Tuesday, July 11, 2023

2023.07.11 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 94:16–23

Read Psalm 94:16–23

Questions from the Scripture text: What has the psalmist wondered (Psalm 94:16)? What effect does the doubling of the question have? What/Who is the answer to the question (Psalm 94:17)? What if this had not been the answer? What was the psalmist himself unable to do (Psalm 94:18a, cf. Psalm 94:16b)? But Whose covenant-love not only stood, but also did what (Psalm 94:18b)? What other trouble was the psalmist having (Psalm 94:19a)? What did Yahweh’s comfort do for him in that case (verse 19b)? About what two things does the psalmist (rhetorically) ask if they can be joined together (Psalm 94:20)? What is the implied answer to the question? What do these evil authorities do (Psalm 94:21)? What has kept them from destroying the psalmist (Psalm 94:22)? What is sure to be the outcome instead (Psalm 94:23)?

When facing unashamed, powerful attackers, what help does the believer have? Psalm 94:16–23 looks forward to the opening portion of morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these eight verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the Lord often brings us through providence that forces to find Him alone as our help, strength, and joy, so that we will be assured that the future is determined not by our circumstances or abilities but by His character. 

Sometimes, providence brings us through situations in which there is no help coming from others. The questions in Psalm 94:16 convey this more intensely than a plain statement would have. We can feel the singer’s increasing desperation as he asks with no answer. But, Yahweh was his Help. It can actually be encouraging to be abandoned by all others, if the Spirit gives us to discover that, for us, it is enough that the Lord stands by us (cf. 2 Timothy 4:16–17). 

Often, providence brings us to an end of any help within ourselves. Again, the way Psalm 94:18 puts it is intense. “My foot slips” is the cry of someone finally giving in after trying to stand. It has just been too hard for too long, and though the slipping of the foot means sure destruction, his strength is giving way. And the answer now is not just that Yahweh Himself is his help, but that His ḥesed, His covenant-love, is his help. The help comes not merely by miraculous providence, but by merciful providence. It’s personal. In the pride of our independence, we would miss an opportunity to see that the Lord isn’t just helping us; He is loving us. 

Sometimes, we find even that we are making things worse for ourselves. In this case, the psalmist’s anxieties have been a countless mob within his heart. Again, the Lord’s answer is greater even than the problem. His comforts (consolations) do not merely neutralize the anxieties; they fill the psalmist’s soul with delight. I hope that you have found this to be the case, dear reader, that when providence (including and especially your own shortcomings) has turned you to the Lord in desperation, the Lord to Whom you have turned becomes a source of soul-pleasure. Thus, believers have found that grievous circumstances may result in deep and lasting spiritual sweetness. 

Then, there is also a providence that the vast majority of believers have experienced in this world: when the wicked are both in power (Psalm 94:20a) and ruthless (Psalm 94:21). But, power ultimately belongs to the Lord, and He will not tolerate for long their continuing with Him in it (Psalm 94:20b).He has been with us thus far (Psalm 94:22) and will be with us forever. And this means that however much they think they are destroying others, the reality is that the wicked are hurtling themselves unto destruction (Psalm 94:23). 

In what situation have you lacked helpers? In what situation have you lacked strength? In what circumstances have your own anxieties been a multitude of assailants from within you? Who can be your help, strength, and even delight in such situations? When have you found Him to be so in the past? What wicked ones are using even civil and legal authority for evil? What must be their end? 

Sample prayer: Lord, You have been our help, when there was no one else who would stand for us. Your covenant love has held us up, when our foot was slipping, and we did not have the strength to stand. Your comfort has delighted our souls, when we were making ourselves sick with anxiety. You are our defense and the rock of our refuge. Indeed, You are our God, and You have taken us as Your very own people. So by Your Spirit, help us to worship You, and receive that worship through Jesus Christ, we ask in His Name, AMEN! 

Suggested songs: ARP94B“Who For Me Withstands the Wicked” or TPH94A “Mighty LORD, the God of Vengeance”

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