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Psalm 94: The Psalmist Speaks When Society Sins

Introduction

The founding fathers of our country sought to establish a nation where men would be free to worship as they chose. Government was to protect man’s freedom to worship, not to infringe upon it. We now have come full circle. Today our government seems intent upon prohibiting religious groups such as the Gideons from distributing copies of the Bible to our school children, yet evolutionism and humanism are freely propagated and promoted in the classroom. In schools Bible reading and prayer is prohibited by government, yet it provides our children with birth control pills and pays for their abortions, while denying the parents of these children even the knowledge that such “services” are being furnished. Government now seems more inclined to prosecute religion than to protect it.

Such evils, while frustrating to Christians in our day, are not unique to 20th century America. The author of Psalm 94157 also lived in a time when his government was engaged in the promotion of evil and the persecution of the righteous. The wicked arrogantly furthered their own interests at the expense of those who were defenseless: the widows, the aliens, and the orphans (v. 6). Government had formed an evil alliance with these oppressors. Indeed, wickedness was even legislated (v. 20). The unjust of the psalmist’s day not only prospered, they seemed to prevail. The evil-doers were not forced to clandestine meetings and dark alleys; they congregated in the Congress and in the White House of the land.

The evils against which the psalmist protested were those which had been practiced over a considerable time (cf. v. 3). Apparently things had deteriorated to the point that the righteous were unable to reverse the trend. Protest no longer could be expected to change matters; at best it would be ignored and at worst it would result in scorn and persecution (cf. vv. 17,21). In spite of this, the psalmist boldly addressed God, the wicked, and the righteous. His words are as relevant to us today as they were to the people of his own day. Let us look carefully at this psalm for a word from God to those who dwell in a sinful society.

The Psalmist Speaks to God About Sinners
(94:1-7)

1 O LORD, God of vengeance; God of vengeance, shine forth! 2 Rise up, O Judge of the earth; Render recompense to the proud. 3 How long shall the wicked, O LORD, How long shall the wicked exult? 4 They pour forth words, they speak arrogantly; All who do wickedness vaunt themselves. 5 They crush Thy people, O LORD, And afflict Thy heritage. 6 They slay the widow and the stranger, And murder the orphans. 7 And they have said, “The LORD does not see, Nor does the God of Jacob pay heed.” (NASB)

The psalmist first addresses God regarding the wicked. The first seven verses of the psalm are addressed to God, petitioning Him to act to avenge the oppressed and punish the wicked. Verses 1-3 plead with God to judge the wicked because it is His responsibility to do so. The psalmist describes the evil deeds (vv. 4-6) and the feeble defense (v. 7) of the wicked, which are worthy of God’s wrath.

Verses 1-7 strongly imply that the psalmist believed God alone was able to correct the evils of his day. From a human perspective, the righteous have not been able to successfully resist the plots of the wicked, who now have the authority of the government behind them, or who, worse yet, are the government (vv. 20, 21). The twice used expression “how long” (v. 3) indicates that the conditions against which the psalmist protests were of some duration. God alone can handle this matter because men have not been successful in restraining evildoers.

Far more importantly, the psalmist calls upon God to act because it is His responsibility to do so. God is the “Judge of the earth” (v. 2), an expression found first in Genesis 18:25, and later in the Psalms (58:11; 82:8). In addition, God is called the “God of vengeance” twice in verse 1. Retribution is God’s responsibility: ‘Vengeance is Mine, and retribution’ (Deut. 32:35).

The expression “God of vengeance” may not accurately convey the psalmist’s meaning. As it stands thus translated we might conclude that God is vengeful.158 While wrath towards sin is one dimension of God’s character, it is not the sum total of His character. The King James Version seems to have caught the force of the psalmist’s words better by its rendering: “… God to whom vengeance belongeth.” By this we are informed that vengeance does belong to God and not to man. If there is to be retribution, let God perform it, for it is His responsibility. The psalmist understood this and therefore appealed to God to appear, to “shine forth,” manifesting Himself in power and glory and bringing justice to the earth (cf. Ps. 50:2; 80:1,19).

Vengeance is set forth as God’s responsibility in verses 1-3. In verses 4-7 the psalmist seeks to prove that vengeance is deserved by describing the deeds of the wicked. The evildoers were said to exult (v. 3). The Berkeley Version renders the wicked as “jubilant.” The idea seems to be that the wicked prevail, and they triumphantly rejoice. The wicked arrogantly flaunt their success (cf. v. 4).

