PSALM 94 TALK: OUR GOD THE KING WHO JUDGES

PSALM 94 TALK: OUR GOD THE KING WHO JUDGES

 (A Psalm that explores the great truth that the God of the bible is the king of everything who judges the sinful deeds of all mankind but who also is a God of amazing undeserving love who will save and protect anyone who turns to him in faith and repentance.)

 THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide”.

INTRODUCTION

When I was in Bible College over 40 years ago I was for one year given the special job of being the college driver and one of my duties in those days was pick up from her home the college evening cook named Mrs. Bushel. Mrs. Bushel was a very lovely godly woman who shared with me many wonderful times of fellowship. One day I asked her what she was learning at her church and to my surprise she said that the minister of her church was still working through the book of Jeremiah and intended to spend 10 years in sermons and bible studies on this book of the bible”.

I turned to her and sincerely said, “You poor women I feel sorry for you and your church”, she was very surprised by my words and said, “Why do you feel sorry for me and my church”? I then proceeded to say that I felt 10 years on sin and judgment would be a very painful experience in my mind. Mrs. Bushel shared with me that even though the book of Jeremiah contained a lot on sin and judgment it also had teaching about the great-underserved love of God and offered those who truly believe in that God great hope in the face of God’s judgment.

Maybe Mrs. Bushel minister felt he was called by God to have a Jeremiah type ministry which was a very hard and unresponsive ministry as the prophet Jeremiah proclaimed God’s message with virtually no response and on eight occasions he had to be saved from death as the King of Judah or other leading men sought to kill him to stop him telling them his damming prophecies of their sin and God’s judgment on them and their country at the hands of the all powerful Babylonians.

Psalm 94 is a Psalm that presents the same message of Jeremiah of the judgment of God on the sinful nation of Israel. This Psalm contains so much of what happened to Jeremiah and what he preached on God’s judgment that it could have been written by him. I believe he or some other prominent Godly person like him wrote this Psalm in a similar time period to Jeremiah’s long ministry. Throughout my opening up of this Psalm I will refer to the book of Jeremiah when it relates to the message and story of Jeremiah in this Psalm.

We live in times when the Godless and arrogant attitudes of many people today match the people of Jeremiah’s day so Psalm 94 and the book of Jeremiah has much to say to people today. Maybe we are seeing this because just as God’s judgment was close to the time of the people of Jeremiah’s day so the final judgment of the whole world could be close to us.

Even if the return of the Lord Jesus Christ does not come in our time it will come eventually as both Jesus and the teaching of the New Testament declares in many places that Jesus is returning and when he does the final judgment of God will come, as we read in a passage like, Matthew 25: 31 – 33,

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

 This Psalm fits into the theme of “Our God the king” (Psalms 93 – 100) because as Allan Harman says,

“It is related to the other kingship psalms in that the appeal to the Lord as the God of vengeance recognizes that he is the great judge and king”.

 Ancient kings acted as both authors of laws for their lands and people and upholders of those laws and often they sat on their thrones and acted as judge over their people. They had the power to both save lives and condemn them and often kings of the past did not administer justice but rather frightening terror inspired by their lust for power and by the sinful desires of their evil hearts.

Our God, the God of the bible is not like these Godless wicked kings of the past as verse 20 of this Psalm declares,

“Can a corrupt throne be allied with you (God) – one that brings on misery by its decrees?

 The answer is of course a resounding no as our God judges as verse 15a declares,

“Judgment will again be founded on righteousness”.

 Our God is not only a just or Holy Judge but also a loving God, who saves those who turn from sin to seek to serve him as verse 18 declares,

“When I said, ‘My foot is slipping, your love, O Lord supported me”.

 So I hope we will learn from the message of this Psalm and the book of Jeremiah that God will judge sin and does offer love and forgiveness to those who truly turn to him in faith and repentance.

With the theme of “Our God the king who Judges” in mind my breakdown for this Psalm is:

  1. 1 – 3   GOD THE KING IS THE JUDGE OF THE WHOLE WORLD
  1. 1 – 2   God the avenging judge
  2. 3         A call for God to judge
  1. 4 – 11 THE FOOLS WHO OPPOSE GOD THE KING WHO JUDGES
  1. 4 – 7   Description of those who oppose God the king who judges
  2. 8 – 11 Why God knows what those who oppose him are doing
  1. 12 – 19 GOD THE KING WHO JUDGES HELPS HIS FAITHFUL PEOPLE
  1. 12 – 15 How God the king who judges helps his faithful people
  2. 16 – 19   How God the king who judges helped the writer of this  

               Psalm

  1. 20 – 23 GOD THE KING WHO JUDGES WILL SAVE AND PROTECT

                             HIS PEOPLE AND JUDGE THOSE WHO OPPOSE HIM

  1. 20 – 21   God the king who judges is over earthly kings
  2. 22 – 23   God the king who judges protects his faithful people

 So lets now look closely at what this Psalm is about and what it has to say to us today.

  1. 1 – 3   GOD THE KING IS THE JUDGE OF THE WHOLE WORLD

 I have divided this first section of the Psalm into two parts:

  1. 1 – 2   God the avenging judge
  2. 3         A call for God to judge

 Lets have a close look at the first part:

  1. 1 – 2   God the avenging judge

 The Psalm opens with a call to God to avenge and judge the many sins of the people who oppose him and act so willfully in evil deeds against God and his people. The judgment this Psalmist is calling for is for both the so called people of God and anyone else who oppose God and his true followers as we see in the words of verse 5,

“They crush your people, O Lord; they oppress your inheritance”

 And this was the key message of the Prophet Jeremiah

The two opening verses read this way,

“O Lord, the God who avenges, O God who avenges, shine forth. Rise up, O Judge of the earth; pay back to the proud what they deserve”

 The two key phrases used here are:

  1. O God who avenges (vs. 1)
  2. O Judge of the earth (vs. 2)

Lets have a close look at each of these key two phrases, which set up the rest of the Psalm.

  1. O God who avenges (vs. 1)

The idea of avenging wrongs is a very strong human desire but is usually done very badly by us because we do it in a very sinful way. I like how H.C Leupold points out the old King James translation of this phrase, which reads this way,

“God to whom vengeance belongs”

This is why the Apostle Paul speaks of Christians not taking revenge as he says in Romans 12: 19,

“Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord”.

 Paul is quoting Deuteronomy 32: 35 and he goes on to quote Proverbs 25: 21 – 22

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink, in doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head”.

This quote of Paul from the book of proverbs sounds awfully like the teaching of Jesus in the Gospels like Luke 5: 38 – 42,

 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’

39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.

 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well.

41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.

42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you”.

 So popular is the concept of revenge that many movies and TV shows and of course books feature it like the movie “Vengeance” and the very popular TV mini series called “Revenge”. It seems that built into all us as human beings made in the image of God is a sense of justice but justice as verse 15a says in this Psalm, must be founded on Righteousness,

“Judgment will again be founded on righteousness”.

 As I said before the concept of God’s justice and God taking revenge on his wicked sinful people is at the heart of the message of the prophet Jeremiah like we read in Jeremiah 7: 20,

‘Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: My anger and my wrath will be poured out on this place—on man and beast, on the trees of the field and on the crops of your land—and it will burn and not be quenched”.

