What Makes You Angry?
After reading Psalm 94 over the past two weeks, I concluded this morning that I am not angry enough. Don’t get me wrong. I get angry. But I get angry about the wrong things. Usually I get angry when I am blocked in some way, when someone or something prevents me from doing what I want to do. And so my anger is a selfish or self-preoccupied anger. Psalm 94 teaches me why I should get angry.
The Psalmist is angry because of what wicked and evil people do. The wicked and evil are proud and pour out arrogant words (2-3). The wicked seem to get away with wickedness and delight in it (3). They boast about their evil ways (3). They crush God’s people and afflict His heritage (5). How do they do this? They kill the widows and visitors and murder the orphans (6). They make evil laws that support injustice (20) and condemn the innocent to death (21). They pretend that they are going to get away with their evil deeds and mock God as one who does not see, hear or know what is going on (7).
How wrong they are!!
Yahweh does see. The God of Jacob does understand. God sees, God hears, God rebukes and God knows what is happening (sounds like Exodus 3:7-8). God considers the wicked to be the most foolish of all if they think that God does not know what they are doing, if they think they will not be punished (8). For God is a God of vengeance (1); He is the judge of the earth (2)—a phrase that goes back to Gen 18:25, “Will not the judge of all the earth do what is right?”
And because of the character of God, the Psalmist cries out to the judge of all the earth. Psalm 94 teaches us what to do with righteous anger. As the righteous suffer, the Psalmists asks the God of vengeance to show up (“shine forth” 1). We need you to show up and take care (“wipe out” 23) our wicked and evil enemies. He pleads with God to repay the wicked with what they deserve (2). Is there frustration with the seeming delay of the justice of God? How long? How long? He pleads in verse 2 before “justice will return to the righteous.” (15)
As the Psalmist waits for God’s vengeance to arrive, as we wait for deliverance in times of trouble, we do not wait alone. God is present with us in the midst of our troubles and will remain so until the wicked are buried in a pit that has been dug for them! (13) God offers calmness, peace and freedom from fear for his people (from shaqat, the Hebrew word for rest in verse 13. Isaiah 30:15 says, “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your salvation.” God’s rest comes to those who accept his discipline and who learn from His law (12). We can be assured that God will not forsake His people nor abandon His heritage (in contrast to verse 5). “I will never leave you nor forsake you” promises Jesus. (Hebrews 13:5). “The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? The Lord is on my side as my helper; I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.” (Psalm 118:6-7)
God is a very real and present help in time of need. God is with us even when it seems that no one else rises up on our behalf or stands up for us. In Psalm 121:1-2, the Psalmist asks, from where does my help come from? My help comes from the maker of heaven and earth. The present help of the Lord delivers us from despair (my soul would have lived in the land of silence=death 17). God’s steadfast love holds us up when we are about to fall or give up (18). As we face troubles, anxieties multiply but God’s unique consolations bring us joy (19). During the time of waiting, we learn, we find God to be our stronghold—we allow Him to be our rock of refuge (22).
Justice is coming for the righteous (15) and for the wicked (23). But when? How long? We ask God for vengeance against the wicked and justice for the righteous and innocent. Lord, arouse in us (in me) a holy anger over issues of injustice, abuse, graft and corruption, poverty, and trafficking. Make us aware of your presence with us and others in pain even in the midst of troubles and bring calmness, peace and rest to our hearts when we are tempted to fear.