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Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Tuesday, April 7, 2015


 "O Jehovah, thou God to whom vengeance belongeth, Thou God to whom vengeance belongeth, shine forth.  Lift up thyself, thou judge of the earth: Render to the proud their desert.  Jehovah, how long shall the wicked, How long shall the wicked triumph?"  
Psalm 94:1-3

While I was doing my daily Bible reading, I came across Psalm 94.  As I read the Psalm and meditated on each word, it moved me deeply.  As I dig deeper into the Psalms not only does my knowledge of God and His Word deepen, but they draw me deeper into worship, understanding, and prayer. These are vital things that save my soul and draw me nearer to Him. In that quiet moment, I decided to write down some thoughts that I may strengthen my faith that at times faints and fails me when I am weak, in those days filled with anxieties, cares, and trials.  It is important to grasp the meaning of what I am studying better and put it to practice.  One thing that struck me about this psalm is that no matter how much wickedness, oppression, enemies and evildoers cloud our lives, we have the assurance that our Jehovah God will triumph and shine forth.  The wicked will not defeat us if we genuinely call on Him to deliver us.  Our Jehovah God will bless His people and punish evil doers.  What confidence, comfort and hope!

I would like to start with words of encouragement so that they may persuade us.

Psalm 94:1-3 - Jehovah God, shine forth!

“1 O Jehovah, thou God to whom vengeance belongeth, Thou God to whom vengeance belongeth, shine forth.  2 Lift up thyself, thou judge of the earth: Render to the proud their desert.  3 Jehovah, how long shall the wicked, How long shall the wicked triumph?”

The Psalmist appeals to God in the urgency of his heart.  He shows his feelings to His God.  He calls on Him for three reasons:  to shine forth, to lift up Himself and to render punishment.  Why?  Because God's  judicial infliction of righteousness is His revenge.  Because God shines forth in darkness, and as the Psalmist had cried out, darkness had taken over.  The Psalmist is petitioning His God to lift Himself up or to arise because it appeared to him that God was sleeping.  He wanted God to act and not be indifferent.  He wanted to be delivered from the hands of the evil doers.  He felt surrounded by them with no way out.  Does this sound familiar to you?  The Psalmist expresses his desire for the wicked to be stopped and not go free in triumph.  And since He knew that vengeance belongs to God alone, he wanted God to act by punishing the wicked.  The Psalmist cries out, "Jehovah, how long shall the wicked, How long shall the wicked triumph?"  Have you noticed how often criminals and evildoers seem to have more rights than you?  If you agree, then this is your Psalm to read as you pray for God's deliverance.  Isn't it outrageous that the atheist questions our God's goodness and existence for allowing these evil doers to get away with evil?  But, there is one big difference between the one who believes in God and the atheist.  And although the Psalmist wondered when God was going to rise up and act, he knew quite well that God exists and is working in our world on our behalf.  That is why he is pleading with Him to do the right thing and not hold back.

“4 They prate, they speak arrogantly: All the workers of iniquity boast themselves.  5 They break in pieces thy people, O Jehovah, And afflict thy heritage.  6 They slay the widow and the sojourner, And murder the fatherless.  7 And they say, Jehovah will not see, Neither will the God of Jacob consider.”

In verses 4-7, the Psalmist appears to be pleading with God to not allow the wicked to shine in their wickedness.  The wicked often appear to do evil freely or do as they please without any restraint.  In their freedom, they speak against our God, His Divine Word and His church.  Not only are they free to do as they please by insulting their Creator and His statutes, but seem to find delight in oppressing, crushing, destroying and breaking God's children.  They are a hindrance to us, God's children.  They afflict the widow, the stranger and the fatherless by taking them away from the care of the church.  The saddest part is that the church seems to agree on this.  And to make things worse, they seem to believe that God does not see the wickedness that they are doing.  They dare to say that God does not consider or understand what they are doing.  They go so far as to teach our children that God does not exist, misusing and perverting science to affirm evolution with no other purpose than to deny their Creator and His creation.  We see this happening in our public schools and our universities.  We wonder why our children curse and deny their Creator!  What they do is cruel.  It exceeds their wickedness.

