“God’s Word is the power of God
in the human heart.”
(Halley, p. 184)
Review of Part One. In Part One we saw that both Psalm 93 and 94 concern the sovereignty of God. Knowing that God is eternally sovereign and that He reigns supreme over all He created inspires awe, which leads to holiness. Holding fast to the truth that God is sovereign helps create a calm heart.
Outline of Part Two. Here is what we will cover in Part Two.
- The blessings of applying the psalms
- Psalm 94 – three possible applications
- Grace and mercy for today
- Mountaintop overview of Psalm 94
- Psalm 94, section by section
- Vengeance belongs to God.
- Who are “the stupid ones” among us?
- Whose thoughts are useless?
- Who are the blessed among us?
- How do we get that power to keep ourselves calm?
- Why does God want us to have this power?
- Though you may feel alone, you are never alone. He is with you always.
- God will administer justice.
- Your particular trials.
- Deconstruction and reconstruction.
- Your present circumstance.
12 Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is the man whom You discipline and instruct, O Lord, and teach out of Your law,
13 That You may give him power to keep himself calm in the days of adversity, until the [inevitable] pit of corruption is dug for the wicked.
14 For the Lord will not cast off nor spurn His people, neither will He abandon His heritage. (Psalm 94:12-14, AMPC, emphasis added)
As we explore Psalm 94, let’s keep in mind that it is connected with Psalm 93. The theme of both psalms is God’s majesty, the fact that He IS sovereign over all things at all times. These two psalms, I think, could be considered as one.
The blessings of applying the psalms. As a new believer, I heard someone explain that the truths in the Bible apply to my life, just as they applied to the lives of the writers of Scripture. No matter the trial or tribulation, I can pray the psalms with confidence that my God is fighting for me and will deliver me from all my troubles. What a comfort this has been!
“Many evils confront the [consistently] righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. (Psalm 34:19, AMPC)
Applying this psalm. R. T. Kendall said: “One must not try to make a parable stand evenly on all four legs. That means one must be cautious in trying to make every nuance of a parable have a special meaning.” (p. xxviii, The Midnight Cry.) All of a passage can apply to the actual situation discussed and at the same time parts of it can apply to other situations, especially the human heart. In Psalm 94, all the verses speak of God’s sure judgement on the wicked and His protection of the righteous during adversities. Most, if not all, the verses, also speak of God’s sovereignty over Satan’s attacks on the lives and hearts of His beloved little ones.
Psalm 94 – three possible applications. For me, this psalm applies at all levels of life. God’s nature is the same whether He is dealing with the world, a nation, or an individual. Satan’s nature—whom God always defeats!—is also the same whether he attacks the world or individuals.
With confidence that God will make a way, we can let our swords glint with the truths in this psalm:
- When world situations seem to be going badly and
- When external personal situations seem to be going badly, and
- When our internal world floods with doubt and fear and our grasp on hope weakens.
Even if we feel our grip on hope is slipping, God never, no never, no never relaxes His hold on us – most assuredly not! (Hebrews 13:5, AMPC)
Grace and mercy for today. Whatever the cause of a non-calm soul, Holy Spirit will comfort, counsel, and help us. He is our advocate and our intercessor and He will strengthen us (John 15:26, AMPC). In Psalm 94 we find grace and mercy to help us in our time of need.
I need to hear of God’s compassion for my humanness. I need to hear that He understands just how I feel, and that He does not condemn me for being human, rather that He is touched by and feels what I do. I need to hear that others through the centuries felt as overwhelmed as I do sometimes.
I need to hear God reassure me that His mercy and loving-kindness will hold me up—today, this moment (Psalm 94:18.) I need to be reminded that, as I lean on Him and trust Him, I can say to God: “In the multitude of my [anxious] thoughts within me, Your comforts cheer and delight my soul!” (Psalm 94:19). I need to lean on God. I need the strength and comfort that God put in His Word specifically for you and me, specifically for this very hour, for such a time as this. (Esther 4:14).
Mountaintop overview. Following is how I see Psalm 94 from a mountaintop perspective.
