Psalm 45-59 was written by several Psalters – the “sons of Korah,” Asaph, and David – at specific and various points in their history and lives. For example, chapter 45 is a love song, chapter 51 finds David in need of grace after incredible sin, and many of them were written in times of great difficulty for David when his enemies were pursuing him. What they have in common is that they each point to the main character, God, and His undeniable and unmatchable worth. They each also differentiate between the righteous man and the wicked, with perhaps surprising descriptions of the two contrasting characters. Narrowing down which verse to focus on for the purpose of this blog post has not been an easy task (there is so much depth of goodness within these pages), but perhaps this one summarizes it well…
scripture: psalm 58:11
…In seeing God’s vengeance against the wicked, the righteous will rejoice (Psalm 58:10), and
“Mankind will say, ‘Surely there is a reward for the righteous; surely there is a God who judges the earth’” (v. 11).
“The righteous” is not one who has never sinned, but one who has been given grace by God. When met by the incredible glory of God’s goodness, grace, and mercy, a broken and contrite heart is also a thankful, worshipping heart. Why should He have mercy on us? It’s because of who He is, the One whose love is steadfast. Those who have received His grace, are rewarded with a right relationship with Him. The righteous have no need to fear for they behold the works of the Lord, clap their hands and sing praises to God (for He is worthy), think on His steadfast love, rejoice over His judgments, are guided foreverby Him, are cleansed by Him, have access to His Presence, know Him, trust and thank Him forever, call to Him and are helped, redeemed, cleansed, and upheld, and sustained by God who is a refuge, fortress and strength for the righteous who will not be moved. The righteous concern themselves with God who is for them and not against them. The righteous are able to “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in all the earth” (Psalm 46:10). It is the Lord alone who will be exalted (Isa. 2:11; 17). This is not a passive stillness, but one that reveals trust and peace in Him.
Those described as “wicked” are also not passive. In their rebellion against God, they set themselves up against Him, and having foolish confidence they are shepherded by death (see Psalm 49). So what is their confidence in, if not God? Some are said to recite His statutes, implying some outward religious activity. Yet, God replies that He has no need that they can fill (if He was hungry He wouldn’t tell them, because everything already belongs to Him). They hate His discipline and love evil, and therefore have no right to recite His statutes (see Psalm 50). The vows of this man are worthless because instead of trusting in God, he “trusted in the abundance of his riches and sought refuge in his own destruction.” The wicked person is also described as a fool who says that there is no God, the unrighteous as one who does not set God before themselves. They do not change and fear God but violate His covenant, they do not cast their burdens on the Lord, call on Him, or wait for their salvation in Him. The time of judgment will come for those who set themselves up against God. Remember that He alone will be exalted in all the earth. In His judgement He will bring them down (see Psalm 52).
Many application points have emerged through this reading. Here are some of them:
Determine where you are with God. Are you relying on your own wealth, ability, possessions, or religious fervor, or are you putting your hope in and calling out to the One who saves?
No matter where you’ve been or what you’ve done (remember David’s sin and how God received his broken and contrite heart), know that you can turn to Him. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Offer God a sacrifice of thanksgiving for who He is and all He has done (see Psalm 50). He is worthy. Observe His works and rejoice!
Teach others God’s ways “and sinners will return to [Him]” (Psalm 51:13). We can do this when we know Him and have seen His grace in our own lives.
No matter what danger or trouble you face, no matter how big or small – cast your burdens on Him, and call to Him for refuge and strength.
My good Father, along with David, “I will sing of Your strength; I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning. For you have been to me a fortress and a refuge in the day of my distress. O my strength, I will sing praises to you, for you, O God, are my fortress, the God who shows me steadfast love. (Psalm 59:16-17).” Help us to keep our eyes on You, the author and perfecter of our faith. Convict our hearts quickly when we are turning away and forgetting who You are. We need You, and in our need we find our strength in You. Keep us from being foolishly confident in anything. May we be confident only in who You are and our hope in You that does not disappoint. Thank You that we can walk confidently in Your grace and live forever in Your love.