“8 Consider, ye brutish among the people; And ye fools, when will ye be wise?  9 He that planted the ear, shall he not hear? He that formed the eye, shall he not see?  10 He that chastiseth the nations, shall not he correct, Even he that teacheth man knowledge?  11 Jehovah knoweth the thoughts of man, That they are vanity.”

In verses 8-11, the Psalmist is urging the wicked to shine in understanding and wisdom.  He does not understand because he does not care to know his God.  He tells the wicked to be wise in his understanding because he appears to be unaware that God is the Creator of everything.  Since He created the ear, He can hear what they say.  Likewise, since He created the eye, He is certainly able to see the wickedness that they do.  In like manner, our God teaches all men His knowledge. Therefore, He has all power and authority to rebuke everyone and correct the wicked.  He assures us that He can punish the wicked and all lawlessness.  Lest we forget, He Who created man, the ear, the eye and everything can with certainty know and search the heart of man and all his intentions.  He knows with certainty our thoughts.  He knows that man's thoughts are vain, fruitless.  We can be confident that wickedness is not going to triumph but fail, that one who tries to dispute with God is going to fail and that righteousness will eventually triumph over lawlessness.  And although, in his barren vanity, the wicked thinks in his heart that he is going to get away with his lawlessness, God is still in control, and He will chastise them.

“12 Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O Jehovah, And teachest out of thy law; 13 That thou mayest give him rest from the days of adversity, Until the pit be digged for the wicked.  14 For Jehovah will not cast off his people, Neither will he forsake his inheritance.  15 For judgment shall return unto righteousness; And all the upright in heart shall follow it.”

In verses 12-17, God wants to reassure us that He knows when His children shine.  The Psalmist is stating that God is blessing man by teaching him His Law in order that man may meditate on it with a willing and humble heart.  It is in doing this that man will learn from Him WHO created the heavens and the earth and knows all our thoughts.  Can there be a better or more eminent Teacher?  Imagine all the knowledge He is willing to give us from His written Word.  It is too much for me to fathom!  All that He has revealed to us from that same Word in order that we might obtain knowledge and wisdom and not perish.  Therefore, it is our duty to know the importance of that Word and to be determined to read it.  In verse 13, we see God's purpose in revealing His Law, His Word, to us.  Why?  Because it is His Word that instructs us to live righteously and godly.  It will give us rest and peace in the days of adversity.  For judgment will arrest the wicked when God puts them in the pit.  So, when you find yourself wondering, frustrated and discouraged about God's apparent lack of judgment on the wicked, you need to go back and read His revealed Word to know Him better.  This will be the only way to know with certainty that He will give you rest.  How do I know that?  Because He will not forsake or abandon those who do His will.  He will not forsake us, for we are His inheritance.  Such promise of assurance and rest!  Have you ever felt the way that the Psalmist did when he thought that God had abandoned him?  I have!  But, it is in such times that I must force myself to be conscious of all His precious promises He has given us, promises that reassure and strengthen our faith because we are His inheritance.  He has promised not to abandon us in the days of adversity, anxieties, cares, and trials.  And I believe with all of my heart that He will never break His promises.  They are what ought to motivate me and you to walk by faith and not by sight.

In time you and I will truly see judgment rendered for righteousness.  The upright in heart will follow righteousness.  It is their righteousness that makes them just, upright and honorable.  The word upright refers to posture or position.  How would the righteous, the guiltless and unashamed stand-up? They stand upright in spirit and heart.  What about the unrighteous, the guilty and the ashamed?   They can't stand upright!

“16 Who will rise up for me against the evil-doers? Who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity?”

The Psalmist surely knows the answer and expects us to know the same.  Who will rise up for us?  Surely, Our God will rise up for us!  No other god will help but the True God.

