>Feel like the wicked are doing a tap dance on your head? Read Psalm 94.
Many years ago, I heard a pastor use the tap dance illustration and the imagery has stuck in my mind. What an appropriate analogy for those times in life when you feel that evil beats your brain in an oppressive staccato rhythym of pain!
My New King James Version (NKJV) subtitles Psalm 94 “God the Refuge of the Righteous.” The subtitle in my English Standard Version (ESV) is “The LORD Will Not Forsake His People,” quoting from verse 14; while the prefatory remarks in my ESV Literary Study Bible are titled “Justice will return to the righteous,” a quote from verse 15.
Psalm 94 is, indeed, all about God the refuge of the righteous who does not forsake his people and will restore justice to them. It begins with a cry for vengeance:
O LORD, God of vengeance,
O God of vengeance, shine forth!
Rise up, O judge of the earth;
repay to the proud what they deserve! (ESV, 1-2)
Then it catalogs the evil deeds of the wicked:
O LORD, how long shall the wicked,
how long shall the wicked exult?
They pour out their arrogant words;
all the evildoers boast.
They crush your people, O LORD,
and afflict your heritage.
They kill the widow and the sojourner,
and murder the fatherless;
and they say, “The LORD does not see;
the God of Jacob does not perceive” (3-7).
Their belief that God doesn’t see their sin demonstrates their ignorance:
Understand, O dullest of the people!
Fools, when will you be wise?
He who planted the ear, does he not hear?
He who formed the eye, does he not see?
He who disciplines the nations, does he not rebuke?
He who teaches man knowledge—
the LORD—knows the thoughts of man,
that they are but a breath (8-11).
It is comforting to be assured of God’s sovereignty and omniscience as well as the brevity of wicked men, however, we don’t usually think of discipline as a blessing:
Blessed is the man whom you discipline, O LORD,
and whom you teach out of your law,
to give him rest from days of trouble,
until a pit is dug for the wicked (12-13).
It’s instructive that the sentence speaking of discipline as a blessing links discipline with biblical instruction and restful relief. This sentence also includes a promise that God will deal with the wicked. And God will not forget his people:
For the LORD will not forsake his people;
he will not abandon his heritage;
for justice will return to the righteous,
and all the upright in heart will follow it (14-15).
God will never leave us or forsake us. He will bring justice into our lives, enabling the “upright in heart” to follow the just path and the righteous way. The assurance that God will not abandon us is followed by a couple of rhetorical questions:
Who rises up for me against the wicked?
Who stands up for me against evildoers? (16).
The Psalmist reiterates the obvious answer by affirming his total dependence upon the Lord’s sustaining love:
If the LORD had not been my help,
my soul would soon have lived in the land of silence.
When I thought, “My foot slips,”
your steadfast love, O LORD, held me up (17-18).
Remembering God’s sovereignty, his omniscience, and his steadfastness enables the Psalmist to feel joy even when his heart is burdened:
When the cares of my heart are many,
your consolations cheer my soul (19).
That’s a good verse to write on a card and stick on your refrigerator or above your monitor!
Even under the oppression of evil leaders or governments, believers can take refuge in God and trust him to wipe out the wicked:
Can wicked rulers be allied with you,
those who frame injustice by statute?
They band together against the life of the righteous
and condemn the innocent to death.
But the LORD has become my stronghold,
and my God the rock of my refuge.
He will bring back on them their iniquity
and wipe them out for their wickedness;
the LORD our God will wipe them out (20-23).
Evil people may seem to have the upper hand. They may go on shooting rampages or enact unjust laws. But God is our stronghold; he is the rock of our refuge. When the cares of your heart are many, remember that God’s steadfast love sustains you. Let his consolations cheer your soul. He will not forsake his people or abandon his heritage. Justice will return to the righteous!