants next to them. The cure ends up being the harm.
The Lord is presently, patiently, and meticulously moving all things toward an inexorable ending – and it must be done carefully so that the godly are preserved from annihilation.
Fortunately, most people on earth aren’t like Doeg the Edomite or King Saul. Unfortunately, having one of them in your life is likely to happen because of the world’s great evil. One wicked person is bad enough to foment hate, spread lies, create havoc, and outright murder people – both verbally and actually.
The biblical psalms exist to serve us well whenever we experience the wrath of a person like Doeg. The psalms let us know we aren’t alone and help give us a voice. This is highly important, especially when the wicked seek to silence us and squelch our voice.
Trusting in the Lord, day after day… week after week… month after month… year after year… decade after decade… with the same slow and deliberate plod of God, strengthens us like a big old thick olive tree. And the psalms are here to help that happen.
May the Lord Jesus Christ guard and deliver you from the snares of the devil, the assaults of evil spirits, the wrath of the wicked, all base passions, and the fear of the known and unknown. Amen.