The wicked also oppress and persecute men. They prey upon those for whom God has a special concern. The oppressed are God’s people, His heritage (v. 5). The victims of these cruel men are the helpless among God’s people: the widow, the orphan, and the sojourner (v. 6). The wicked have dared to touch the apple of God’s eye (cf. Exod. 22:21-24; Deut 32:10; Ps. 17:18). The psalmist is convinced that the oppression of the weak among God’s people is sufficient basis for God to appear and punish the evildoers.

The most distressing fact of all is that the wicked oppressors have gone so far as to impugn God’s character in order to excuse their evil deeds. They have attributed their prolonged success as sinners to God’s ignorance or indifference. “God does not see,” they claim, “and if He does, He must not care” (v. 7). Little wonder, then, that the psalmist appeals to God to act not only to defend His people, but also to vindicate His reputation.

Who are these wicked ones with whom the psalmist petitions God to deal? Are they the pagan unbelievers of other nations or are they the wicked unbelievers within Israel? I am inclined with others159 toward the view that the wicked described here are Israelites. In Psalm 50 the wicked are identified as God’s people (cf. vv. 4, 16-21). Many other Old Testament passages describe similar sins as the deeds of Israelites (cf. Isa. 1:23; Jer. 22:3; Ezek. 22:6-7; Amos 5:10-13; Zech. 7:8-12). In Psalm 94 the wicked speak of Yahweh as “the God of Jacob” (v. 7), and they are called the “senseless among the people” (v. 8). The arguments of verses 9-11 are more forceful to Israelites, not to pagans. Most likely, then, the wicked are the evildoers within the nation Israel.

The Psalmist Speaks to Sinners About God
(94:8-11)

8 Pay heed, you senseless among the people; And when will you understand, stupid ones? 9 He who planted the ear, does He not hear? He who formed the eye, does He not see? 10 He who chastens the nations, will He not rebuke, Even He who teaches man knowledge? 11 The LORD knows the thoughts of man, That they are a mere breath. (NASB)

In verses 1-7 the psalmist spoke to God about sinners. Now in verses 8-11 he turns and speaks to sinners about God. The psalmist attacks the wicked at their most vulnerable point. It seems that the cruel oppressors knew they were doing wrong, but justified themselves by passing part of the blame to God. “Sure,” they seem to have said, “We’re sinning, but why hasn’t God done anything about it?” “God either does not know or He doesn’t care.” “If God isn’t concerned about our sin, why should we worry about it?”

Bluntly, the psalmist calls the logic of the wicked “stupid” and “senseless” (v. 8). These same terms are employed in Psalm 92:6 to describe the wicked. “Senseless” emphasizes the brutish, beastly nature of those who reason in such a way. “Stupid” stresses the moral depravity of such men. The use of these words should have shocked those who were thus addressed.

Two lines of argumentation are employed by the psalmist to show just how stupid the reasoning of the wicked is. Verse 9 argues on the basis of men’s belief in God as the Creator. How can the God who gives men ears to hear not be capable of hearing Himself? How is it possible that the God who gives men eyes to see is unable to see their sinful deeds? To think that God does not see or hear their evil deeds is to ignore the fact that God is the One who enables men to see and hear. How can God not possess those abilities which He gives to men?

Verse 10 is based upon Israel’s belief in God as the One who chastens the nations. Israel had witnessed God’s chastening hand on the Egyptians at the exodus. The Israelites expected God to chasten the nations, especially if they oppressed God’s people (cf. Num. 21:21-25). God drove out the Canaanites because of their sinful deeds and gave their land to the Israelites (Deut. (9:4-5). God also warned His people that He would discipline them, just as He had the Canaanites (Deut. 8:19-20). Therefore, the psalmist reasons, if God does chasten the nations, how can the wicked think He will not rebuke His own people? If I as a parent will trouble myself to correct a neighbor child for doing wrong, will I not much more certainly correct my own child when he sins? Surely then God not only knows what the wicked are doing, but He can be expected to act in discipline.

The wicked have given their appraisal of God in verse 7: He neither knows nor cares what they do. Now, in response to such foolishness, God gives His opinion of man’s reasoning: “Lord knows the thoughts of man, that they are a mere breath” (v. 11). Such are the sinful thoughts of man. They are mere breath. Man’s foolish reasoning is only worthy of God’s disdain and ridicule.