 Even though Jeremiah preached the message of Judgment or God taking revenge it was God alone who organized or did the avenging and in Jeremiah’s prophecies it would be carried out by God through the Babylonians invading Judah and destroying Jerusalem and taking the Jews into captivity in Babylon as we read for instance in Jeremiah 4: 5 – 6, where Babylon is described as disaster from the north,

“Announce in Judah and proclaim in Jerusalem and say: ‘Sound the trumpet throughout the land!’ Cry aloud and say: ‘Gather together! Let us flee to the fortified cities!’

 6 Raise the signal to go to Zion! Flee for safety without delay! For I am bringing disaster from the north, even terrible destruction”.

  1. O Judge of the earth (vs. 2)

The writer of Psalm 94 then uses a phrase that appears a number of times in the bible,

“O Judge of the earth”

Which appears for the first time in Genesis 18: 25,

“Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?”

 The same or similar phrase appears in the Psalms before Psalm 94 and David uses it in Psalm 58: 11,

“Then people will say, “Surely the righteous still are rewarded; surely there is a God who judges the earth.”

 Jeremiah speaks of the God of the Bible as the judge of the earth and nations in Jeremiah 10: 10,

“But the Lord is the true God; he is the living God, the eternal King. When he is angry, the earth trembles; the nations cannot endure his wrath”.

 Jesus speaks of the God’s final judgment on the earth or Nations as coming to this world when he returns again, like Matthew 25: 31 – 33,

 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left”.

 So it is God and ultimately Jesus who will judge this world and it seems clear that the writer of Psalm 94 wants God to judge the wicked people of his day that seem to surround him everywhere. He uses two expressions to indicate this,

“Shine forth” (vs. 1)

 and “Rise up” (vs. 2)

It seems clear from the next section of the Psalm that it appeared in the time this Psalm 94 was written that evil was going unchecked as we read the attitude of the evildoers in verse 7,

“They say, ‘The Lord does not see; the God of Jacob pays no heed”.

 So the writer of Psalm 94 wants God to shine forth or show himself in judgment or “Rise Up” or make clear that he is God the king who judges.

Finally I must stress again that this opening section of the Psalm is stressing the fact that Judgment belongs to God alone. We see today the mad and fanatical Muslim terrorist torturing and killing people, particularly Christians in the name of administering their view of God’s judgment but this is totally unbiblical behavior,

Jesus even taught in Matthew 7: 1 – 2,

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

 He goes on to point out our inability to carry out God’s judgment on God’s enemies because of our own sin and indeed need of being judged ourselves as Jesus goes on to point out verses 3 – 6 of Matthew 7,

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye”.

 This is not saying Christians cannot be involved in the justice system as judges or members of juries as this is the upholding of civil law which God has instituted through the creation of the earthly authorities he has put over us.

How are we to respond to those then who persecute us?

Jesus makes this very clear in a passage like Matthew 5: 43 – 45,

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous”.

  1. 3         A call for God to judge

These opening verses are a call to God to act as the Judge of the earth in the writer of Psalm 94 time and this becomes even clearer when we read the words of verse 3,

“How long will the wicked, O Lord, how long will the wicked be jubilant”?

 The phrase “How long” appears some 10 times in the book of Psalms and this is what I said about it the last time it came up in Psalm 89: 46,

“I count ten times in the Psalms this cry has been used as a desperate cry to God starting with Psalm 6: 3 and ending with Psalm 119: 84 and Tremple Longman 111 explains,

 “The phrase indicates how the sufferer has been long in his pain and sees no terminus in sight”.

 The prophet Jeremiah had to put up with the wicked sins of his people for all of his life and it took around 40 years of Jeremiah’s painful ministry before Babylon finally invaded Judah to act as God’s judgment on the Jews. Jeremiah suffered greatly at the hands of most of the people of Judah who rejected his message of God’s judgment and I could imagine him praying the prayer of verse 3 of Psalm 94.

He uses the “How long” phrase in Jeremiah 12: 4,

“How long will the land lie parched and the grass in every field be withered? Because those who live in it are wicked, the animals and birds have perished. Moreover, the people are saying, “He will not see what happens to us.”

In Jeremiah 15: 15 Jeremiah prays this,

“Lord, you understand; remember me and care for me. Avenge me on my persecutors. You are long-suffering—do not take me away; think of how I suffer reproach for your sake”.

 Jeremiah like the writer of Psalm 94 (if Jeremiah is not the writer of this Psalm) was almost killed by his hearers, who hated his message as we see from verse 17,

“Unless the Lord had given me help I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death”.

 We will look a little closer at this in the third section of this Psalm talk.

It seems clear from verse 3 that the wicked sinners of the writer’s day revealed in their sins as he says that they were, “Jubilant”. Even today many Christian persecutors gloat over the Christians they oppose and many think they have had victory over them when they have been able to ridicule them or even worse kill them and get away with it.

However Paul make this remarkable claim in Romans 8: 31 – 37,

“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us”.

  1. 4 – 11 THE FOOLS WHO OPPOSE GOD THE KING WHO JUDGES

 The writer of Psalm 94 then moves on to spell out just what wicked things and thoughts the people had of his day. Many of the things we will see in the people of our writer’s day will be familiar to the sinful acts of people of our day.

I have divided this second section into two parts:

  1. 4 – 7   Description of those who oppose God the king who judges
  2. 8 – 11 Why God knows what those who oppose him are doing

 Lets have a look then at these two parts:

  1. 4 – 7   Description of those who oppose God the king who judges

So the writer of Psalm 94 now tells us some of the characteristics and deeds of the wicked people of his day who oppose God and each verse is a different characteristic making four in all. They are:

  1. They are arrogant and boastful of their wickedness (vs. 4)
  2. They crush or attack God’s people (vs. 5)
  3. They kill or exploit the frail or weak in society (vs. 6)
  4. They say God does not see or know of their evil deeds (vs.7)

Lets look a little closer at each of these:

  1. They arrogant and boastful of their wickedness (vs. 4)

The first characteristic of the wicked of our writer of Psalm 94 day is,

“They pour out arrogant words; all the evildoers are full of boasting”.

 Jeremiah had to deal with false prophets who said they were speaking for the God of the bible and even worse sometimes in the name of false God’s like Baal. Their message was in direct opposition to what Jeremiah was saying the God of the bible had said.

In Jeremiah chapter 23 Jeremiah says this to these arrogant wicked false prophets in verses 30 – 32,

 “Therefore,” declares the Lord, “I am against the prophets who steal from one another words supposedly from me. 31 Yes,” declares the Lord, “I am against the prophets who wag their own tongues and yet declare, ‘The Lord declares.’ 32 Indeed, I am against those who prophesy false dreams,” declares the Lord. “They tell them and lead my people astray with their reckless lies, yet I did not send or appoint them. They do not benefit these people in the least,” declares the Lord.

 The writer of Psalm 94, like Jeremiah sees the words of false prophets and their followers as people who pour out words or “speak folly” (as Allan Harman translates it) in a arrogant way.

