I. The Nature of the Wicked
A. No fear of God
- The beginning of wickedness is a lack of concerning for God and His character. I do not know that we fully appreciate this point as the determining point of our character and where we stand with God. Solomon said, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7).
- The first six verses of Proverbs 1 describes all the benefits of fearing the Lord. “To know wisdom and instruction, to understand words of insight, to receive instruction in wise dealing, in righteousness, justice, and equity; to give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the youth—let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance.” The fear of the Lord is the beginning of all these things.
- By contrast, a lack of the fear of the Lord is the beginning of our own destruction. In Romans 1, Paul is describing people who have been given over to a debased mind, plunging themselves into the lusts of their hearts to impurity, and committing shameful acts. Notice their beginning, “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Romans 1:21). They knew God, but did not fear Him. They realized there is a God, but did not honor Him as such. This is the beginning of wickedness: our decisions to not honor, revere, and worship the Lord.
- In fact, Paul condemns the whole world to this way of thinking in Romans 3 and in verse 18 he quotes these very words, “there is no fear of God before his eyes.” All of us have not had the fear of God that we ought to have. This is the first step down the road to evil and wickedness.
B. Deeper depravity
- David continues by describing how we fall deeper and deeper into our own sinfulness, becoming futile in our thinking and darkening our hearts. First, having displaced God, the wicked person becomes the center of his or her own universe and is self-deceived. Verse 2 describes how a person flatters himself to such a point that he cannot see his own sin and does not hate his own actions. We fall prey to thinking that we do things so well that we cannot be the one who is in error for a particular problem. We cannot see that we are instigator and the sinner. Rather, we look upon our own actions as tolerable and righteous.
- Having refused God, the wicked speak deceitfully, act unwise, and do not do good. It is not long that wickedness is a way of life. The person is unable to see that their words are not truthful, nor that they are acting without wisdom or righteousness. Many times the reason why we are making foolish and irrational decisions is because God is not the basis for our decision making process.
- Eventually, the wicked abandon themselves to continual evil, plotting ways to maintain themselves in a wicked lifestyle. The person is not merely molded to the ways of wickedness, but now is scheming and devising ways to maintain their wicked behavior. The person is fully caught in Satan’s grasp and he continues to plunge himself into great iniquities. No longer does the person distinguish between right and wrong. Evil is now approved and called righteous in the eyes of the wicked. The wicked is completely committed to their sinful course.
II. The Blessings of God
A. God’s great attributes
- Loving kindness. “Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens.” Translators have struggled trying to communicate the meaning of this Hebrew word hesed, translated here as love. The New American Standard translates, “loving kindness” while the English Standard Version and New Revised Standard Version translates, “steadfast love.” The New King James Version translates the word as “mercy.” These versions are trying to capture the richness of this word. God’s merciful love, His steadfast love, His lovingkindness reaches to the heavens. This gives us a vast picture of how wide and deep the love of God is toward us.
- Faithfulness. God’s faithfulness and loving kindness are tied closely together by David in this psalm. The faithfulness of God usually relates to God’s spoken promises to His people. We would not understand or know God’s faithfulness without seeing God keep His word throughout time. To every promise God has ever made and to every word God has ever said, God has fulfilled those words and promises. Faithfulness is the character of God.
- Righteousness. God’s righteousness is described as mighty mountains. Mighty mountains make us think of such attributes as steadfast, immoveable, and constant. The mountain imagery also causes us to consider the vastness and power of God’s righteousness. God always acts righteously toward all the earth, especially His children. God always does what is right toward us.
- Justice. God’s justice is like the great deep. We will never find an end to God’s justice. The justice of God will not fail. All of these characteristics are described through the creation to show how vast and continual God is in His steadfast love, faithfulness, righteousness, and justice. These are attributes we can rely upon as we put our trust in God.
