Do these phrases sound familiar?
- The foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?
- The faithful have vanished from among men
- Everyone lies to his neighbor
- The boastful say, “We will triumph with our tongues”
- The wicked freely strut about when what is vile is honored among men
This could be said today in my neighborhood. And 20 years ago in Washington DC. And 500 years ago in Europe. But it was said over 3000 years ago!
In times like these it’s important to remember that there have always been times like these!
In the United States, elections bring regular changes in leadership. Around the world and throughout history violent dictators are toppled, benevolent monarchies fall, dominate personalities shine brightly and fade from the scene, even people who called themselves “Great” or “the king of kings” have disappeared. What should our perspective be in changing cultures—whether they are good or evil?
In Psalms 9-12, David shares some timeless reminders.
In Psalm 9, he contrasts the temporary track record of mortals with the transcendency of Yahweh. His Selah pauses in this psalm invite us to consider the question: Who benefits me ultimately and affects me eternally: mortals or God?
In the Septuagint, Psalms 9 and 10 make up one psalm. In our English Bible, Psalm 9 closes with the phrase “they are but men” and Psalm 10 closes by calling mankind “mere earthly mortals.” Contrast that with Yahweh who is described as “the LORD reigns forever” and “the LORD is King for ever and ever.”
In between these eternal affirmations of God, mere earthly mortals are described as:
- boastful—literally saying “hallelujah” to themselves
- blessing all who are like them in their wicked thoughts
- having no room in their thoughts for God
- even praying to themselves—which is the literal meaning of “he says to himself” that David repeats three times
Literally this mere earthly mortal thinks of himself as god! But even as he says “nothing will ever hurt me while I’m alive” he acknowledges his mortality, admitting that he is indeed finite.
In Psalms 11 and 12, David gives the righteous the proper perspective to handle all of this. In a word, David wants the godly to remember:
- Remember God sees everything
- Remember God punishes the wicked and rewards the righteous
- Remember God gets the final word
Christians can only live exemplary, anxiety-free, and God-honoring lives when we stay focused on the Infinite, on the Eternal God. With this perspective we can live out our roles as “aliens and strangers”—as the apostle Peter calls us—while we live in this evil culture.
August 23, 2021 at 6:01 am
[…] an important principle to keep in mind: In times like these, we need to remember there have always been times like these. Especially because the psalmist Asaph, Jesus, and the apostle Paul all forewarned us about […]