Theme: Those Who Do Not Praise God
From this week’s lessons, we see the need for the righteous to praise God continually.
Scripture: Psalm 92:1-15
Having said a great deal about the value, reasons for and methods of worshiping God, the psalm next introduces a contrast with the case of those who, unlike the psalmist, do not know or praise God (vv. 5-9). I call this the silence of the senseless, because that is what the writer himself calls them in verse 6. There are two things wrong with them.
1. They are like brute beasts. This is the literal meaning of the words “the senseless man.” They mean “the brute man,” that is, a man who knows no more of reality than an animal. According to the Bible, men and women are made to know and enjoy God, but when they turn their backs on God, as the unregenerate do, they isolate themselves from all that is spiritual in life and operate on a physical level only. Derek Kidner quotes Samuel Johnson’s comment on people who are like this. “It is sad stuff,” he said. “It is brutish. If a bull could speak, he might as well exclaim—Here am I with this cow and this grass; what being can enjoy better felicity?”1
On a slightly higher note we should remember that this is the inference of Psalm 8, which places man at a mediating point in creation, saying, “You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor” (v. 5). By calling him “a little lower than the heavenly beings” rather than “a little higher than the beasts,” it indicates that it is man’s calling to look up to God and become like God, in whose image he is made. But if he will not look up, the only place he will be able to look is down, and he will begin to behave like an animal. Someone said, “God made man a little lower than the angels, and he has been trying to get lower ever since.”
2. They are wicked in their beastlike behavior. The second thing that is wrong with those who do not know or praise God is that they are also wicked. This is what the psalmist calls them in verses 7 and 9 and why he writes of their judgment: “…though the wicked spring up like grass and all evildoers flourish, they will be forever destroyed…For surely your enemies, O LORD, surely your enemies will perish; all evildoers will be scattered.”
This means that the failure of the “senseless” to worship God is not merely a case of their being blind to spiritual realities, though they are. It is also the case that theirs is a willing blindness; that is, they are blind because they choose not to see. The reason they do not know and will not praise God is that they do not want to know or praise him. They actually hate him because he is God, and not themselves.
Having made a contrast between himself and those who do not know and worship God, and having shown the destiny of the latter, the psalmist now picks up on the destiny of these wicked persons and makes a still further contrast between the destiny of the wicked, which he has just mentioned, and the end of the righteous (vv. 10-15). The wicked will wither up like grass, but the righteous will flourish like a palm tree and a cedar of Lebanon.
But first a testimony! God has blessed the psalmist with anointing and with preservation from his enemies. He wants to say this. He does not want to forget it, and he does not want others to miss knowing about it either. “You have exalted my horn like that of a wild ox; fine oils have been poured over me. My eyes have seen the defeat of my adversaries; my ears have heard the rout of my wicked foes” (vv. 10, 11). But what is true of him is true for all the righteous (vv. 12-15), and it is on this encouraging note that he brings his composition to a close.
1Derek Kidner, Psalms 73-150: A Commentary on Books III-V of the Psalms (Leicester, England, and Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1975), p. 336. The quote is from James Boswell, The Life of Dr. Johnson, Everyman edition, I, p. 464.
Who is the senseless man? On what level does he operate?
Explain what is wrong with those who do not praise God.
What is the inference of Psalm 8:5?
Compare and contrast the people this psalm portrays. What are the destinies of both?
What is the senseless man’s willing blindness? What does that say about him?
Reflection: What examples can you give of how people either look up to God or down to the animals in their day-to-day activities?
Application: Do you know people who fit this description of being spiritually blind? Commit to praying for them regularly.
For Further Study: What does the Bible teach regarding men and women who turn their backs on God? Read Psalm 106:19-21; Jeremiah 2:5, 11; Jeremiah 17:9; and Ephesians 4:17-19. What do these passages teach regarding the tendency of man’s heart?