Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Ways of the Wicked (Psalm 36)

"An oracle within my heart concerning the transgression of the wicked: There is no fear of God before his eyes" (Psalm 36:1).

David had been grievously harassed by ungodly men during his life, and he frequently complained to God of their depravity. All of us can identify with David’s grievances as we witness the moral decay of our own society. David’s meditations serve to help God’s people discern the ways of the unredeemed and to present these concerns to the Lord. Such is the picture David paints for us in Psalm 36 as he describes the ways of the wicked.

While David is faithful in submitting his complaints to God concerning the ungodliness in the world, he does not dwell on this tragic scene for long. As if to clear his mind of the abominations of men, he interrupts his contemplation of the ungodly and turns his thoughts heavenward to dwell on the glorious attributes of God. Calvin comments on this turn in David’s prayer: “It usually happens, that in condemning the wicked the contagion of their malice insinuates itself into our minds when we are not conscious of it; and there is scarcely one in a hundred who, after having complained of the malice of others, keeps himself in true godliness, pure and unpolluted. The meaning therefore is, although we may see among men a sad and frightful confusion, which, like a great gulf, would swallow up the minds of the godly, David, nevertheless, maintains that the world is full of the goodness and righteousness of God, and that He governs heaven and earth on the strictest principles of equity. And certainty, wherever the corruption of the world affects our minds and fills us with amazement we must take care not to limit our views to the wickedness of men who overturn and confound all things; but in the midst of this strange confusion, it becomes us to elevate our thoughts in admiration and wonder, to the contemplation of the secret providence of God.”

In David’s complaint and his respite in God’s glory, we see the stark contrast between the ungodly and believers. The former rush headlong into evil; the latter are restrained by the fear of God. The former cloak their offenses; the latter admit their guilt. The former indulge in a deep contempt of God; the latter maintain a delight in the Lord. Let us live as the latter, not becoming entangled in despair over sin, but singing praises to God.

Which characteristics most often mark your life—those of the wicked or the righteous? Confess to God the ungodliness in your own life. After this confession, tell God your concerns about the wickedness of the society around you. End your prayer with praises to God for His mercy, faithfulness, and righteousness.