Many today do the same thing and one might be fooled into believing their folly is truth because so many say much the same thing. Christians might seem to be in a small minority but as Jesus warns us in Matthew 7: 13,

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it”.

 Many powerful atheists like John Dawkins arrogantly speak of Christians as stupid fools who have forsaken their intellect to believe in myths and legends. This what Dawkins said in his book “The God Delusion”,

“More generally, as I shall repeat in Chapter 8, one of the truly bad effects of religion is that it teaches us that it is a virtue to be satisfied with not understanding.”

 Or

“Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is the belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence.”

 So many arrogant ill-informed attitudes like that of Richard Dawkins and many others swamp our world today but we must keep Jesus words in our mind when attacked by these loud arrogant voices, words like John 8: 31 – 32,

“To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

  1. They crush or attack God’s people (vs. 5)

The effect of the arrogant words of the wicked of the writers day could be seen in the next verse, verse 5,

“They crush your people, O Lord; they oppress your inheritance”.

 Cruel arrogant words of persecution can crush many believers hearts and as I said even the brave and determined Jeremiah felt the emotional crushing effect of his opponents words and action who even tried to literally crush or kill him on a number of occasions.

Jeremiah had a number of death plots against him, he was thrown in prison and attempts were made on his life as we will see in my comments on verse 17.

Jeremiah seems crushed in spirit or suffering from circumstantial depression in Jeremiah 20 and he expresses this to God in a prayer of complaint in verses 7 – 10 of that chapter,

You deceived me, Lord, and I was deceived; you overpowered me and prevailed.
I am ridiculed all day long; everyone mocks me. Whenever I speak, I cry out proclaiming violence and destruction. So the word of the Lord has brought me insult and reproach all day long. But if I say, “I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name,” his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary

of holding it in; indeed, I cannot. 10 I hear many whispering, “Terror on every side! Denounce him! Let’s denounce him!” All my friends are waiting for me to slip, saying,

“Perhaps he will be deceived; then we will prevail over him and take our revenge on him.”

 As I said many Christians today often feel like Jeremiah, like they are being crushed by a world that is in rebellion to the God of the bible they believe in but we must learn to turn and anxieties into prayers as Paul tells us to in Philippians 4: 6,

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God”.

 And if we do we have the wonderful promise of the next verse to lift us up when we feel crushed or depressed by the world around us that seeks to destroy us.

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”.

  1. They kill or exploit the frail or weak in society (vs. 6)

Another very real characteristic of our world today that our writer of Psalm 94 saw in his day is,

“They slay the widow and alien; they murder the fatherless”.

 It seems to be a sad reality of life that the rich and powerful of this world often get their wealth and power from the exploitation of the poor. I saw a powerful and informative but frightening movie a few years ago called “Captain Philips” a film made in 2013 and staring Tom Hanks. The film deals with the true story of the hijacking of a US owned freighter ship called “The Maersk Alabama” by pirates from Somali in the Indian Ocean in 2009.

One of the sad facts of this movie was that the poor Somali men who actually performed the hijacking were manipulated and controlled by rich Somali gangsters who actually gave very little to the hijackers as they in tern threatened the lives of the hijackers families and community if they did not get money out of the ships owners.

These men are sadly, so much like thousands of other poor people in our world today who are widows, orphans and aliens who rich wicked people are exploiting and in a lot of cases slaying as the verse declares.

Jeremiah spoke up against these people in his day with words like Jeremiah 5: 26 – 29,

“Among my people are the wicked who lie in wait like men who snare birds and like those who set traps to catch people. 27 Like cages full of birds, their houses are full of deceit; they have become rich and powerful 28 and have grown fat and sleek.
Their evil deeds have no limit; they do not seek justice. They do not promote the case of the fatherless; they do not defend the just cause of the poor. 29 Should I not punish them for this?” declares the Lord. “Should I not avenge myself on such a nation as this?”

 The wicked men of the writer of Psalm 94 day thought they would get away with this just like rich people today think they can and with similar exploitation of poor or defenseless people of our day. Often they pay for their crimes in this life but even if they don’t a day of reckoning is coming as the writer to the Hebrews says in Hebrews 9: 27,

“Just as a man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment”.

  1. They say God does not see or know of their evil deeds (vs.7)

So the last characteristic our writer of Psalm 94 gives us of the wicked people of his day who opposed God is their total arrogance and ignorance,

“They say, ‘The Lord does not see; the God of Jacob pays no heed”.

 Jeremiah discovered that the poor and leaders in Judah of his day had turned so far from God they did not recognize him or his requirements for their lives as we see in Jeremiah 5: 4 – 5,

 “I thought, “These are only the poor; they are foolish, for they do not know the way of the Lord, the requirements of their God.So I will go to the leaders and speak to them; surely they know the way of the Lord, the requirements of their God.” But with one accord they too had broken off the yoke and torn off the bonds”.

 Once a person breaks off from believing in the God of the bible they soon think that because they believe he does not exist they have no one to answer to. Our society today is suffering because people are living selfish Godless lives and they too think there is no God seeing or knowing what they are doing.

Paul made it clear to the Greek secular scholars of his day in the great ancient city of Athens that there is a God they will have to face in judgment one day and that day or judgement is as sure as the fact that Jesus was raised from the dead, Acts 17: 31,

“For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.”

Spurgeon concludes,

“Surely in such unbelievers is fulfilled the saying of the wise, that those whom the Lord means to destroy he leaves to the madness of their corrupt hearts”.

 There is a God who is king and he is a God who judges and people who deny his existence will get a terrible rude shock when they die or the Lord returns and then they face the God they so arrogantly denied.

I like the car sticker that says,

“Eternity is a long time to be wrong”

  1. 8 – 11  Why God knows what those who oppose him are doing

In the last verse, verse 7, the writer of Psalm 94 speaks of the arrogant claim, which characterizes the wicked people who oppose God of their belief that God does not see or know of their wickedness. They probably thought like this because it appeared that God was doing nothing in their present time to stop them doing wicked things so God must not see or know what they are doing.

In the next four verses the writer of Psalm 94 is saying nothing is further from the truth and he puts up five reasons in these four verses why God sees and knows the wicked things or sinful things those who oppose him are doing.

The five reasons in these four verses of why God sees and knows the wicked things those who oppose him are doing are:

  1. People who don’t acknowledge God as God are fools (vs. 8)
  2. God knows because he is the creator of all things (vs. 9)
  3. God knows because he judges the nations (vs. 10a)
  4. God knows because he teaches man knowledge (vs. 10b)
  5. God even knows our thoughts (vs. 11)

Lets have a close look at each of these four things:

  1. People who don’t acknowledge God as God are fools (vs.8)

The writer starts his answer to why God sees and knows the wicked deeds of those who oppose God with a spiritual reality and that spiritual reality is expressed this way in verse 8,

“Take heed, you senseless ones among the people; you fools when you become wise”.

 The writer of Psalm 94 knows the bible as in a number of places we have similar statements in the bible to what we read in Proverbs 1: 7 says,

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline”.

 He might have even known the two earlier Psalms that speak of this kind of thing as well, Psalm 14 and Psalm 53. Psalm 53 starts, as does Psalm 14 with these words,

“The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God’, They are corrupt and their ways are vile; there is no one who does good”.