Why would the psalmist trouble himself to respond to the wicked as he has done in verses 8-11? One possible reason is that he can hardly allow such stupid reasoning to pass without comment. The godly are obliged to show the folly of the excuses offered by sinful men. There may well be another more gracious reason for verses 8-11. Is it not possible that while the psalmist is appealing to God to come and pronounce judgment upon the wicked he is also appealing to the wicked to reconsider their sinful ways and repent? The argument of verses 8-11 certainly challenges the sinner to face up to the folly of his way, just as wisdom warns the foolish in the Book of Proverbs (cf. Prov. 1:20-33).

The Psalmist Speaks to the Righteous About God
(94:12-15)

12 Blessed is the man whom Thou dost chasten, O LORD, And dost teach out of Thy law; 13 That Thou mayest grant him relief from the days of adversity, Until a pit is dug for the wicked. 14 For the LORD will not abandon His people, Nor will He forsake His inheritance. 15 For judgment will again be righteous; And all the upright in heart will follow it. (NASB)

We should remember that in the psalmist’s day the wicked were not just prospering; they were prevailing. They were not only getting away with evil, they were governing, promoting evil from the highest offices of the land (v. 20). The wicked were oppressing the weak and persecuting the righteous (cf. v. 21). While the wicked needed a word of correction, the righteous needed a word of comfort. How could God allow them to be mistreated for such a long period of time? Why was God allowing them to suffer, and when would relief come? Verses 12-15 address the righteous providing some answers to these questions.

The terms “chasten” and “teach” found in verse 10 are employed in verse 12 but with a different meaning. While God chastens and teaches the nations in His wrath, He lovingly chastens His own people as His sons (Deut. 8:1-5; Prov. 3:12; Heb. 12:6). The inference of our text is that God accomplishes this chastening by employing the oppression of the wicked to instruct the godly. Other passages reveal that suffering is instrumental in the process of learning God’s law:

So I shall have an answer for him who reproaches me, for I trust in Thy word (Ps. 119:42).

Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Thy word (Ps. 119:67).

It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I may learn Thy statutes (Ps. 119:71).

I know, O Lord, that Thy judgments are righteous, and that in faithfulness Thou has afflicted me (Ps. 119:75).

Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers, a cruel and wicked act, yet he was later able to comfort his brothers with these words: “Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place? And as for you, you meant it for evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive” (Gen. 50:19b-20). Just as God allowed Joseph’s brothers to sin against him, for a good end unknown to them, so God also allows the wicked to promote His good purposes in the lives of His people. While not identical in thought, we read in Psalm 76:10: “For the wrath of man shall praise Thee.”

God chastens us (by means of wicked men) in order to teach us His law. One of the ways God’s law benefits us is by giving us “relief” in times of adversity: “Blessed is the man160 whom Thou dost chasten, O Lord, and dost teach out of Thy law; that Thou mayest grant him relief161 from the days of adversity, until a pit is dug for the wicked (vv. 12-13).

There is a sequence of events suggested in verses 12 and 13. God allows the wicked to prosper, which results in the chastening of the righteous. This chastening is a vital part of the teaching process, for in the midst of adversity we become much more attentive to God’s law. Learning God’s law gives the righteous “relief” or inner peace (cf. Ruth 3:18; Isa. 7:4; 30:15; 32:17) in the midst of adversity. Not only does God’s law enable us to find rest of soul in the days of adversity, it also assures us that in time to come (when a pit is dug for the wicked, v. 13) the wicked will receive their just “reward.” In this way the righteous find God faithful both to give peace in adversity and ultimately to give deliverance from adversity. God’s grace is sufficient to enable us to endure adversity as well as to escape it. The adversity we endure is the wrath of men. The adversity we escape, however, is the wrath of God on sinful men. Better to endure the former and to escape the latter.

There is a television commercial in which a mechanic says, “See me now or see me later.” The inference is that we will either pay for maintenance or for repairs, but sooner or later we will pay. There is a sense in which this is true of suffering. All men are required to suffer sooner or later. The righteous are privileged to suffer now so that they will not suffer later. The wicked may prosper now, but ultimately they will suffer the wrath of God for their sin. The point of the Book of Hebrews seems to be to encourage the saints to accept present suffering for righteousness’ sake so as to experience God’s eternal blessings. Moses is cited as one of the Old Testament examples of those who were willing to suffer now in order to experience blessing in the future:

By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God, than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin; considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward. By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen (Heb. 11:24-27).