“17 Unless Jehovah had been my help, My soul had soon dwelt in silence.  18 When I said, My foot slippeth; Thy lovingkindness, O Jehovah, held me up.  19 In the multitude of my thoughts within me Thy comforts delight my soul.”

In verses 17-19, we clearly see that our God shines, that He is rising up and standing up against the wicked and all lawlessness, that He is our Ebenezer that Samuel spoke of in I Samuel 7.  In Samuel’s days, we see Israel during the darkest times of her history.  In those days, one of the fiercest enemies of the Jews, the Philistines, drew up in battle array against Israel, near Ebenezer.  As the battle spread, Israel was defeated and about four thousand men were killed on the battlefield, I Samuel 4:2.  Needless to say, the Israelites could not understand what was going on.  They did not understand that the spiritual decline of the nation was forfeiting the protection and victory of Jehovah God.  When the elders sent for the Ark of the Covenant at Shiloh and they saw it coming in to the camp, they all shouted with joy.  But there was a problem.  They were placing their trust in the magic of the Ark and not in the Almighty God Who dwelt above the Ark.  This time they lost 30,000 as well as the Ark, I Samuel 4:5-11.  God had given them conditional promises.  They had not kept or obeyed those conditions which were part of that covenant.  They had broken the covenant.  Since they had broken this covenant, God was not obligated to answer their prayers.

 In 1 Samuel 7:3-14, we read that Samuel tells Israel:

  • To return to their God with all their heart.
  • To remove their foreign gods from among them.
  • To direct their hearts to God, confessing their sins.
  • To serve God alone.  
All these things are part of repentance, brokenness.  Samuel promised them deliverance if they had a heart of true repentance.  So they met those conditions for deliverance.   Now in the midst of all that, Samuel assembled all Israel at Mizpah that he might pray for them.    They had pled for Samuel to pray for them since they feared another attack of the Philistines.  He offered a whole burnt-offering in worship, and he cried to the Lord for Israel, and the Lord answered Him.  As Samuel offered the sacrifice crying out to God for Israel, the Philistines were getting ready to attack Israel.  God fought for Israel that day!  He confused them on the battlefield.
“Now while Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines were gathering together to battle against Israel.  But God fought for Israel that day.  He thundered against them and confused them on the battlefield, so that they were badly beaten before Israel.”  

The LORD answered Samuel's prayer.   Let us consider God's answer to prayer and what Samuel did while he prayed to His God for their deliverance:

“Now when the Philistines heard that the sons of Israel had gathered to Mizpah, the lords of the Philistines went up against Israel. And when the sons of Israel heard it, they were afraid of the Philistines. Then the sons of Israel said to Samuel, 'Do not cease to cry to the Lord our God for us, that He may save us from the hand of the Philistines.'  Samuel took a suckling lamb and offered it for a whole burnt offering to the Lord; and Samuel cried to the Lord for Israel and the Lord answered him.  Now Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, and the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel. But the Lord thundered with a great thunder on that day against the Philistines and confused them, so that they were routed before Israel.  The men of Israel went out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines, and struck them down as far as below Beth-car.   Then Samuel took a stone and set it between Mizpah and Shen, and named it Ebenezer, saying, 'Thus far the Lord has helped us.'  So the Philistines were subdued and they did not come anymore within the border of Israel. And the hand of the Lord was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel.  The cities which the Philistines had taken from Israel were restored to Israel, from Ekron even to Gath; and Israel delivered their territory from the hand of the Philistines. So there was peace between Israel and the Amorites.'"  I Samuel 7:10-12

God answered Samuel's prayer and helped the Israelites because:
  • They had repented of their sin.
  • They confessed their sin.
  • They rededicated themselves to the LORD.
  • They humbly asked for prayer. 
  • They wanted the LORD to fight for them, acting on their behalf.
  • Therefore, they behaved in a manner of repentance, acting for Him.

