The wickedness of the ungodly cannot annul the faithfulness of the Lord to His children.
HYMN: STAND UP, STAND UP FOR JESUS
TEXT: Psalms 36:1-12
There seems to be some measure of glamor that goes with wicked ways and behaviors today that few persons shudder with a response like, “the Lord certainly must be very displeased”. That is because the fear of God is less widespread. People will rather do things on the basis of their comforts regardless of who is hurt and how God views those actions. While on a global scale there is injustice, man’s inhuman treatment of his fellow man, inequality, immortality, etc., within the confines of our homes, offices, workplaces, market placed, church congregations, there are miniature replications of these global trends. We need not, therefore, be too loud at raising our voices at the killings in Sierra, Leone, Somalia, and the United States among others, but take some time to examine our hearts the way we, for instance, assassinate the character of a colleague through gossip. Then, with David, we will come to appreciate the attributes of the Lord and a holy fear of God will mold our actions.
Psalm 36 gains our attention today, bringing to focus the ways of the ungodly that are contrasted by the divine personally of God – the just, loving, faithful, and righteous and mighty God. With some element of naivety, the wicked would not appreciate how the Lord graciously bestows on both the godly and ungodly His divine attributes. David prays, “Continue your love to those who know you”, Psalm 36:10a, NIV, and that is a great comfort for the godly at heart. The prayer is answered and the wicked are uprooted. Here is wisdom, “he who has an ear to hear, let him take this to heart”.
The objectives of this study are:
1. To identify the ways of the wicked.
2. To know some of the attributes of God.
3. To know how God’s attributes are reflected in His dealings with man.
4. To know that the Lord hears the prayers of the righteous.
5. To know that the righteous are preserved from the works of the wicked.
1. HOW DOES DAVID’S DESCRIPTION OF THE GODLESS FIT TODAY’S UNGODLY MAN?
David described the ungodly as on who does not fear the Lord, deceives himself into the believing that he does nothing wrong, uses his mouth to contrive evil and to deceive others, lacks wisdom and discretion, takes every opportunity, even on the comfort of his bed, to conceive evil deeds, pursues a course to execute his evil ways, and fails to reject that which is wrong, Psalm 36:1-4. This description of the ungodly is aptly summarized by the observation made by the Lord of Noah’s generation: “And God saw the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of his heart was only evil continually”, Genesis 6:5. What comes to mind is that the character of the ungodly has remain unchanged from generation of generation. Even on the verge of the 21st century and with all the refinements that men and women seem to have undergone, the character of the individual without Christ has remained the same.
Today’s ungodly reject the simple gospel message of salvation and redemption through the sacrifice of Christ on Calvary but chooses rather to do that which seems right to his senses which are perverted by sin and the devil, Proverbs 14:12. Some ungodly today believe what they are told by various occult groups that they need to develop the inner man to attain higher levels of purity and be closer to their Maker. That would have been true if in the first place the inner person was not corrupted by sin. How many of us have made an effort to try to reverse the state of a sour soup to one that we an eat again? It is simply a frustrating experience. That is how frustrating it is trying to refine the human heart by human effort. It must be regenerated and reborn by the creative power of God’s Word for it to reflect the newness of life in Christ.
If there is anything that is different between the ungodly as described by David and the ungodly of contemporary times, it is none other than the level of sophistication with which today’s ungodly imagine, contrive and execute their ungodly acts. He has more tools at his disposal. On the global level, they range from modern-day amour to computers to internet facilities, while on the individual level, modern tools of communication like telephone and associated accessories are readily used. Many ungodly persons are at the forefront of fighting for human rights issues, condemning war crimes done by various individuals in various countries, and clamoring for social and economic justice worldwide, but those same individuals will not frown at their unfaithfulness to their spouses or the inhumane way they treat them, nor at the harm they cause their neighbors, fellow work mates, and acquaintances, nor at the “white and small lies”, they tell from time to time, nor at the cover-ups of their criminal acts, not at cheating others, nor at blackmailing others, nor at killing the unborn child in the womb. It is these personal evils that we need to address. When we do sincerely address them and seek to help of the Lord, our lives are transformed into the image of Christ.
2. WHAT IS THE ROOT CAUSE OF AN UNGODLY LIFE?
The second half of verse 1 of Psalm 36 provides us some clue to the answer of this question: “There is no fear of God before his eyes.” It is not uncommon to see people who go to church on a regular basis live an ungodly life simply because they do not honor the Lord and hold Him in awe and reverence in their hearts. Even some who minister on the pulpit do not fear Him. This was the case of the two sons of Eli, Hopni and Phinehas: “Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial: they know not the Lord. Now Eli as very old, and heard that his sons did unto all Israel; and how they lay with the women that assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation”, 1 Samuel 2:12,12. When a person does not have the fear of God in his heart, his ways are bound to be ungodly.
What then is the fear of the Lord? It is an attitude of the heart that acknowledges the Lordship of Christ in all aspects of life. It is not a fear that causes an individual to feel the Lord is always around the corner to destroy for any act of wrong, but it is one that honors and appreciates Him. It is that kind of godly fear that prompts godly living.