 The idea is, if you don’t acknowledge that God sees and knows all things then you are a fool who is a person who refuses to acknowledge God’s existence and his right to say how you are living at the present time is wrong or displeases him.

Jeremiah says in Jeremiah 4: 22 that God says this about his disobedient sinful people,

“My people are fools; they do not know me. They are senseless children; they have no understanding. They are skilled in doing evil; they know not how to do good”.

 Paul says in Romans 1 that the problem is that sinful people don’t know God because what they should know about God is being suppressed by them because of their sin.

Here is what he actually says in Romans 1: 18 – 23,

“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

 21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles”.

 So the first reason why those who oppose God say he does not see or know what they are doing is because their sinful hearts have suppressed the truth about God’s reality making them fools or unwise when it come to things about God.

  1. God knows because he is the creator of all things (vs. 9)

Even people today think that it is impossible for one being to know what every person alive is doing no matter how great and powerful he is. The writer of Psalm 94 counters this idea with what he says in verse 9,

“Does he who implanted the ear not hear? Does he who formed the eye not see?”

 Leupold aptly writes,

“The creator is the author of every ability that man has. How much more must He be capable of those very functions! Only He that hears superbly can impart hearing to others. Only He who has perfect sight such as man cannot even conceive of is capable of giving seeing eyes to men”.

 The same argument that God is the creator of all things can be used to explain why he and of course he Son, Jesus Christ can perform miracles when they want to. If God created the elements and laws of nature then he has the power to change or alter them to perform his will.

The problem with the people of the writer of Psalm 94 day is the same problem modern non God believers have today they only think of God in human terms and dismiss him because humanly speaking the claims about God in the bible are impossible.

Jesus made this point clear when he said in Luke 18: 27,

“What is impossible with men is possible with God”.

 Jeremiah says this to the wicked sinful God opposes of his day in Jeremiah 5: 21,

“Hear this, you foolish and senseless people, who have eyes but do not see, who have ears but do not hear”

 Jeremiah fleshes out the concept of God being the creator of all things denied by these people as the reason for their foolish thinking in Jeremiah 5 verses 22 – 24,

Should you not fear me?” declares the Lord. “Should you not tremble in my presence? I made the sand a boundary for the sea, an everlasting barrier it cannot cross. The waves may roll, but they cannot prevail; they may roar, but they cannot cross it. 23 But these people have stubborn and rebellious hearts; they have turned aside and gone away. 24 They do not say to themselves, ‘Let us fear the Lord our

God, who gives autumn and spring rains in season, who assures us of the regular weeks of harvest.”

 To deny God seeing and knowing all we do is to deny that God is the creator of all things, the king who reigns and therefore judge of all the earth.

  1. God knows because he judges the nations (vs. 10a)

Our writer of Psalm 94 then gives us a third reason why it is foolishness to think that God does not see or know what we are doing in our lives and that third reason is expressed this way in the first part of verse 10,

“Does he who disciplines nations not punish?

Maybe these God of the bible opposes actually believed or spoke of God punishing foreign nations. We know from the book of Jeremiah that he had to deal with false prophets who told the king that after the first invasion of the Babylonians, when they ransacked the temple in Jerusalem and took off some of its precious objects that within two years God would punish the Babylonians with defeat and the Temples special objects would be returned to Jerusalem. We read this in Jeremiah 28: 2 – 4,

“This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: ‘I will break the yoke of the king of Babylon. Within two years I will bring back to this place all the articles of the Lord’s house that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon removed from here and took to Babylon. I will also bring back to this place Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim king of Judah and all the other exiles from Judah who went to Babylon,’ declares the Lord, ‘for I will break the yoke of the king of Babylon.’”

 This was obviously a false prophecy as this did not happen and in fact the new King in Judah, Zedekiah who listened and believed this false prophecy was actually overwhelmed by the Babylonians second invasion of Jerusalem and had his sons killed in front of him, his eyes cut out and he too was taken into exile into Babylon.

So at least in Jeremiah’s day those who opposed the God of the bible believed that their God, often called Baal punished nations so maybe the writer of Psalm 94, if it is not Jeremiah, used the fact that they believed God disciplines and punishes nations as a argument against them when they say God does not see or pays heed to their wrong doing.

The writer’s line of arguing is if God knows what nations are doing and disciplines and punishes them will he not know what you have done and discipline and punish you as well.

So far as false prophets telling people what they want to hear, we too need to be warned of these kind of teaches in our churches today as Paul warned Timothy of this in 2 Timothy 4: 2 – 5,

Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry”.

  1. God knows because he teaches man knowledge (vs. 10b)

 The fourth reason why God sees and knows the things we all do is in the second half of verse 10,

“Does he who teaches man lack knowledge”

 Proverbs 2: 6, says,

“For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding”.

 God said this to the prophet Jeremiah in Jeremiah 33: 3,

“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know”.

 So knowledge ultimately comes from God for as the creator God who is king all that is to be known is in him. I think God allows human beings to know and understand things through the gift of intellect. However because man is sinful our thinking and therefore our knowledge is defective as Paul says in Romans 1: 21,

“21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened”.

 So real and deep knowledge comes from God alone and the writer of Psalm 94 uses this idea to say that if it is God alone gives man knowledge and if God is all knowing or knows everything there is to know does he not know what we are doing?

Therefore those God of the bible opposes who say God does not know what they are doing are nothing more than deluded fools.

  1. God even knows our thoughts (vs. 11)

Our writer of Psalm 94 completes his argument to why God sees and knows what those who oppose him are doing with these words in verse 11,

“The Lord knows the thoughts of man; he knows that they are futile”

David makes the most devastating and detailed description of the extent of the knowledge of God and the human heart and mind in Psalm 139: 1 – 4,

“You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely”.

 This is a scary thought that God knows when we are sinning in our thoughts, God knows them, God hears them and we have claimed to be one of his followers. This thought or idea of God has caused me to get involved in serious prayers of repentance and confession but I cling to the words of the Apostle John on these occasions when he says in 1 John 1: 8 – 10,

“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us”.

 So the writer of Psalm 94 says that it is foolish to think or say that God does not see or know what we are doing because he knows our thoughts as we think them and as he says at the end of verse 11,

“They are futile”.

 What is called the NET bible translation or The New English Translation translates the word futile as,

“Morally bankrupt”.

  1. 12 – 19 GOD THE KING WHO JUDGES HELPS HIS FAITHFUL PEOPLE

 The writer of Psalm 94 then turns to where those who believe in the God of the bible stand in presence of God the king who judges and I have broken this third section into two parts:

  1. 12 – 15 How God the king who judges helps his faithful people
  2. 16 – 19   How God the king who judges helped the writer of this  Psalm

Lets have a close look at these two parts:

  1. 12 – 15 How God the king who judges helps his faithful people

Our writer of Psalm 94 is not a person who believes like a lot of modern so called prosperity preaches preach that following the God of the bible will lead to material and general happiness. Rather he teaches that God in fact will lead his people into times of hardship but he will be with them to help them through those difficult times.

So what will God do for those who truly follow him?

