March 13, 2009

They Speak Peace While Evil is in Their Hearts

I am reposting this meditation on Psalm 28 today, because I've been thinking about God's grace toward sinners like myself. Please read it and let me know what you think. Grace and peace - Penn.

"Do not drag me off with the wicked,
with the workers of evil,
who speak peace with their neghbors
while evil is in their hearts." (Psalm 28:3 ESV).

In this Psalm, David is pleading for mercy from the LORD so that he will not end up "like those who go down to the pit" (Ps. 28:1). I was once one of those people who was sinking down, and like David, I can remember taking long walks and praying for help, "Hear the voice of my pleas for mercy, when I cry for help, when I lift up my hands toward your most holy sanctuary." (Ps. 28:2).

After writing his pleas for mercy from God, David then says such revealing things about sinful people:
"Do not drag me off with the wicked, with the workers of evil, who speak peace with their neighbors while evil is in their hearts. Give to them according to the work of their hands; render them their due reward. Because they do not regard the works of the LORD or the work of his hands, he will tear them down and build them no more." (Ps. 28:3-5).

That is a scary passage! "Because they do not regard the works of the LORD... he will tear them down..." And yet, David himself is pleading not to go down with them, which means that David himself knew he had sinned. Nevertheless, the fate of all who trust in their own works to save them and do not seek mercy by the grace of God, is perfectly described in this Psalm. He says they "speak peace with their neighbors while evil is in their hearts." They say a lot of good words, but they really hate the people they are talking to (or at least despise them in many ways). I think it is also like they talk as if nothing bad will happen to them, even though their hearts are full of sin. They think God will not punish them, or that somehow they will not get what perhaps others deserve, so they imagine peace for themselves and those around them. How many times and in how many ways have we done this? How have we spoken "peace" to someone when in our hearts we did not mean it?

Then David prays this, "Give to them according to their work and according to the evil of their deeds; give to them according to the work of their hands; render them their due reward." (Ps. 28:4). That is what the wages of sin is all about... getting what we deserve (Romans 6:23). If we think that our works can do us any good, when our hearts are so far from loving God fully in them all, then the end result is debt. And in this case the debt being paid to them is one of justice and punishment for their manipulative and scheming works while they pretended peace.

Grace is not in the picture for these folks, since grace is God's work, and it says "they do not regard the works of the LORD" (Ps. 28:5). They trusted in their plans, in their ways, in their manipulation of the people around them, but they did not regard God's works. God is a God of truth, as well as mercy and grace. God the Father sent God the Son, Jesus Christ, into the world full of grace and truth, so that all who humble themselves in repentance and trust in Him who died and rose will be forgiven completely (John 1:14; Acts 10:39-43; 11:18; Hebrews 7:25). I used to be a young man, like so many others, who acknowledged what Jesus had done for me, and even claimed I trusted Him as my personal Savior, but I did not have regard for the works of the LORD. I regarded myself, my ways, my wants, my... my... my whatever.

Then God brought me to the end. And like David, I can now say, "Blessed be the LORD! for he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy. The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him." (Ps. 28:6-7). Notice that David speaks of "the LORD" as the one who is "blessed" and "the LORD is my strength", and how He has heard... He helps those who trust... my heart exults and sings thanks to Him. When works are at the center of religion, it is all about us, but when it is grace that reigns, we see it is all about Him who alone can save with mercy. Then we also say, "Blessed be the LORD!"

Of course, no Psalm ends without a message about the Messiah. All the Bible is Christ centered, and here we find a wonderful reference to the "anointed" (Christ in Greek), and to the fact that the LORD is the "Shepherd" of his people, which means that Jesus is God in the flesh (John 10:11). These Old Testament references to Christ always amaze me!

"The LORD is the strength of his people;
he is the saving refuge of his anointed.
Oh, save your people and bless your heritage!
Be their shepherd and carry them forever." (Psalm 28:8-9).


Stephanie said...

I love verses 6 and 7. What reasons for rejoicing!!

Penn Tomassetti said...

Amen Stephanie! And that is our testimony as we witness to people, that He has indeed heard our pleas for mercy and has been our strength, so we bless His name!