1-11: The psalmist pleads with God to give the wicked what they deserve.
12-15: I am blessed when God is training me because His training will give me power to keep myself calm in adversity, knowing that God will bring justice for me. So, I will not waste my life fretting or being in fear until that happens.
17-19: I was defenseless and very anxious in my heart and felt I was slipping, but now You, God, have taught me to stay calm and to let You comfort and cheer and delight me.
20-21: I know evildoers will not stay in power – they are not like You, God, Who truly are Sovereign.
22-23 : I will remain safe when I run to you and thus let You be my Refuge and my Defender. And I know You will wipe out the wicked by means of their own wickedness.
Psalm 94, section by section.
Vengeance belongs to God.
1-2 O Lord God, You to Whom vengeance belongs, O God, You to Whom vengeance belongs, shine forth! 2 Rise up, O Judge of the earth; render to the proud a fit compensation!
Here, the psalmist asks God to give his enemies the punishment they deserve and he acknowledges, twice, that vengeance belongs to God. Possessing the right and power to administer just punishments—vengeance—is part of God’s sovereignty. This is true regarding things happening in our world, in our personal worlds and in our souls.
People tend to remember first and last parts of messages. The certainty of God’s vengeance for His people is almost the last thing Moses reminded the Israelites of before he blessed each tribe, climbed Mount Nebo and died. On that day, Moses gave a long speech (Deuteronomy 12:1 to 33:29), that ended with his discourse on vengeance and a reminder about living by the Word. After reminding the Israelites of God’s vengeance, Moses reminded them that setting their hearts and minds on all the words he had taught them and teaching them to their children was their very life—not an “empty and worthless trifle.” Rather it was a valuable and precious treasure, a matter of life or death. By that, they would live long in the promised land. (v. 46-47).
To be victorious, to abide in the promised land today, that condition of life where we see God’s promises fulfilled in our life:
- We must keep our minds fixed on His sovereignty—which includes His sure vengeance. His vengeance against the enemy’s attacks on our life circumstance and our soul is just as certain as God’s vengeance against what the enemy does in the world.
- We must be careful to live by His Word and teach it to our children – as if our life and our children’s lives depended on it — because they do. If no children are under our influence, we must help other believers learn to live by His Word – by what we say and how we live.
God’s pending vengeance on the wicked – then and now. The psalmist says to God – look what the wicked are doing, arrogantly boasting of their power and afflicting God’s people and, by neglect, killing those who cannot defend themselves
3 Lord, how long shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked triumph and exult? 4 They pour out arrogant words, speaking hard things; all the evildoers boast loftily. 5 They crush Your people, O Lord, and afflict Your heritage. 6 They slay the widow and the transient stranger and murder the unprotected orphan. 7 Yet they say, The Lord does not see, neither does the God of Jacob notice it.
The pride and arrogance of wicked, godless world and national leaders comes from Satan himself. The defeated enemy of our souls is also proud and arrogant when he attacks God’s beloved ones through finances, health, relationships, and work. He is equally as vicious and deceived into believing he will win when he attacks our soul.
Who are “the stupid ones” among us? In verses 8 to 10, the psalmist says such people—all those who think God does not see them–are stupid.
8 Consider and understand, you stupid ones among the people! And you [self-confident] fools, when will you become wise? 9 He Who planted the ear, shall He not hear? He Who formed the eye, shall He not see? 10 He Who disciplines and instructs the nations, shall He not punish, He Who teaches man knowledge?
The psalmist, in wisdom, observes that God, Who made eyes and ears, sees and hears them. And this sovereign God who controls the nations of the world and Who is the source of all that is—this sovereign One will punish evil. And we know He makes even evil things turn out for the good of His children. “We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose. (Romans 8:28, AMPC)
God has a specific plan for each of us. And each day of our life is already decided by God before we were ever born. If we believe God is sovereign, this truth is easier to grasp. Ponder Psalm 139:16 –ponder all of Psalm 139! Then do it again!
Whose thoughts are useless?