Likewise, the apostle Paul considered present suffering a small thing in light of the eternal blessings of God: “For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison” (2 Cor. 4:17). Suffering the wrath of wicked men for a time, the psalmist teaches, is really a blessed privilege (v. 12). God teaches us His law, which produces blessed inner peace. It promises us ultimate deliverance, contrary to the wicked who prosper momentarily but perish ultimately.

Verses 14 and 15 both begin with an explanatory “for.” The man whom God chastens is truly blessed (v. 12), for the righteous can be absolutely confident of the promises of verses 12 and 13. The promises state that we will be able both to endure present adversity and to escape God’s judgment on the wicked. Notably we can find consolation and assurance in the fact that God will never abandon His people, nor will He forsake His inheritance162 (v. 14). Those who are being oppressed by the wicked are God’s own possession, His people (cf. v. 5). In a very special way the righteous Israelite belongs to God. God would never consider forsaking those with whom He has entered into such an intimate relationship. God’s nature is such that we can be assured of a day when righteousness will reign and when all the righteous will joyfully follow in the way of the upright (v. 15).

The Psalmist Speaks to Himself About God
(94:16-23)

16 Who will stand up for me against evildoers? Who will take his stand for me against those who do wickedness? 17 If the LORD had not been my help, My soul would soon have dwelt in the abode of silence. 18 If I should say, “My foot has slipped,” Thy lovingkindness, O LORD, will hold me up. 19 When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Thy consolations delight my soul. 20 Can a throne of destruction be allied with Thee, One which devises mischief by decree? 21 They band themselves together against the life of the righteous, And condemn the innocent to death. 22 But the LORD has been my stronghold, And my God the rock of my refuge. 23 And He has brought back their wickedness upon them, And will destroy them in their evil; The LORD our God will destroy them. (NASB)

I have chosen to depart from the paragraph divisions of the NASB here for two reasons. First, the Hebrew text indicates that verse 16 begins the next section rather than concluding verses 12-15. Secondly, verse 16 seems to fit best into the context of the final section. Verses 12-15 speak of God’s relationship to the righteous, “His people” (v. 14). Verses 16-23 focus upon God’s faithfulness to the psalmist personally and individually. Notice the continual reference in verses 17-23 to “me” and “my.” Likewise, verse 16 is written from the perspective of the psalmist, not from the more general viewpoint of the righteous: “Who will stand up for me?” In this last section then the psalmist speaks to himself, reminding himself of God’s faithfulness in the past and assuring himself of God’s trustworthiness in the future.

Verse 16 fittingly introduces the conclusion to this psalm: “Who will stand up for me against evildoers? Who will take his stand for me against those who do wickedness?” Initially, I thought the psalmist was inviting others who were righteous to join him in resisting evildoers. I now understand him to be saying, “No one but God is able to stand up for me.” The psalmist was right to take this matter to God in verses 1-7, for only God can and will deal with the wicked. The matter is simply too great for anyone else.163

The psalmist asks, somewhat rhetorically, “Who will stand up for me? Who will take a stand for me against the wicked?” The two expressions “stand up” and “take a stand” both refer to a powerful, purposeful defense and even beyond this, an attack launched against the wicked. When God “stands” it will signal that He is no longer going to tolerate sin. He will take action against the wicked (cf. Num. 10:35; Isa. 28:21; 33:10). My children know that it takes a great deal to get me out of my easy chair to act in discipline, but once I stand it is the beginning of the end. The psalmist is suggesting that when God stands up, look out!

When one “takes a stand” he is ready and able to “stand fast” and to hold his position (cf. Deut. 7:24; 9:2; 11:25; Josh. 1:5). Also, to “take a stand” is to prepare for battle, to get ready to wage an attack (cf. 1 Sam. 17:16; Ps. 2:2; Jer. 46:4). God alone can and will “arise” and “take a stand” against the wicked.

Rather than to criticize others who have not come to his defense, the psalmist confesses that he, too, is unable to stand apart from divine enablement: “If the Lord had not been my help, my soul would soon have dwelt in the abode of silence. If I should say, ‘My foot has slipped,’ Thy lovingkindness, O Lord, will hold me up” (vv. 17-18).

