Tuesday, May 21

The Roots of God's Justice

Transgression speaks to the wicked deep in their hearts; there is no fear of God before their eyes.
For they flatter themselves in their own eyes that their iniquity cannot be found out and hated.
The words of their mouths are mischief and deceit; they have ceased to act wisely and do good.
They plot mischief while on their beds; they are set on a way that is not good; they do not reject evil.
Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your judgments are like the great deep; you save humans and animals alike, O Lord.
—Psalm 36:1-6

Sinners and sin speak the same language. When the proud go deep and find the seat of their pride, they are satisfied. The pleasure they gain from their selfishness will never be called out, they think. They have everything they want and most of what others need, leaving the world unbalanced in their favor.

God's love and goodness are found far above the skies the wicked would pollute; the roots of God's justice thrive beneath the earth and water they would exploit for their selfish gains. Blessed as they are by those who

Monday, May 20

God Also Sees

You have seen, O Lord; do not be silent! O Lord, do not be far from me!
Wake up! Bestir yourself for my defense, for my cause, my God and my Lord!
Vindicate me, O Lord, my God, according to your righteousness, and do not let them rejoice over me.
Do not let them say to themselves, “Aha, we have our heart’s desire.” Do not let them say, “We have swallowed you up.”
Let all those who rejoice at my calamity be put to shame and confusion; let those who exalt themselves against me be clothed with shame and dishonor.
Let those who desire my vindication shout for joy and be glad, and say evermore, “Great is the Lord, who delights in the welfare of his servant.”
Then my tongue shall tell of your righteousness and of your praise all day long.
—Psalm 35:22-28

When the proud look at the meek, what they see is opportunism. How can I take advantage? How can I take revenge? How can I make myself look good? How can I humiliate? How can I profit? But "God also sees and takes notice of the cruelty and malice of those who feel a pleasure and gratification in seeing others

Sunday, May 19

The Great Congregation

Then I will thank you in the great congregation; in the mighty throng I will praise you.
—Psalm 35:18

"I can commune with God much better alone in nature than I can in a church with all those hypocrites." I can't tell you the number of times I've heard that one. And indeed it's nice to be alone. In nature, even. But to use one's own moral superiority as an excuse not to attend congregational worship is the height of arrogance, and displays the very hypocrisy decried in the opening statement.

Worship with others is not really optional for a member of the body of Christ. In worship, we're exposed to others' ideas. We're led to realize our own wrongdoings—things that, left to our own devices, we might not

Saturday, May 18

If Bones Could Talk

Then my soul shall rejoice in the Lord, exulting in his deliverance. 
All my bones shall say, “O Lord, who is like you? You deliver the weak from those too strong for them, the weak and needy from those who despoil them.”
—Psalm 35:9-10

If bones could talk, what would mine say? The psalmist's faith is so deep, that her or his bones extol God. Not just in body, but in the very frame that upholds the body, the psalmist praises the Defender of the weak and needy.

Today's faithful seem very far removed from the words of this psalm. Instead of being encouraged to share our plenty with those who have nothing, people in my culture are taught to expect even more—"blessings" that the vast majority of the people on earth cannot dream of. We pray for benefits for ourselves alone. And

Friday, May 17

It Is Enough

Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers them from them all.
—Psalm 34:19

I wonder what the "name-it-claim-it" preachers of the prosperity gospel do with this passage? It's nice to believe in deliverance from difficulties. But if I actually deny the existence of the difficulties, then what exactly am I being delivered from? Or if I believe the difficulties occurred in the first place due to a lack of righteousness or faith, then what makes my deliverance any different from a wicked person experiencing a run of good luck?

Troubles are real. And so is God's deliverance. To deny the existence of one is to render the other pointless at

Thursday, May 16

A Different Question

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit
—Psalm 34:18

It's popular these days to ask, "Why do bad things happen to good people?" But the Bible answers a different question. As Eugene Peterson wrote: "the wicked experience suffering as utter despair, the complete destruction of all that is important; the righteous experience it in nearness to God, who preserves his children through every adversity." *

In other words, "good" people shouldn't expect only good things to happen. But the twofold promise of God is that we (and seriously, how dare we call ourselves good?) will never experience them alone, and that they will

Wednesday, May 15

Seek Peace

Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.
—Psalm 34:14

There's movement in this verse. Evil is a place. To do something good or kind or even productive, I need to get out of there. I need to depart. Only then can I hunt for peace—an entity which exists outside of evil. But seeking it isn't enough. I must follow where it leads. It must become my goal.

Note that if it's my goal, peace is in control of me. I cannot dictate my terms for peace, but must accept peace