3. WHAT ARE THE ATTRIBUTES OF THE LORD EXTOLLED BY DAVID IN THIS PSALM?
Coming just after describing the ungodly, David extols some divine attributes of the Lord. One of such attributes is love. Of God’s love, David makes us to understand that it is all encompassing and embracing (verse 5), priceless and unfailing (verse 7). God’s love reaches to everyone: “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we yet sinners, Christ died for us”, Romans 5:8. It is God’s love that makes it possible to receive God’s forgiveness, mercy and redemption. God’s love is available to save the vilest sinner. God’s love is treasured by the saints because they know that nothing on earth or in the heavens can separate the believer from the love of God, Romans 8:37-39. Love does not fail, and so is the Lord’s, 1 Corinthians 13:8. God’s love can be truste3d to be available under any circumstances and situations. God’s love is priceless and it is expressed in the blood of Christ shed on Calvary. Because of the loving nature of the Lord, the believer enjoys divine protection: “Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of your wings” (verse 7), divine providence: “they feast in the abundance of your house” (verse 8), and divine satisfaction: “For with you is the fountain of life” (verse 9).
Another attribute of the Lord is His faithfulness. “Your faithfulness (reaches) to the skies” (verse 5b). The Lord, His word and promises can be trusted because He is faithful. The Lord does not renege on any of his promises. He is faithful to all who put their trust in Him.
God is righteous: “Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains”, verse 6. The Lord does right in all His ways and abhors all evil. Righteousness is the Lord’s clothing; it is the foundation with which His throne is established, Psalm 97:2. The natural implication of all this is that if we would walk with God we must love righteousness and abhor evil.
God is just: “Your justice is like the great deep”, verse 6. The just nature of the Lord goes hand-in-hand with His righteousness. He not only does what is right, but his judgements are just and impartial. Those who reject His love today would be without any excuse when they face His judgement. God’s loving nature does not contradict His just nature that demands a punishment similar to that given to the devil for all those who align themselves with him.
God is light: “in your light we see light”, verse 9. 1 John 1:5 tells us, “God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all.” Those who walk with God walk in His light, and they are saved from being entrapped by the snares of the devil. His light in the believer dispels all works of darkness.
4. WHAT WAS DAVID’S PRAYER FOR THE RIGHTEOUS?
David prayed that the Lord will continue to shower His love upon His children so that they are saved from the works of the proud and wicked. It was a prayer that certainly received God’s approval because it simply re-affirmed the promises of God to His people. For instance, there is nothing that will cause the Lord to cease to show His love to His beloved children. It is instructive to follow this pattern of prayer that David adopted – that of re-affirming God’s promises. “Dear Lord, You are the One who heal my body because by Your stripes I am healed. You’ve provided the fees needed for my children’s schooling because You are my Shepherd and I shall lack no good thing. As we sleep tonight, we are protected from all attacks of night marauders because we know that Your angels encamp about us to protect us from evil.” Because our God is faithful, we can be certain that prayers utter in faith that are in line with His promises will be answered.
5. WHAT ENCOURAGEMENT CAN THE BELEIVER DERIVE FROM DAVID’S PRAYER?
The last verse of Psalm 36 suggests that David had received an answer to his prayers, “See how the evildoers lie fallen – thrown down, not able to rise.” That certainly is the outcome of any plat by ungodly persons against believers. It is comforting to know that the Lord cares for His children to the extent that He will not allow the wicked to triumph over them. “The Lord surely will sustain us and He will not let the righteous fall”, Psalm 55:22. What this means is that the believer should not under any circumstances compromise his integrity in the face of pressures, trials and temptations inflicted by the devil and his agents. The outcome of such assault is known before it ever started – defeat for the devil and his human agents but victory for the believer. That is comforting to know.
The kind of victory that the Lord grants His children is a resounding one. The wicked are overthrown and are unable to rise again. Whenever Satan raises his ugly head next time, there should be o cause for alarm but a preparation for a great celebration in anticipation for his defeat. That should be our attitude as believers.
DAILY LIVING APPLICATION
The stage is set! There is a mock script which evil doers and ungodly individuals present, giving an impression that they are in charge. They seem to go unimpeded from on level of wickedness to another – cheating, stealing, lying, deceiving, killing, maiming, fornicating, engaging in idol worship, consulting the spirits of the dead, etc. At the same time the real scene is in display – a great and awesome God, gracious in mercy, loving and caring, righteous in all His ways, just, true and faithful. The ungodly continues in his deceit failing to acknowledge the Lord as God and refusing to turn from his evil ways. As sure at the sun that rises in the morning and sets in the evening. The ungodly shall be brought down and completely routed. Those who align themselves with our great and mighty God will bask continually in His love and they shall not be overtaken by the evil one.
“But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God: I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever.”
DAILY DEVOTIONAL GUIDE
Mon: The ways of the ungodly.
Tue: The ungodly are deceived to believe the lies of the man of sin.
2 Thessalonians 2:7-12
Wed: Our God is great in mercy.
Thu: Who is like Thee.
Fri: Our God answer prayers.
2 Chronicles 20:1-23
Sat: The wicked are brought down.