The Book of Psalms

Practical Atheism, Scene 5

Psalm 10:1-18 – In these lessons we learn what practical atheism is and what it looks like, as well as what our response as Christians must be when we observe it around us and experience its damage ourselves. 
The Response of Godly People

In yesterday’s devotional we pointed out the first two responses David had toward those who took advantage of the poor.  Today we begin by looking at the last response.

Finally, David thinks of an eventual judgment of the wicked. “The Lord is King for ever and ever; the nations will perish from his land” (v. 16). In David’s mind this was probably an earthly judgment. We have already seen how judgment in this life, rather than judgment in the life to come, is the major concern of the psalmists. There are grounds for this confidence. Arrogance against God and man frequently oversteps itself. The mighty are often caught in their own devices and brought down. The words “How the mighty have fallen” have been uttered more than once in human history (see David’s moving lament for Saul and Jonathan in 2 Samuel 1:19-27). Nevertheless, for a final balancing of accounts we must await the final judgment.

Never mind that the wicked scoff at it. The Apostle Peter spoke of people who would be like this. They too would be practical atheists. He wrote:

You must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and with water. By water also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men…But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare (2 Pet. 3:3-7, 10).

In other words, the proof of the final judgment is the fact that God has already judged the world once in the great flood of Noah’s day. God’s wrath may be delayed, but it is not canceled. The final judgment is no less certain than the former one.

In the meantime, what shall the righteous do? Habakkuk had the answer. God told him of extremely bad times that were coming. The Babylonians were going to overrun his country and carry the people into slavery. But, said God, in such times, “The righteous will live by faith” (Hab. 2:4).

It is not always easy to do it, but it is what Habakkuk did and what David did too. Like many of these psalms, we do not see in the psalm itself the answer the psalmist was expecting. David asked God to “break the arm” (that is, the power) of the wicked. But we do not know that David lived to see it in the cases he was troubled about. Or even if he did, we know that there would soon have been other practical atheists to take the places of those who had fallen. But David still trusted God. He lived by faith and was therefore confident of the ultimate ends of the righteous and the wicked. He could have said, like Habakkuk, “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” (Hab. 3:17, 18).

God’s timing is not our timing. But we will be able to live joyfully even in times of trouble, if we carry our troubles to the King of kings.

Study Questions
  1. What is the third idea upon which David reflects as he considers those who show contempt for God and sin against the helpless?
  2. We know that the final judgment is coming, but how are we supposed to live until that time?

Application: What form of suffering is God calling you or someone close to you to endure?  As Christians, what should our response be to these trials?

Key Point: God’s timing is not our timing. But we will be able to live joyfully even in times of trouble, if we carry our troubles to the King of kings.

For Further Study: If you would like a copy of James Boice’s three-volume set on the Psalms, you can still receive 40% off and free shipping.  This offer is good through today yet, so order yours now.

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