I’ve said this before, but please pardon me as I say it again: Most American Christians have waaaaay too small a view of God. This has been fostered by the spirit of independence which began this country, and it’s filtered down into our view of who God is. There is a lot of “Jesus is my best buddy” mentality in much of our Christian practice and how we view our walk with our Savior.
Please don’t misunderstand me. Jesus is our best friend, because he said so. But he’s so much more than that. He’s more than your personal Savior (a phrase never found in Scripture, by the way). And I think that this Psalm illustrates that for us.
A lot of Christians love the Psalms, or more accurately they love some of the Psalms. They love the 23rd, or if they know their Bible a little better, they love the Psalms which praise God for who he is and thank God for what he’s done. They love the 27th, or the 51st, or the 139th. I do too. But the Psalms remind us that he's not just our Savior: he's the Judge of all the world. I mean this literally. He's the One who will one day pronounce judgment on every man, woman, and child who has ever lived.
But to the Psalmist, he’s even more than that. He’s the Judge who can intervene with justice right now. And David is responding to him as such. This is an appeal to a Judge to take his case, to listen to his complaint, and to judge between him and his enemies. They were claiming that they were right to persecute David, and he claimed that he was innocent of any wrongdoing against them. He knew that the Lord is pure and holy and could not excuse evil: “For you are not a God who is pleased with wickedness.” He wanted God to demonstrate this in a public way and to vindicate David. If you’re not familiar with that word (vindicate), you should be, since it sums up a lot of what David and the other Psalmists requested from God. Simply put, it means to “prove right, to justify.” For example, imagine an inventor who’s trying to come up with a new device. People laugh at him, saying he’ll never be able to complete his project. But then, after years of toil and failures, he succeeds. At that point he's vindicated. They said he could never do it, and he said he could. He was proved right.
David’s enemies said that they would succeed, and that God was on their side. They claimed that David was a dead man walking, and that his cries to the Lord would go unanswered. He was right, and they were wrong, and he wanted the Lord to prove him right, to justify his trust in the Almighty.
So what about us? Can we read these Psalms and incorporate them into our prayers? I’ll delve into that issue more at another time. This isn’t the last time we’ll deal with a Psalm that has verses which might make us uncomfortable. In fact, we’ll read some that make this one look like a child’s story. But for now, let’s just try to wrap our brains around one thing at a time: Let’s try to focus on the fact that God is not just our Savior; he’s the Judge of all the universe. A God who’s just your “buddy” is not a God to whom you can appeal as Judge who can intervene on your behalf. When someone is treating us wrong, when they are doing terrible things to us, we can turn to him as the One who will make things right.
Father, you’re the Judge of everything and everyone. When someone is treating me with injustice, help me to trust you to make things right instead of trying to avenge myself. Again, you’re God and I’m not.