I have broken what I have learnt from these verses into four wonderful things God give his faithful followers and they are:

  1. Discipline and Teaching (vs. 12)
  2. Relief in times of trouble (vs. 13)
  3. Never forsake them (vs. 14)
  4. Help them follow righteousness (vs.15)

Lets have a close look at each of these four wonderful things God gives his faithful people:

  1. Discipline and Teaching (vs. 12)

Verse 12, says this,

“Blessed is the man you discipline O Lord, the man you teach your law”.

Leopold put forward the idea that this wonderful thing God gives his faithful people in verse 12 comes up here because those who oppose God, which he previously spoke of probably were used in their opposition to God and his faithful followers as agents of discipline to the God of the bibles faithful followers.

Certainly this is true in the life of the prophet Jeremiah whose life and message from God this Psalm strangely seems to mirror. In Jeremiah 20 we read of Jeremiah following God’s call to preach in the temple and after he does a leading priest named Pashhur in the Temple has Jeremiah beaten and put in stocks.

Difficulty and persecution are spoken of in the New Testament as a means of blessing the followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. All of the New Testament writers who speak of this, Paul, James and Peter say that we should rejoice in these trials, as Peter says in 1 Peter 1: 6 – 9,

“ In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls”.

 The big question is what is God’s ultimate plan for his faithful followers?

The bibles answer is not material blessings or happiness but as Paul puts it in Colossians 1: 22,

“To present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusations”

 God’s goal is our sanctification, which is to be made more like Christ and then our ultimate glorification, which is to be with God in heaven.

Another way of looking at it is, if we say we love our children yet allow them to do things that we know will hurt them or not be good for them, do we really love them if we don’t try and stop them or discipline them?

The writer to the Hebrews takes up a similar idea to verse 12 found in Proverbs 3: 11 – 12 and says this in Hebrews 12: 5 – 6,

“And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”

 So verse 12 is saying we are blessed because God loves us so much he wants the best for us like we want for our children which sometimes involves discipline and through this also we grow and learn which is why the writer of Psalm 94 says in verse 12,

“The man you teach your law”.

 The law is the Old Testament term for the word of God as the basis of the Old Testament word of God was contained in the law. The word of God only makes real sense to us when we read and experience its power and strength in our day-to-day lives.

Paul says this about the importance and value of the word of God in 2 Timothy 3: 16,

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right”.

  1. Relief in times of trouble (vs. 13)

So even though the person God loves, those who are faithful followers of the God of the bible might suffer from time to time from God’s discipline in their lives which makes them better people, God does not let them suffer alone but he gives them help to stand through the storms and trials of life. This is why the writer of Psalm 94 says in verse 13,

“You grant him relief from days of trouble, till a pit is dug for the wicked”.

 Jesus makes many promises to come to the aid of any of his followers as they go through difficult times like Matthew 11: 28 – 30,

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

 It is though Jesus is personally with us and I believe he is through His Holy Spirit who is in our lives once we truly come to faith in Christ. This is what Jesus promised in John 16: 5 – 11,

“Now I am going to him who sent me. None of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ Rather, you are filled with grief because I have said these things. But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because people do not believe in me;

10 about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned”.

 The advocate or as other translations call him, “counselor” is non other than the third person of the holy trinity, the Holy Spirit and Jesus also spoke of the promise of the coming of the Holy Spirit in John 14: 15 – 20,

“If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you”.

 Note how Jesus speaks of keeping his commands, which is New Testament code for the word of God because Jesus came to give us a new law, the law of love, which he established through his death and resurrection.

Note also in Psalm 94 verse 13 the last phrase of that verse,

“Till a pit is dug for the wicked”.

 This supports Leupold’s theory that the discipline of hardship God’s followers faced at the time of the writing this Psalm was caused directly by the persecution by the wicked people of that day who opposed God and his word. They are like the people who opposed the prophet Jeremiah who we will see when in the next part of this third section almost lost his life when he was put in a dry well or pit and left to die by the wicked haters of God and his word in his day.

It is interesting that the fate of the wicked in this verse is to be thrown into a pit specially dug by them obviously by the God who is the king who judges.

This image of the final fate of all evil -doers who oppose the God of the bible is spoken of in Psalm 140: 10 as a burning pit,

“Let burning coals fall upon them; may they be thrown into the fire, into miry pits, never to rise”.

 The miry burning pit becomes the lake of fire in Revelation 21: 8,

“ But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”

However the end of verse 13 of Psalm 94 is telling us that the persecution of trials caused by wicked people who oppose the God of the bible will continue unto this great Day of Judgment comes.

As I said before all of the New Testament writers speak of rejoicing in trials and difficulties because of the benefits they bring believers and this is what Paul says about this in Romans 5: 3 – 5,

“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us”.

 So God allows his people to suffer difficulty through things like persecution but he is with us in these times of difficulty helping us to cope, giving us relief and using the whole experience as a tool to make us better people, more like Christ himself.

  1. Never forsake them (vs. 14)

Added to the promise of relief God will give us in times of trouble is an even greater promise which is added by the writer of Psalm 94 in verse 14,

“For the Lord will not reject the people; he will never forsake his inheritance”

 Prophets like Jeremiah had to tell the people of Israel / Judah that God would punish their many sins but all of them also spoke of the fact that this did not mean he would forsake his people who God often calls “his inheritance” and these are the people God has chosen.

Paul uses this expression of God’s people being God’s inheritance in Ephesians 1: 18,

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people”.

 God has made many promises to the people he has chosen and so we are inheritors of his rich and amazing grace. Paul also calls us heirs which is another way of saying we are inheritors and this is clear from a verse like Romans 8: 17,

“Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory”.

 Verse 14 of Psalm 94 is saying then that no matter what suffering or discipline God’s chosen people might have to bear he will not forsake them Jeremiah speaking of God’s promised restoration of his people after the exile says this in Jeremiah 32: 40,

“I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me”.

 Much of what prophets like Jeremiah speak of as God’s restoration of his people after the Babylonian exile is in fact prophecies only fulfilled by the coming of the Messiah, who we believe as Christians is the Lord Jesus Christ.

Christ made similar claims of never forsaking his true followers in John 10: 27 – 29,

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand”.

 This is why Paul can say that even in the midst of suffering as Christians we are more than conquers, Romans 8: 37 – 39,

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord”.

 In verse 31 of Romans 8 Paul makes this bold claim, “If God is for us, who can be against us”.

 So as all the New Testament writers say, we should rejoice in our sufferings knowing God is with us to bring relief and he will never forsake us.

  1. Help them follow righteousness (vs.15)

As I also said before God is a Holy or righteous God and so he must also be a Judge who condemns sin. This is why the writer of Psalm 94 says in verse 15,

“Judgment will again be founded on righteousness”.

 God acted as the King who judges finally in 587BC when Jerusalem fell for the final time to the invading Babylonians. This was what the prophet Jeremiah had said would happen if the people of Judah would not return to the God of the bible in repentance and faith.

On that terrible day God’s judgment was founded on righteousness. God dealt with the wicked people of Judah who had turned away from the God of the bible and who as we saw from verses 4 – 7 committed many terrible sins against God and their very own people. There were times when this wickedness in Israel had led to the horrible practice of child sacrifice and in Baal worship sexual prostitutes were employed in the Temple and throughout the land as part of disgusting worship in the name of their God.