11 The Lord knows the thoughts of man, that they are vain (empty and futile—only a breath).
This verse seems to conclude God’s statements in verses 8 through 10. This verse says it is not only the thoughts of the obviously wicked that are useless, but the thoughts of all mankind. Truly, without God we are nothing and can do nothing. Just as God hears and sees all we say and do, so He knows all we think and feel. (Psalm 139:4). Without Him, our thoughts have no power, serve no true purpose and are fleeting as breath. But . . .
Who are the blessed among us?
12 Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is the man whom You discipline and instruct, O Lord, and teach out of Your law, 13 That You may give him power to keep himself calm in the days of adversity, until the [inevitable] pit of corruption is dug for the wicked.
In contrast to the uncomfortable truth in verse 11 that our thoughts are useless, the psalmist then comforts us by explaining that our thoughts can be trained so that they become useful! God trains our minds and hearts – through discipline and instruction and teaching out of His law—SO THAT He can give us a very useful thing. That useful thing is the power to keep ourselves calm during adversity.
God’s dear children must learn to stay calm in trouble because: (1) Life in this fallen world includes “troubles, trials, distress, and frustration” (John 16:33) and (2) growing up into who God wants us to be in Christ is also includes “troubles, trials, distress, and frustration.” We are butterflies who must gain strength while struggling against the cocoon. Open the cocoon prematurely, and the butterfly dies. Let the potential butterfly struggle and it becomes a thing of beauty to all who behold it.
How do we get that power? How do we get that power to keep ourselves calm during any adversity? Through letting God discipline and instruct and teach us out of His law. It is a process.
A baby learns to walk through experience with the law of gravity. She takes a step, falls down, tries again and repeats the experience, acquiring a bit more balance and power with each fall. Babies must actually wobble and fall down. To learn to swim, you must actually be in the water, interacting with the laws of flotation and moving in water. Practicing swim strokes on dry land will not work. Children do not learn to save money until they actually feel the pinch of an empty piggy bank. Learning to keep ourselves calm in adversity, requires being in actual adversity! Selah, my soul (pause and calmly think of that.) O, selah!
Our compassionate Father teaches and trains us although the painful parts of training hurt His heart more than a human parent’s heart. He does that because He longs to bring us to maturity, to the point where we, like Israel, no longer depend on idols but rather on Him and Him alone. We must learn to say:
I don’t concern myself with matters too great or too awesome for me to grasp.
Instead, I have calmed and quieted myself, like a weaned child who no longer cries for its mother’s milk. Yes, like a weaned child is my soul within me. (Psalm 131:1b, 2, NLT)
Why does God want us to have this power? God does not want us to suffer unnecessarily. Also, it takes time for the cup of God’s wrath to be filled. Finally, adversity usually affects our heart, “out of which flow the issues of life.” (Proverbs 4:23). God says to guard our heart “above all else” and with all diligence. He wants us to stay calm in His arms while He carries us through life. Whether we feel it or not, He does carry us close to His heart – from birth to old age.
“Listen to me, descendants of Jacob,
all you who remain in Israel.
I have cared for you since you were born.
Yes, I carried you before you were born.
4 I will be your God throughout your lifetime—
until your hair is white with age.
I made you, and I will care for you.
I will carry you along and save you. (Isaiah 46:3-4, NLT)
Pause now and fix in your mind a picture of a small child carried close against his father’s chest. What do you see on that child’s face? Peace. Contentment. Safety. Security. Love. That is what God wants you to feel, no matter if He is carrying you over a raging river, across a dry dessert, through a pounding thunderstorm, or into a peaceful valley. You are safe in His arms. Oh, for the faith of a little child, that we may enter and dwell in the Kingdom.
“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” (Mark 10:14b-15, NIV.)
Though you may feel alone, you are never alone. He is with you always. (Joshua 1:9, Deuteronomy 31:6). We can find countless reassurances and examples of this truth in His Word. If we engrave His Word on our hearts, His Word will shield and fight for us when we are troubled. God does carry us, close to His heart, and He will work justice for us.
God WILL administer justice. Verse 14-15. We can be calm because we know God is fair and just and loving and He will bring about good for us. He is sovereign, He never forsakes us, and He will work justice.