The “abode of silence” (v. 17) is a poetic reference to death. The Old Testament saint viewed death as a state of silence in which the believer was no longer able to praise God (Ps. 115:17). Here in Psalm 94:17 the psalmist speaks of death as a state of dwelling in silence. Had God not come to his rescue, the psalmist confesses, he would have been put to death long ago by his enemies. A similar poetic allusion to the imminent danger of death is found in verse 18, where he speaks of his foot nearly slipping. As elsewhere (cf. Deut. 32:35; Ps. 38:16; 73:2), losing one’s footing is equivalent to perishing. Even if the psalmist thought his destruction was inevitable, God would be there to uphold him.

More often than not the possibility of our destruction is more a figment of our imagination than a fact rooted in reality. Living in days of danger tends to make us fearful of whether our anxieties are well founded. God’s faithfulness not only delivers us from real danger, His consolations deliver us from dread and anxiety (v. 19).164 God is more than a mighty warrior, who stations Himself before us in times of battle. He is also a mighty counselor, who comforts us in times of mental distress. Such consolation comes from two major sources: (1) the promises of God’s Word (the law, v. 12); and (2) the protection He has personally provided for us in times past (v. 17). In verses 20-23 the psalmist ponders these things so as to find comfort in a time when evil men seem to prevail.

Verses 20 and 21 provide consolation to the psalmist as he contemplates the character of God in contrast to the conduct of the wicked: “Can a throne of destruction be allied with Thee, one which devises mischief by decree? They band themselves together against the life of the righteous, and condemn the innocent to death.” The wicked thus described are not a small minority within the nation. Indeed, they seem to be those who are in control of the government. They devise mischief “by decree”; that is, they actually pass laws which permit them to sin, or worse yet, which promote sin. The power of government is no longer employed to punish evil-doers, but to promote wickedness. God’s delay might be interpreted as some kind of approval of the administration of the wicked, almost an alliance. Certainly that is what the wicked suggested (cf. v. 7). But as the psalmist considers both the wickedness of these evil men and the goodness of God, he concludes that God cannot and will not form any kind of alliance with evildoers. Because they legislate sin and they mobilize government to oppress the righteous, God must ultimately deal with them in judgment.

Verses 22 and 23 summarize the confidence which the psalmist has in God, which gives him peace in times of peril and assures him that he has been right in leaving the fate of the wicked with God: “But the Lord has been my stronghold, and my God the rock of my refuge. And He has brought back their wickedness upon them, and will destroy them in their evil; the Lord our God will destroy them.”

The freedom with which the Hebrew language allows the poet to utilize the past tense leaves some room for differences in interpretation and translation here,165 but the force of the argument is unaffected by these differences. God has been faithful in the past and has proven Himself to be the stronghold and the refuge of the psalmist (v. 22). On the basis of this confidence, he can leave the destiny of the wicked to God, knowing that their ultimate destruction is certain no matter how long the delay (v. 23).

Conclusion

The most impressive feature of this psalm is its breadth and its balance concerning the attitudes and actions of the righteous in response to the wicked. The psalmist recognizes that revenge is not our responsibility, but God’s. Repaying men for their evil deeds is God’s responsibility. We may appeal to Him to act, knowing that He is the “Judge of the earth” (v. 2), that He is fully aware of men’s deeds, and that He is concerned with the welfare of His people and the upholding of His reputation. Committing the destiny (or the destruction) of the wicked to God is not only the right thing to do, it relieves the righteous of feelings of bitterness and hostility which are self-destructive.

Committing the fate of wicked men to God does not mean that we are to be entirely passive concerning evil. Verses 8-11 instruct us that we should speak out against evil and that we should seek to show the wicked the folly of their thoughts and deeds. I personally believe that leaving the punishment of the wicked in God’s hands also frees the righteous to appeal to the wicked to repent of their evil and to turn to God in faith. Evangelism is promoted by the righteous, who commit vengeance to God.

Committing the wicked to God’s care also clears the air in our understanding of His purpose for our lives in the midst of the prosperity of the wicked. Verses 12-15 instruct us that the psalmist had a good grasp of God’s present purposes for the righteous. Sinful men are still under the controlling hand of the sovereign God, who uses them to accomplish His purposes in the lives of His people. In affliction, the righteous learn God’s law in a personal and practical way. God gives peace to endure affliction and He gives deliverance from His wrath to escape future adversity when the wicked are punished. The psalmist has a proper perspective so that he encourages the righteous to persevere in times of suffering.