Going back to the words of the Psalmist when he said, "17 Unless Jehovah had been my help, My soul had soon dwelt in silence.  18 When I said, My foot slippeth; Thy lovingkindness, O Jehovah, held me up.  19 In the multitude of my thoughts within me Thy comforts delight my soul." 

If the LORD does not help us, our souls will dwell in deep dark silence.  We will be hopeless!  It is disturbing for me to see so many people in this world that are lost and know not the LORD's rest and deliverance.  When life hurls wickedness at them, they are overwhelmed with life's adversities and anxieties   They seem to have no hope, rest, joy or deliverance for their lives.  This is sad!  Why?  Because they seem to be sinking in an irreversible silence and darkness.  However, the good news for those, who love their LORD, know Him and have learned from Him from the Sacred Text, is that they have their LORD as their Ebenezer, their Helper.  His mercies are new every morning.  Certainly His mercies carry and hold us up when our foot slips.  And although, we might have a multitude of anxieties and cares, we find delight, comfort, refuge and strength in the LORD.  How does He comfort us in the midst of our anxieties, trials, and cares?  By putting delight and joy into our souls, because we know and are confident that He will judge righteously.  We know that He rules.

“20 Shall the throne of wickedness have fellowship with thee, Which frameth mischief by statute?  21 They gather themselves together against the soul of the righteous, And condemn the innocent blood.  22 But Jehovah hath been my high tower, And my God the rock of my refuge.  23 And he hath brought upon them their own iniquity, And will cut them off in their own wickedness; Jehovah our God will cut them off.”

In verses 20-23, the LORD shines for the upright in heart and against the wicked one.  The Psalmist tries to reason with God's heart and thinking.  The Psalmist said, the LORD “conceived (frameth) the mischief by statute.”  In other translations, “the devices of evil by law,” which would imply that His throne has fellowship with wickedness.  The Psalmist knew God would not go for that.  So the question is, what evil were they conceiving by law?  The evil was in the laws they had made against the life of the righteous.  They condemned innocent blood.  In verses 22-23, we see the confidence the Psalmist is showing in the LORD, in His work.  He is confident that God will defend the cause of the righteous, that He is the Rock of our refuge, that we are safe in His providential care.  Not only will He protect us but with confidence we can say that He will cause the wicked or unrighteous to reap as they have sown, that He will cut them off in their wickedness.  Such powerful words of hope!  So why despair?  "Jehovah is on my side; I will not fear: What can man do unto me?"  Psalm 118:6

In all this, we see
  • The need to call on the LORD to carry out His justice.
  • To bring the wicked to judgment.
  • To learn from His Sacred Text and know Him better.
  • And follow all righteousness with an upright heart.  
  • Though painful, suffering is to be used as God’s training tool.
  • Everyone will be repaid.
  • No one gets away with anything. 
  • The wicked will be judged, and the righteous will be vindicated.
But we must also remember that
  • Vengeance belongs to the LORD.
  • That He is our Creator.  
  • That He knows the intentions of our heart and thoughts.  
  • That He is our Teacher and Master.
  • That He will give us rest.
  • That He will not abandon us.
  • That He will help you and me and hold us up.  
  • That He can carry us through. 
  • That hard times help us to learn the Way of the LORD. 
  • That the righteous find blessings in life’s difficulties and thorns.
  • That all these hard times, challenges and thorns will make us more reliant upon God.
  • That all this teaches us to be more diligent to follow God’s instructions. 
  • And finally, we must remember that He will cut off the wicked and their lawlessness. 

Let us meditate on what our LORD did for us by sending His only begotten Son to die for our sins.  He used His Son's death and His blood to save us from His judgment coming for the wicked.  The beauty of all this is that He has provided a rest for our dying souls.  Moreover, He has promised to give us rest from our days of anxiety, when they seem to overwhelm our hearts.  Why not take advantage of His death and blood?  Why be cast off and be judged by the Judge of all?  Why not admit that you have sinned and are in desperate need of a Savior to rescue you?

May the LORD rise and shine on us in our time of need that we may not lose heart.