14 For the Lord will not cast off nor spurn His people, neither will He abandon His heritage. 15 For justice will return to the [uncompromisingly] righteous, and all the upright in heart will follow it.
The more we know about God’s character, the calmer we can be. We can ponder the fact that just as much as vengeance belongs to the Lord, so do mercy and loving-kindness. We can ponder that, as the pit is inevitable for the wicked, even so is a loving result for those whom God is disciplining and instructing.
When facing adversity and affliction, we can rest in the truth that we are blessed because God will not leave us, and we will be treated fairly. Four facts seem to be part of the same thought in God’s mind. I believe He wants all four facts in our minds when we think about adversity.
- We are blessed, even in trials, because God will use every situation to train us. . .
- . . . because He wants us to have power to keep ourselves calm.
- He will never leave us and
- He will treat us fairly (much, much more than fairly!)
Your particular trials. The current world situation has led to exploding levels of depression and anxiety. Dealing with our world is the point of struggle for many. For others, the point of struggle involves what God is doing in our life and heart.
We all experience unsettled emotions throughout life. And the process of training—failing, falling and rising again—is the same regardless of whether we become unsettled because of the world at large, our personal external world or the world within that is our heart. We all go through the process of struggling against the weight of the world and sin outlined in Hebrews 12:1-12. Think about it.
God used world situations to develop character in those living during World War II, just as He used the enslavement in Egypt, the journey to the Promised Land, and the Roman persecution. He determines when we are born, and it is no accident you and I are living today. He will use every aspect of life in 2022 to train us.
Deconstruction and reconstruction. After forty plus years of gratefully walking with our loving Father, I have repeatedly experienced seasons of being deconstructed then reconstructed, those times when you think you have this Christian life going pretty well and then a wheel falls off. I can sit on the ground, crying over my scraped knee, feeling mad at God and my tricycle. I can sit and do nothing and let hope ebb out even faster than the blood running down my knee and thus open my mind to the lies of the enemy.
Or I can lift up my shield of faith, pick up my sword of truth and reach up to my tender and merciful Father. I can let Him comfort me and clean me up and do needed repairs on that wobbly wheel and axle. Then together, we can move forward on that special path of life He has prepared for me. Together, we can “make progress on the dangerous heights of testing and trouble.” (Psalm 18, especially verses 30-33, AMPC)
Friend, no matter what causes one of your wheels to fall off—a behavior or addiction you thought was defeated, sickness of a loved one, loss of your job, or things in this crazy world–God will use it for your good. Ponder the life of Job, of Joseph, of David and of Paul. “For God does not show favoritism” (Romans 12:11, NIV)
Your present circumstance. I once read:
“The present circumstance, which presses so hard against you, is the best-shaped tool in the Father’s hand to chisel you for eternity. Do not push away the instrument, lest you lose its work.” Anonymous.
Like that loving and wise mother watching her son struggle with his tricycle, God lets us endure what we must so we can be equipped to prosper in this world. And He feels each physical strain and pain, He knows each fearful thought. He keeps each and every tear in a bottle. (Psalm 56:8). Every tear? That is what God says.
God WILL bless us! Fellow struggling saint, we can rest assured that, no matter the source of our adversity, God will bless us if we fear and revere and worship Him. And He will be our sweet, oh so sweet, Companion.
Who is the man who reverently fears and worships the Lord? Him shall He teach in the way that he should choose. 13 He himself shall dwell at ease, and his offspring shall inherit the land. 14 The secret [of the sweet, satisfying companionship] of the Lord have they who fear (revere and worship) Him, and He will show them His covenant and reveal to them its [deep, inner] meaning. (Psalm 25:12-14, AMPC)
The love God feels for us is unutterably tender. It is unutterably powerful. He Who holds the world in His hands holds us. He Who watches over every sparrow watches over us and never sleeps. This sovereign, compassionate, merciful and loving One Who IS love, loves us with an undying love. Oh, how He loves you and me!
In Part Three, we will finish Psalm 94. The last section of Psalm 94 lets us see how holding to the truth of God’s sovereignty calms our heart, no matter the adversity.