Finally, the psalmist is able to apply what he knows about God’s plan for the wicked and the righteous to his own life. God’s character and His purposes, as revealed in His Word, assure the saint that God will continue to care for His own, just as He has done in the past. The righteous can turn to no one else. God alone is our refuge and our strength.

Let us seek to think and to act as the psalmist has, especially in times such as ours when the wicked not only prosper, but prevail and persecute the righteous. Let us commit their destiny and their destruction to God. Let us commit ourselves to His keeping and His purposes. Let us draw strength from His Word and from His faithfulness in our lives. Furthermore, let us warn the wicked of the folly of their ways, seeking to turn them to God while there is yet time. God’s delay in dealing with the wicked is not only to accomplish His purposes in our lives (vv. 12-15) and to dig a pit for their destruction (v. 13), but also to give them time to repent (2 Pet. 3:9).


157 It should be noted that the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, does attribute this psalm to David, calling it “A Psalm of David, for the fourth day of the week,” but most scholars are inclined to question the accuracy of this superscription since it is not found in the Hebrew text.

158 God is a “God of vengeance,” cf. Ps. 9:12; Isa. 35:4; Jer. 51:56; Nah. 1:2. Nevertheless, we should not think of this dimension of His character as unworthy of Him. Leupold warns, “… this expression is not the outgrowth of an unworthy conception of God but rather an appeal to a function that He will from time to time exercise.… there are times when it must be exercised, and when such times come, the issue rests safely in the hands of Him who knows how to administer this difficult function.” H. C. Leupold, Exposition of Psalms (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House [reprint], 1969), p. 668.

159 “The miscreants involved do not appear to be heathen oppressors who have been afflicting a victimized people, but rather men from within Israel as many writers are now beginning to maintain in conformity especially with v. 8, as also in his day Luther strongly insisted: ‘In my opinion this psalm does not lament about the heathen but about the kings, princes, priests, and prophets and calls them fools among the people.’” Leupold, p. 668.

160 Interestingly, the Hebrew word rendered “man” here is not the usual term, but rather the term geber, which conveys the nuance of strength. The geber is a strong man (cf. Ps. 34:8; 40:4; 127:5; 128:4). The man who is made strong is the one who has been oppressed by the wicked but has been made strong by the Word of God.

161 Kidner writes, “Respite is hardly the meaning here; in any case the Hebrew word tends to be used of inward quietness in face of outward troubles (e.g. Is. 7:4, ‘be quiet and do not fear’; cf. Is. 30:15).” Derek Kidner, Psalms 73-150 (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1975), p. 342.

Perowne agrees: “In this sense the ‘rest’ is the rest of a calm, self-possessed spirit, as Is. vii.4, xxx.15, xxxii:17, lvii.20, and ‘to give him.’ = ‘that Thou mayest give him.’ Others interpret the ‘rest’ of external rest, deliverance from sufferings (comp. Job iii.13, 17); then ‘to give’ would be = ‘so as to give,’ etc.” J. J. Stewart Perowne, The Book of Psalms (Grand Rapids: Zondervan [reprint], 1976), II, p. 188.

162 The term “inheritance” is frequently used in the Old Testament for the land of Canaan which God has promised to give His people as an inheritance. But the same term is also used of Israel as God’s “inheritance,” stressing God’s vested interest in His people, Israel (cf. Deut. 4:20; 9:26,29; 1 Kings 8:51; Ps. 28:9; 33:12; 74:2; 106:5,40; Isa. 19:25; 47:6; Jer. 12:7-9; Mic. 7:14). Here in Psalm 94:5, 14 it is intended to emphasize God’s great concern for His people, which inclines Him to act on their behalf.

163 Kirkpatrick comments, “It is not a question of doubt or unbelief, but an emphatic form of assertion that Israel has no helper but Jehovah.” A. F. Kirkpatrick, The Book of Psalms (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House [reprint], 1982), p. 570.

164 The “anxious thoughts” of which the psalmist speaks are literally “divided or branching thoughts” (Perowne, II, p. 188). Kirkpatrick (p. 570) calls them, “… distracting thought which divide and perplex the mind.” This seems to be consistent with the faithless doubts of which James speaks (James 1:5-8); cf. also Ps. 139:23 and Job 4:13.

165 “The preterites here express, not so much what has already taken place, as the confidence of faith which looks upon that which shall be as if already accomplished.” Perowne, II, p. 189.

Related Topics: Hamartiology (Sin), Cultural Issues