Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Wicked, the Righteous and the Race

[A Psalm of David the servant of the LORD]

1 The transgression of the wicked saith within my heart, that there is no fear of God before his eyes.

2 For he flattereth himself in his own eyes, until his iniquity be found to be hateful.

3 The words of his mouth are iniquity and deceit: he hath left off to be wise, and to do good.

4 He deviseth mischief upon his bed; he setteth himself in a way that is not good; he abhorreth not evil.

5 Thy mercy, O LORD, is in the heavens; and thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds.

6 Thy righteousness is like the great mountains; thy judgments are a great deep: O LORD, thou preservest man and beast.

7 How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings.

8 They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house; and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures.

9 For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light.

10 O continue thy lovingkindness unto them that know thee; and thy righteousness to the upright in heart.

11 Let not the foot of pride come against me, and let not the hand of the wicked remove me.

12 There are the workers of iniquity fallen: they are cast down, and shall not be able to rise.

—Psalm 36 KJV Bible

This is a psalm of David, he describes the attempts of the wicked to bring down mankind and God's work to save and protect mankind. David opens by describing the evil schemes of the wicked. David then voices praise in a superscription of the attributes of God working in behalf of mankind’s salvation. Finally, David asks God to continue His protective love with a confidence that the wicked will ultimately be defeated.

The psalm superscription references David as the “servant of the LORD.” This title was given to David by God following David's anointing by Samuel (1 Samuel 17:13). As God's chosen king over Israel, David was God's servant. David was often reminded of this when asked by God to do specific tasks, such as those described in 2 Samuel 3:18, 2 Samuel 7:5 and 2 Samuel 8. David's use of the title in the psalm superscription may be a reminder to the people that David has tried to be faithful in those tasks that God has asked of David.

In verses 1 through 4, David describes the the evil schemes of wicked. For verse 1, a better translation would be that Transgression, personified as an oracle, speaks deeply into the heart of the wicked in the same way that God speaks into the heart. But those who listen to Transgression deceive themselves into not having a reverential fear of God and what God can do.

In verses 5 through 9, David voices praise in a superscription of the attributes of God working in behalf of mankind’s salvation. In verse 7, David describes how children can trust in God's protection, in the "shadow" of God's "wings." With this imagery, David compares the faithful love of God to a mother bird caring for and protecting her young.

In verses 5, 7 and 10, David describes the "mercy" and “lovingkindness” of God. In each case David uses the Hebrew “hesed,” meaning the loyal, long-lasting love, or the covenant faithfulness.

In verses 10 and 11 David asks God to continue His protective love. David describe himself as running in a race with pride and wickedness. They try to bring David down and defeat him by tripping him and pulling on him, preventing David from reaching the finish line.

In verse 12, David expresses confidence that the wicked will ultimately be defeated. They will fall and not be able to finish the race.

Father, I seem to be distracted and tripped up by so many things. At times I hear the call to do things that seem right to me, but that do not honor You. Help me to stay upright and to finish the race.


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