God had to end this terrible state of his people and he did it through the nation of Babylon. All through history corrupt and wicked empires have come under the judgment of God. I recently watched an interesting documentary on the downfall of the French line of kings with the coming of the French revolution. The French kings leading up to this revolution practiced immoral sexual acts, exploited the poor for their own selfish gain and generally arrogantly lived wicked Godless lives. They tried to gain God’s favor through the spiritual bankrupt French Catholic Church as they lay dying but I believe they did not escape God’s punishment for their many sins.

The end of the French reign of kings is only one of many historical examples of God acting as a judge in history but the bible clearly says that a great final day of judgment is coming and then all who have lived wicked lives will as we saw in my comments on verse 13 of this Psalm be thrown into the lake of fire, Revelation 21: 8,

“ But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”

However verse 15 also says,

“And all the upright in heart will follow it”.

This is the final wonderful thing God gives his faithful followers and it is saying what Jeremiah is saying God will do for his people in Jeremiah 32: 40b,

“I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me”.

 The message of the Gospel has two great aspects to it:

  1. God will judge sin
  2. God will judge sin but save us from its consequences

God amazingly achieved both of these two things in one single act of love when he sent his only son into the world to die on the cross for our sins.

This act of God is what will now cause men and women to both love and serve God and also teach them not to offend God by unrighteous acts of wickedness. This is what many passages of the New Testament speak of and I like the way John speaks of this in 1 John 2: 3 – 6,

“We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.”.

 The concept of a new covenant features prominently in Old Testament prophecy of the coming o the Messiah and Jeremiah offers his word of prophecy on this in Jeremiah 31: 33 – 34,

“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 34 No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

The writer to the Hebrews uses this quote in his claim that Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of the New Covenant in Hebrews 8: 6 – 13,

“But in fact the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises. For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. But God found fault with the people and said:

 “The days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt,
because they did not remain faithful to my covenant, and I turned away from them,
declares the Lord.

 10 This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 11 No longer will they teach their neighbour, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.

12 For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”13 By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear”.

 So much for my ill-informed comment to Mrs. Bushel all those years ago that the book of Jeremiah just contains lots of teaching on sin and judgment as we have here great teaching on hope that looks forward to the coming of Jesus when God’s law through the message of his great love will inspire his chosen followers to walk upright in heart to follow it.

  1. 16 – 19   How God the king who judges helped the writer of this  Psalm

Then in the second part of this third section the writer of the Psalm seems to speak personally of how God the king who judges helped him as he faced great opposition from the wicked people of his day who chose to oppose the God of the bible.

In opposing the God of the bible they naturally chose to oppose anyone like our Psalm writer who spoke up for that God in the face of their opposition to him. Here I cannot find a better candidate then the prophet Jeremiah to fit such a person and even the way this second part of the third section of the Psalm is worded hints at Jeremiah being its author.

However I must confess that my views on Jeremiah’s authorship of the Psalm is pure speculation but I will use his story and words as a way of explaining what the words in this second part of the third section is actually telling us.

I have broken these four verses into 3 aspects of help when facing great opposition:

  1. A call for help when facing great opposition (vs. 16)
  2. The help God gives when facing great opposition (vs. 17 – 18)
  3. Comfort for anxiety when facing great opposition (vs. 19)

Lets have a good look at each of these 3 aspects of help when facing great opposition:

  1. A call for help when facing great opposition (vs. 16)

The writers example of dealing with great opposition from wicked people who oppose the God of the bible we believe in is very helpful for us as we might find ourselves being opposed by wicked people who oppose the God the bible and the first thing our writer does is made clear by verse 16,

“Who will rise up for me against the wicked? Who will take a stand for me against evildoers”.

 It seems to me that the first thing our writer does is call on God for help and even vindication for his stand against the wicked people he is being opposed by. The prophet Jeremiah calls out to God in prayer during his long and difficult life and a good example of this is Jeremiah 20: 7 – 8,

“You deceived me, Lord, and I was deceived; you overpowered me and prevailed.
I am ridiculed all day long; everyone mocks me.

Whenever I speak, I cry out proclaiming violence and destruction. So the word of the Lord has brought me insult and reproach all day long”.

 So Jeremiah is crying out to the Lord for help just like our writer of Psalm 94, he wants God to rise up for him against the wicked and in verses 11 to 12 of Jeremiah 20 he realises that God will rise up for him against the wicked who oppose him and God’s word he is presenting to them.

“But the Lord is with me like a mighty warrior; so my persecutors will stumble and not prevail. They will fail and be thoroughly disgraced; their dishonour will never be forgotten.

12 Lord Almighty, you who examine the righteous and probe the heart and mind, let me see your vengeance on them, for to you I have committed my cause”.

 So Jeremiah believes that God will as the second part of Psalm 94: 16 says,

“Take a stand for him against evildoers”.

Jeremiah is fully vindicated some years later when the wicked king Zedekiah and most of the people of Judah and Jerusalem are overrun by the Babylonians and are either killed or taken into exile in Babylon just as Jeremiah had predicted.

The apostle Peter writing at time when Christians faced great persecution from many wicked people who opposed God and his word and he had this advice for them, 1 Peter 4: 12 – 19,

“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15 If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16 However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?

 18 And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved,
what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”

 19 So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good”.

  1. The help God gives when facing great opposition (vs. 17 – 18)

The writer of Psalm 94, who could have been the prophet Jeremiah, then gives personal testimony of actual help he received when he faced great opposition from wicked people who opposed God and his message to them.

We read of this help in verses 16 and 17,

“Unless the Lord had given me help, I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death.
18 When I said, “My foot is slipping,” your unfailing love, Lord, supported me”.

The way this personal help or assistance is worded reminds me of the story of Jeremiah’s near death experience recorded in Jeremiah 38 where we learn that some of the wicked men who opposed Jeremiah and his message to them captured Jeremiah and threw him in a old no longer used cistern or well or we could also describe it as a pit and left him to die there.

At the bottom of the pit is mud and the text of Jeremiah describes what happened this way,

“So they took Jeremiah and put him into the cistern of Malkijah, the king’s son, which was in the courtyard of the guard.

 They lowered Jeremiah by ropes into the cistern; it had no water in it, only mud, and Jeremiah sank down into the mud”.

 This is a dire and deadly situation for the prophet Jeremiah and fits well the words of verse 17 of Psalm 94,

“Unless the Lord had given me help, I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death”

 Jeremiah is slipping, sliding and sinking in dirty smelly mud, which continues to match the words in Psalm 94 verse 18 that say,

“My foot is slipping,”

 Then in Jeremiah 38: 7 – 13 speak of Jeremiah’s miraculous escape from the muddy pit,

“But Ebed-Melek, a Cushite, an official in the royal palace, heard that they had put Jeremiah into the cistern. While the king was sitting in the Benjamin Gate, Ebed-Melek went out of the palace and said to him, “My lord the king, these men have acted wickedly in all they have done to Jeremiah the prophet. They have thrown him into a cistern, where he will starve to death when there is no longer any bread in the city.”

