Theme: Living by Faith
In this week’s lessons we are reminded that in his time the Lord will both punish the wicked and vindicate the righteous.
Scripture: Psalm 94:1-23
The last stanza of Psalm 94 gets back to where it started, with God as the Judge of all the earth (vv. 20-23). The corrupt judgment thrones of this earth cannot be allied with the upright throne of heaven. Thus, the psalmist looks for the day when the Judge of the earth will rise to destroy the wicked for their sins against the righteous.
In the meantime, what shall the righteous do? The answer here is the same as it is everywhere in Scripture: the righteous shall live by faith in God. This is what the psalmist is affirming when he says as a further word of personal testimony: “The LORD has become my fortress, and my God the rock in whom I take refuge” (v. 22).
It is hard to reach this point of the psalm without thinking of the minor prophet Habakkuk, from whom the words “the righteous will live by his faith” come (Hab. 2:4). Habakkuk lived in an age of moral and spiritual decline, and God answered his prayers for Israel by saying that he was going to judge the people for their sins. Moreover, he was going to judge them by sending ruthless hordes of Babylonians to invade the land and overthrow the kingdom. This was a terrible thing to be told, and it was very frightening for Habakkuk. Many would be killed in this invasion. Women would be violated, infants slaughtered. How could those who acknowledged God survive such terrifying times?
The answer God gave to Habakkuk was that “the righteous will live by his faith.” And that is exactly what Habakkuk learned to do. Disturbed and fearful as he was—so much so that his “heart pounded,” his “lips quivered,” “decay crept into his bones” and his “legs trembled” (Hab. 3:16)—he learned to fix his soul in God and so pass through the trouble. Habakkuk’s final glorious testimony is in these words: “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior” (vv. 17, 18).
The wicked rejoice in their sin, saying, “The LORD does not see” (Ps. 94:7). The righteous rejoice in God, who does see and who will both punish sin and vindicate the righteous.
What image of God is used in the last stanza?
What can the righteous do in times of oppression or trouble?
How were the righteous of Habakkuk’s time told to survive an impending terror? How did Habakkuk respond?
Reflection: Describe what it feels like to be abandoned. Recount to God what he has promised you when you feel abandoned.
Prayer: Pray that you will be able to rejoice and have faith in God at all times.
Key Point: The wicked rejoice in their sin, saying, “The LORD does not see” (Ps. 94:7). The righteous rejoice in God, who does see and who will both punish sin and vindicate the righteous.
For Further Study: To look further at the need to have joy in the midst of great calamity, download and listen for free to James Boice’s message from Habakkuk 3, “Joy in the God of Salvation.” (Discount will be applied at checkout.)