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(Click or hover over the above Scripture reference link to read the passage.)
You can feel the psalmist’s anguished heart in Psalm 28. He is in distress as he looks at the wicked prospering. You can feel the sense that the wicked are in the majority here and the psalmist is in the minority. That he is being pressed up against by this tide of evil in his culture and it’s looking grim. The key turning point is that he turns his heart toward God in the midst of his anguish.
I have met so many people who have been through such difficult experiences (have experienced evil) that it has turned their hearts away from God. God is seen as the one inflicting the evil so we feel like he’s abandoned us or given up on us. The Psalms don’t answer the question of why there is evil in the world or how could a good God allow suffering. These questions are valid, but they don’t have any slam dunk answers, and the Psalms don’t try giving any. But what we see in Psalm 28 is in the midst of evil’s afflictions, the psalmist turns toward God not away from him. We are going to experience trouble, evil, pain, suffering, et al in this world. Jesus assures us of this in John 16:33. I’ve had my own doubts and wrestling with God about why he has allowed me to experience certain sufferings and evils and the conclusion I have drawn is two-fold:
We are going to experience evil (suffering etc.).
Would I rather take it on by myself or with Jesus beside me?
I choose Jesus.
What we do know about Jesus is that he suffered. In all the world religions, he’s the only deity who suffered for his people. In his physical, emotional, and spiritual suffering on the cross, we can look to him when we experience physical, emotional, and spiritual suffering. It’s important that we remember it wasn’t only physical suffering he endured, but the betrayal of his closest friends and family members, the cosmic weight of the world’s sin on his shoulders, and the feeling that the Father himself had forsaken him. Jesus went through the deepest pits and he is with us when we go through ours. I just want to encourage people who have given up on God because of excruciating hardships they’ve endured to come back to him. To cry out to him like the psalms do and to put their hope and confidence in him and his eternal victory over sin and death.
Psalm 28 certainly hits on the ethical dichotomy between good and evil as well. As people who do evil are prospering, the psalmist reminds himself and us that God is his strength and shield and that he can be trusted. This fills the psalmist’s heart with joy and he sings songs of praise. We again see the imagery of a shield, strength, and fortress to describe God. Though the war rages on around me, God is my shield and fortress. We see this imagery over and over in the psalms and it is beautifully relevant to us today. The war isn’t going to end until Jesus gets back, but in the meantime, he is our fortress, refuge, and strength. Within the walls of his fortress are found hope, joy, and peace. As verse 9 states, he is our shepherd, carrying us forever. Will you trust Jesus to be your shepherd or will you try your hand at being a lone ranger sheep, toughing it out on your own through the pits and wolf packs of this world?
Prayer for the day: Jesus thank you for being my shepherd. Sometimes it feels I will be swallowed up by this evil world. Both its oppression on me, as well as my propensity to believe Satan’s lies that the ways of sin are better than your ways. Help me run to you and not to the lies of sin. Help me to run to your fortress and experience your goodness. Help me to find my joy, strength, and rest in you, knowing I will not find these things anywhere else. Save me from the emptiness of this world. I turn my heart toward you when things are overbearing. I run into your arms.
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