 10 Then the king commanded Ebed-Melek the Cushite, “Take thirty men from here with you and lift Jeremiah the prophet out of the cistern before he dies.”

 11 So Ebed-Melek took the men with him and went to a room under the treasury in the palace. He took some old rags and worn-out clothes from there and let them down with ropes to Jeremiah in the cistern. 12 Ebed-Melek the Cushite said to Jeremiah, “Put these old rags and worn-out clothes under your arms to pad the ropes.” Jeremiah did so, 13 and they pulled him up with the ropes and lifted him out of the cistern. And Jeremiah remained in the courtyard of the guard”.

 God uses a foreigner from the land of Cush to save Jeremiah and this man would have been a black man from the ancient North African country now called Ethiopia. We do not know why this foreigner from North Africa wanted to save Jeremiah, maybe he was a God fearing man who believed Jeremiah spoke forth the word of God of the God of the bible, we just cannot know for sure.

The writer of Psalm 94 says these two things about his escape from death in verses 17 and 18:

  1. The Lord gave him help (vs. 17)
  2. God’s love supported him (vs. 18)

Let me say a few words about each of these two great facts:

  1. The Lord gave him help (vs. 17)

In the case of Jeremiah’s miraculous escape from the hands of his wicked God hating enemies only the hand of God working in the lives of a foreigner could have saved him from certain death.

God uses all kinds of ways, means and people to help us in our lives and of course non- believers will call this luck but we know that there is no such thing as luck in the word of God.

Paul says this about what happens to and for believers in this world in Romans 8: 28,

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”.

 No, Jeremiah was not lucky he was given help by the Lord who used a foreigner who was in Jerusalem at the time to reach out to Jeremiah with a rope made of old rags to lift him out of the miry pit. As David wrote hundred of years before Jeremiah in Psalm 40: 1 – 3,

“I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him”.

 This is a wonderful picture of what Christ has done for us as Paul speaks of in Ephesians 2: 1 – 5 where he says we were dead in our trespasses and sins but made alive by Christ Jesus,

“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved”.

 Then Paul says God raised us up from this pit of sin and has seated us in the heavenly realms of Christ Jesus in verses 6 and 7,

 “6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus”.

  1. God’s love supported him (vs. 18)

Then we read a wonderful expression of the love of God in the words in verse 18 that says,

“You love, O Lord supported me”

 As Jeremiah slipped all over the place in the miry bog at the bottom of dark muddy pit he says that God’s love supported him. This is a beautiful picture of how God helps us in the quagmire of this world. We often find ourselves slipping and sliding away but if we look to God he will support us with his great love. As Peter says in 1 Peter 5: 6 – 7,

“ Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you”.

 Or as Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 4: 7 – 9,

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed”.

 We have the love of God to hold us up as we see in Pauls prayer for the church at Ephesus in Ephesians 3: 12 – 19,

“For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God”.

  1. Comfort for anxiety when facing great opposition (vs. 19)

The writer of Psalm 94 then speaks of God’s help with anxiety when wicked men who opposed God opposed him. He writes in verse 19,

“When anxiety was great with me, your consolation brought joy to my soul”

 I go back to Jeremiah 20 were Jeremiah expressed great anxiety and even a kind of depression when he faced enormous opposition the message God had called him to preach. We read verses 7 – 8, which was a desperate call to God for help,

“You deceived me, Lord, and I was deceived; you overpowered me and prevailed.
I am ridiculed all day long; everyone mocks me. Whenever I speak, I cry out  proclaiming violence and destruction. So the word of the Lord has brought me insult and reproach all day long”.

 He goes on to speak of great inner anxiety in verse 9,

“But if I say, “I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name,”
his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot”.

 This is great inner turmoil that is driven by his hopeless situation as he explains in the next verse,

“I hear many whispering, “Terror on every side! Denounce him! Let’s denounce him!”
All my friends are waiting for me to slip, saying “Perhaps he will be deceived; then we will prevail over him and take our revenge on him.”

 This seems like a terrible situation that humanly speaking there is no escape yet Jeremiah says this in the next two verses,

“But the Lord is with me like a mighty warrior; so my persecutors will stumble and not prevail. They will fail and be thoroughly disgraced; their dishonour will never forgotten.

12 Lord Almighty, you who examine the righteous and probe the heart and mind, let me see your vengeance on them, for to you I have committed my cause”.

 This a perfect reflection of the writer of Psalm 94 words in verse 19a,

“When anxiety was great with me, your consolation brought joy to my soul”

 Even the concept of joy is Jeremiah 20 as verse 13 says,

“Sing to the Lord! Give praise to the Lord! He rescues the life of the needy from the hands of the wicked”.

 We cannot know for sure that the writer of Psalm 94 words of personal testimony of God’s help is the very experience of the prophet Jeremiah. Or we can say for sure is that they are very fitting to the experience of Jeremiah and help give us vivid picture of the kind of teaching they present to us.

When we face anxiety I life brought on by the pain and difficulty we might face from time to time we need to take the advice of Paul I have already mentioned in this Psalm talk from the words of Paul in Philippians 4: 8 -6 and 7,

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”.

 We need to learn to turn our anxieties into prayers.

  1. 20 – 23 GOD THE KING WHO JUDGES WILL SAVE AND PROTECT

                             HIS PEOPLE AND JUDGE THOSE WHO OPPOSE HIM

 We come then to the final section of this Psalm which wraps up this Psalms teaching on the theme of God the king who judges and offers even more encouraging words to those who face great opposition from wicked people who oppose the God of the bible.

I have broken this final section into two parts:

  1. 20 – 21   God the king who judges is over earthly kings
  2. 22 – 23   God the king who judges protects his faithful people

Lets then look a little closer at each of these final two parts of the Psalm;

  1. 20 – 21   God the king who judges is over earthly kings

Our writer of Psalm 94 then uses his last four verses of his Psalm to revise the message of his Psalm and these final verses of the Psalm are a worthy conclusion to the whole Psalm.

In the first part of his conclusion focuses on his wicked God of the bible -denying opponents and in this he even signals out one key member of these opponents the very King himself. He speaks of the king and his opposition to him and God’s faithful people in verse 20,

“Can a corrupt throne be allied with you – one that brings on misery by its decrees”.

 There were many times leading up to the exile in Babylon that a faithful believer in Israel or Judah was opposed by a corrupt and wicked king who had turned away from the God of the bible.

Jeremiah had problems with the kings of his day who not only opposed him and his message from God to him but sought to kill Jeremiah as well.

Jeremiah lived and ministered through five kings, Josiah, Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin and Zedekiah. All of these kings except for Josiah turned away from the God of the bible and acted in a wicked sinful way and also opposed the prophet Jeremiah who God sent to tell them that God had judged them for their many sins and that Judah would face the judgment of God through an invasion from a country from the North which became clear was Babylonia.

A good example of Jeremiah’s message to these kings is Jeremiah 22: 1 – 5,

“This is what the Lord says: “Go down to the palace of the king of Judah and proclaim this message there: ‘Hear the word of the Lord to you, king of Judah, you who sit on David’s throne—you, your officials and your people who come through these gates. This is what the Lord says: Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of the oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place. For if you are careful to carry out these commands, then kings who sit on David’s throne will come through the gates of this palace, riding in chariots and on horses, accompanied by their officials and their people. But if you do not obey these commands, declares the Lord, I swear by myself that this palace will become a ruin.’”