B. Blessings to the righteous
- David now describes how God’s blessings filter down to those who are His disciples. The first blessing David identifies is abundance. People who take refuge in the shadow of God’s wings will find abundance from God’s house. As we read these blessings, consider how these blessings are a contrast to what we saw with the sinfulness of the wicked. The wicked were full of deceit, lacked wisdom, and committed themselves to a sinful course. In contrast, the righteous receives blessings from the storehouse of God.
- Delight. Those who take refuge in the Lord can drink from God’s river of delights. There is great joy is relying upon the Lord as a refuge for our lives. But there is a subtle teaching in the text that is lost in our English translation. The word translated “delights” in our English versions is the Hebrew word eden. Now, when we read this text we see much more being taught to us by David when he says, “you give them drink from your river of Eden.” Those who take their refuge in the Lord and fear the Lord are in the paradise of God. What a great blessing we have as God’s children.
- Fountain of life and light. Tied closely to the imagery of the rivers of Eden is David’s words, “For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.” It is interesting that the apostle John took this imagery and applied it to Jesus, “In Him was life, and that life was the light of men” (John 1:4). Jesus said of Himself in John 4:14, “But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountainof water springing up into everlasting life.” Only with the Lord can we see our purpose in life and see where we are to be going in this world. God lights our path to righteousness and holiness so that we can be with the Lord. These are just a few of the great blessings we have when we fear the Lord.
- This is the hospitality of God. The Lord has brought those who fear Him into His house and has given them His bountiful riches. God is offering us abundant, full living. He is offering us the paradise of God with rivers of delight. God has opened the fountain of life and guides us with the light of His word and the light of His Son. Yet we keep looking for physical riches, when God is offering so much. Let us see the need to reject the way of the wicked and accept God’s gracious invitation.
III. Prayer of Protection From Evil
A. Plea for divine love
- Our spiritual state with God is the determining factor whether we are receiving the blessings of God or are fools rejecting wisdom. David prays that God’s love continue “to those who know you.” How well do we know the Lord? Let us examine ourselves for a moment and reflect on the possibility that we do not truly know the Lord. We are not spending time getting to know Him nor drawing near to Him in prayer, readings, study, meditation, or spiritual thinking. Day in and day out we are tied to our schedules and our way of life and we are not truly concerned about knowing the Lord.
- The scriptures remind us about our need to truly know the Lord. The apostle John said, “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1 John 4:8). We have to show that we love God by wanting to pay attention to God and learn more about Him so He can change our lives. God’s love will continue only with those who truly know Him.
B. Blessings to the upright
- David also declares that the blessings of God fall on the upright in heart. It is not enough to think we know God, but we must apply that knowledge to become more like God’s character and image. Paul said in Titus 1:16, “They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.”
- Nor is it enough to pursue God in some sort of academic way. The knowledge which enters our minds must filter into our hearts so that we can be a changed people. I believe we miss out on many of God’s blessings because we are satisfied with the scraps. We have not embarked on a journey to truly change our life for the Lord because we think what we have now is all God has to offer. I think we have only approached the tip of the iceberg of what God can do for His people. Paul said God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine according to the power at work within us (Ephesians 3:20). We must want to find a deeper knowledge and deeper relationship with God to find the depths of God’s love and righteousness.
C. Confident fall of the wicked
- David concludes the psalm with his knowledge of the outcome of the wicked. The evildoers are lie fallen, thrown down and are unable to rise. The evildoers will be given the knock out punch.
- We fight in a very unique war against Satan. Most wars are fought to determine who will be victorious. But that is not the war we are involved in. Our war against principalities, powers, and darkness already has the outcome determined. God has won and the evildoers lie fallen, thrown to the ground. The question left to answer is if you and I will fight for the winners or for the losers. The victory was sealed when Christ raised from the dead. Victory is the Lord’s as death has lost its sting and the grave no longer has victory. Let us fear the Lord and take our refuge in His wings so that we can partake of the blessings of God.