I have been reading through the psalms for my devotions (though not very consistently). There has been a recurring theme which has cropped up, that of evaluation. The Psalmist is either writing about a time, or is now in a place where he is risking total failure and tragedy by banking on the Lord. Whether it is physical danger, or envy of the wicked prospering by breaking the Lord’s law, it seems like the psalmist is consistently pressed by the question; is it worthwhile for me to trust the Lord? Will he come through? Are his promises true?
These questions are asked from a stance of obedience and current risk, and not from a removed and disobedient posture. These are not unbelieving doubts, but faithful worries. There are many examples where the success of the king or the people of Israel is at stake and the Psalmist is crying out for God to be true to his covenant and to prosper his people in the face of the enemies. The wicked and the enemies of the psalms seem to occupy the envied position of prosperity and independence. But the worldly evaluation of the wicked’s strength and immutability is washed away and turned upside down in God’s presence or in light of some facet of God’s promise. Psalm 73 seems to stand out as the clearest example:
1Truly God is good to(B) Israel,
to those who are(C) pure in heart.
2But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled,
when I saw the(F) prosperity of the wicked.
4For they have no pangs until death;
their bodies are fat and sleek.
5They are not in trouble as others are;
their hearts overflow with follies.
8They scoff and(K) speak with malice;
loftily they threaten oppression.
9They set their mouths against the heavens,
and their tongue struts through the earth.
10Therefore his people turn back to them,
Is there knowledge in the Most High?"
12Behold, these are the wicked;
I would have betrayed(T) the generation of your children.
16But when I thought how to understand this,
then I discerned their(W) end.
18Truly you set them in(X) slippery places;
you make them fall to ruin.
19How they are destroyed(Y) in a moment,
O Lord, when(AB) you rouse yourself, you despise them as phantoms.
21When my soul was embittered,
when I was pricked in heart,
22I was(AC) brutish and ignorant;
I was like(AD) a beast toward you.
23Nevertheless, I am continually with you;
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
26(AI) My flesh and my heart may fail,
27For behold, those who are(AM) far from you shall perish;
I have made the Lord GOD my(AP) refuge,
that I may(AQ) tell of all your works.
Can you think of any other psalms in which the author has a similar burden on his mind?