 A good example of the kings of Judah opposing Jeremiah and his message and threatening his very life is the time Jeremiah dictated God’s message of judgement for the King of Judah named Jehoiakim to his scribe Buruch and when the king heard the scroll read to him he cut it up in trips and burnt it and then in Jeremiah 36: 24 – 26,

“The king and all his attendants who heard all these words showed no fear, nor did they tear their clothes. 25 Even though Elnathan, Delaiah and Gemariah urged the king not to burn the scroll, he would not listen to them. 26 Instead, the king commanded Jerahmeel, a son of the king, Seraiah son of Azriel and Shelemiah son of Abdeel to arrest Baruch the scribe and Jeremiah the prophet. But the Lord had hidden them”.

 So verse 20 of Psalm 94 makes it clear that even the rich and powerful kings of this world stand under the Judgment of the God of the bible because as we saw from verse 2 he is the,

“Judge of the earth”.

 So a corrupt throne or king cannot be allied with God even though so many kings of the past acted as though God had given them a divine right to rule and they were like God on earth to rule as they pleased.

Corrupt kings verse 20 says only lead to,

“Misery by their decrees”

 Many kings of the past including of course Jeremiah’s day instituted laws or decrees that only lead to hardship and misery for the general population under their rules.

However the king of heaven and earth who is The Lord Jesus Christ rules his kingdom with love and righteousness and even though he will be opposed as king he will one day triumph over all opposition and reign as the King of Kings and Lord or Lords with his faithful followers by his side as we read in Revelation 17: 14,

 “They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.”

Then in verse 21 our writer speaks of those wicked opponents of God who oppose him banning together under this corrupt rule to oppose the true followers of the God of the bible and writes,

“They band together against the righteous and condemn the innocent to death”.

 We have seen how Jeremiah’s life was constantly under threat from the king and many others who were loyal to the kings wicked ways as they too practiced wicked deeds probably with the kings full support.

This banning together of evil forces to oppose God’s faithful people is all through the bible and continues on through the early church and the history of the church right up to this day. Paul says in Ephesians 6: 12 that we are involved in a great struggle against a powerful enemy in both a physical and spiritual dominion,

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms”.

 Satan and his forces ban together to seek to pull down and destroy God’s faithful followers but Paul says in Ephesians 6: 10 and 11,

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes”.

 Even though many faithful followers of the God of the bible have lost their lives as verse 21 suggests we must keep the words of Jesus in mind when he says, Matthew 10: 38 – 39,

“Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it”.

 And what he says in Matthew 10: 28,

“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell”.

  1. 22 – 23   God the king who judges protects his faithful people

Having just indicated at the end of verse 21 that those wicked people who oppose God and his people ban together to do this and even take the lives of some of these people our writer gives his testimony again that God, for him had protected him against these wicked God hating opponents and declares this in verse 23,

“But the Lord has become my fortress, and my God the rock in whom I can take refuge”.

 This very David like statement who also, like Jeremiah faced the constant threat of death from God’s enemies but who also often spoke of God protecting him in a similar fashion to how the writer of Psalm 94 speaks of in verse 22.

Listen to David using similar language in one of his Psalms, Psalm 18: verse 1 – 3,

“ I love you, Lord, my strength.The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;  my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,  my shield and the horn of my salvation,

my stronghold. I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I have been saved from my enemies”.

 I like Spurgeon’s comment on Psalm 94 verse 22,

“Let the wicked gather as they may, the psalmist is not afraid but sweetly sings, The Lord is my defence, and my God is the rock of my refuge. Firm as a rock is Jehovah’s love, and there do we betake ourselves for shelter. In him, even him alone, we find safety, let this world rage as it may, we ask not and from man, but are content to flee into the bosom of omnipotence”.

 One of my favourite hymn stories goes like this, Angustus Toplady around 1775 while on duty one Sunday as the local Anglican minister in Burrington Combe gorge area in North Somerset, England sheltered in a rock face from a fierce thunderstorm. As he sheltered under this large rock face he was inspired to write the first verse of his famous hymn, Rock of Ages on the back of a playing card he had in his pocket, that verse reads,

“Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy riven side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure,
Cleanse me from its guilt and power”

 We are safe in the arms of Christ; we are saved from the storms of death and judgment to come by the death of Christ on the cross.

We are able to go to Christ for help and protection at any time and in any situation, as he is our Saviour and Lord, our King. We can have the same assurance of God’s help and protection that Paul said he had in Christ in 2 Timothy 4: 18,

“The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen”.

 Then in the final verse the writer of Psalm 94 returns to his central theme of God the king who judges with the words of verse 23,

“He will repay them for their sins and destroy them for their wickedness; the Lord our God will destroy them”.

 This is also a good summary of the main message of the prophet Jeremiah who says something similar in Jeremiah 16: 18,

I will repay them double for their wickedness and their sin, because they have defiled my land with the lifeless forms of their vile images and have filled my inheritance with their detestable idols.”

 Our God the God of the bible is a king who judges and he will and must revenge the many sins of the people of this world. However the book of Jeremiah is not as a said to Mrs. Bushel all those years ago just about sin and judgment. It also contains a great message of hope as it looked to the coming of the Messiah who is The Lord Jesus Christ and it is on this message of hope I will bring my Psalm talk for Psalm 94 to a conclusion as we read in Jeremiah 23: 5 – 6,

 “The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The Lord Our Righteous Savoir”

 I close as usual with an original poem and a prayer:

 RISE UP O LORD AND JUDEGE THE EARTH

(Based on Psalm 94)

 Rise up O Lord and judge the earth

For sin is everywhere.

Pay back to those who turn on you

The wickedness they share.

 

For you O Lord are the Holy one

We see that in your word.

But many turn away from you

And oppose your people Lord.

 

Chorus:

Jesus is our only hope

He died to set us free.

So turn away from sin today

And you’ll rise in victory.

 

Rise up O Lord and judge the earth

For man has turned on you.

They steal and cheat and exploit the poor

And believe you do not view.

 

But you O Lord see all things

You gave us ears to hear.

You punish evil nations Lord

And through your word we fear.

 

Chorus:

Jesus is our only hope

He died to set us free.

So turn away from sin today

And you’ll rise in victory.

 

Rise up O Lord and judge the earth

Bless those who love you Lord

For you will not reject their love

But lead them by your word.

 

God will repay the sins of those

Who turn on him today.

But those who look to Jesus Christ

Will know his help each day.

 

Chorus:

Jesus is our only hope

He died to set us free.

So turn away from sin today

And you’ll rise in victory.

 

By; Jim Wenman

 

PRAYER:

 I thank you father who reigns in heaven that you are the judge of all the earth and I pray that your kingdom will come and all sin will be judged. Thank you for providing a way for us to escape your coming judgment through the death and resurrection of your only Son, Jesus Christ. Thank you that in him we not only escape from your coming judgment but have his wonderful help and protection in our daily lives. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.