Psalm 94 The LORD Will Not Forsake His People (1) O LORD, God of vengeance, O God of vengeance, shine forth! (2) Rise up, O judge of the earth; repay to the proud what they deserve! (3) O LORD, how long shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked exult? (4) They pour out their arrogant words; all the evildoers boast. (5) They crush your people, O LORD, and afflict your heritage. (6) They kill the widow and the sojourner, and murder the fatherless; (7) and they say, "The LORD does not see; the God of Jacob does not perceive." (8) Understand, O dullest of the people! Fools, when will you be wise? (9) He who planted the ear, does he not hear? He who formed the eye, does he not see? (10) He who disciplines the nations, does he not rebuke? He who teaches man knowledge- (11) the LORD- knows the thoughts of man, that they are but a breath. (12) Blessed is the man whom you discipline, O LORD, and whom you teach out of your law, (13) to give him rest from days of trouble, until a pit is dug for the wicked. (14) For the LORD will not forsake his people; he will not abandon his heritage; (15) for justice will return to the righteous, and all the upright in heart will follow it. (16) Who rises up for me against the wicked? Who stands up for me against evil doers? (17) If the LORD had not been my help, my soul would soon have lived in the land of silence. (18) When I thought, "My foot slips," your steadfast love, O LORD, held me up. (19) When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul. (20) Can wicked rulers be allied with you, those who frame injustice by statute? (21) They band together against the life of the righteous and condemn the innocent to death. (22) But the LORD has become my stronghold and my God the rock of my refuge. (23) He will bring back on them their iniquity and wipe them out for their wickedness; the LORD our God will wipe them out. ESV
The New American Standard Bible titles this psalm: The LORD Implored to Avenge His People. The New King James Version titles it: God the Refuge of the Righteous. And above, the ESV: The LORD Will Not Forsake His People. The themes of this psalm are clear in the titles: “save us” and “serve out Your justice”! There is no other information about Psalm 94. Bible scholars are unsure who wrote it or when it was written. Titles like those listed above were added to the text later, although scholars believe they are ancient because many are included in the Septuagint (LXX, the earliest Hebrew to Greek translation of the Old Testament, approx. 3rd century BC).
This psalm was penned when the church was under hatches, oppressed and persecuted; and it is an appeal to God, as the judge of heaven and earth, and an address to him, to appear for his people against his and their enemies.Matthew Henry, English minister, 1662-1714
O LORD, the God of vengeance, O God of vengeance, let your glorious justice shine forth! Arise, O Judge of the earth. Give the proud what they deserve. How long, O LORD? How long will the wicked be allowed to gloat? How long will they speak with arrogance? How long will these evil people boast? They crush your people, LORD, hurting those you claim as your own. They kill widows and foreigners and murder orphans. "The LORD isn't looking," they say, "and besides, the God of Israel doesn't care." Psalm 94:1-7 NLT
The psalmist, whomever he was, called upon the Lord to strike down his enemies, the enemies of the people, and therefore, God’s enemies, who hurt and kill the innocent.
I often love The Message’s words on psalms, and especially this one. The Message is one pastor’s modern-day summary of the Bible. While it is not a translation of the Bible, it is a good addition to any study when combined with other reputable Bible translations. Pastor Peterson was once asked what his goal was with the incredible work he had completed:
(to) “Bring the New Testament to life for two different types of people: those who hadn’t read the Bible because it seemed too distant and irrelevant and those who had read the Bible so much that it had become ‘old hat.'”Eugene H. Peterson, pastor, 1932-2018
Here is an example of Pastor Peterson’s thoughts on Psalm 94. I love how his words flow like poetry:
GOD, put an end to evil; avenging God, show your colors! Judge of the earth, take your stand; throw the book at the arrogant. GOD, the wicked get away with murder- how long will you let this go on? They brag and boast and crow about their crimes! They walk all over your people, GOD, exploit and abuse your precious people. They take out anyone who gets in their way; if they can't use them, they kill them. They think, "God isn't looking, Jacob's God is out to lunch." Psalm 94:1-7 The Message
Show your colors God! Throw the book at the bad guys! Prove that You are not out to lunch!!
Have you cried out to God, “How long?”? “What are you waiting for?” “I need you. Help me now!”? You wouldn’t be the only one. Here are some instances of God’s children as recorded in the Bible crying out the same: the prophet Habakkuk and King David and martyrs in the book of Revelation even:
How long, O LORD, must I call for help? But you do not listen! Habakkuk 1:2 NLT O LORD, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way? Psalm 13:1 NLT When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of all who had been martyred for the word of God and for being faithful in their testimony. They shouted to the Lord and said, "O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you judge the people who belong to this world and avenge our blood for what they have done to us?" Revelation 6:9-10 NLT
It’s hard to wait for God. God’s timing is different than our timing. We expect an answer and a fix right when we ask, and as humans, it’s very hard for us to wait. But God understands this. His Son came to earth in human form and experienced this firsthand. God knows. He understands. But He also knows what’s best for us, and often times, as we know with our own children, waiting is not a bad thing. It can bring clarity and patience and perseverance and empathy for others.
Vengeance belongs to God, not to man. God sees all, past, present, and future. He knows all, and He sees the heart of people. Therefore, vengeance is God’s. But . . . God promises good things to those who wait for Him:
But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31 NKJV
Waiting for the Lord is hard, but those who persevere will be rewarded. God says so.
The Psalmist goes on:
Think again, you fools! When will you finally catch on? Is he deaf- the one who made your ears? Is he blind- the one who formed your eyes? He punishes the nations- won't he punish you? He knows everything- doesn't he also know what you are doing? The LORD knows people's thoughts; he knows they are worthless! Psalm 94:8-11 NLT
I love this! The bad guys think “God is out to lunch,” but they don’t think about the fact that He made their ears, so He Himself can hear just fine. He made their eyes, therefore, He can see just fine. He punishes those around them, will He not do the same to them? He knows everything. He sees you. He hears you, and He knows all. There is no hiding from a God who is alive and has ears to hear and eyes to see.
The Apostle Paul quotes verse 11 in his letter to the church in Corinth:
Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become "fools" so that you may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight. As it is written: "He catches the wise in their craftiness;" and again, "The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile." 1 Corinthians 3:18-20 NIV
How foolish are those who think that God does not know their actions, when the truth is that their vain thoughts are all perceived by him!Charles Spurgeon, English preacher, 1834-1892
Joyful are those you discipline, LORD, those you teach with your instructions. You give them relief from troubled times until a pit is dug to capture the wicked. The LORD will not reject his people; he will not abandon his special possession. Judgment will again be founded on justice, and those with virtuous hearts will pursue it. Psalm 94:12-15 NLT
Do you find joy in discipline? When God teaches and instructs us, He does it for our own good and for the good of His Plan for us. It’s hard to find joy in that. It’s hard to let go of shame, to accept mercy and grace when we feel like we don’t deserve it. And when God stops us in our path and directs us a new way, that is hard. But what we must remember is that He loves us enough to care. Like a loving father who steers his children away from coming danger, God says, “because I love you, I cannot allow you to go that way. I know more than you do.”
The Message is beautiful again in this section:
How blessed the man you train, GOD, the woman you instruct in your Word. Providing a circle of quiet within the clamor of evil, while a jail is being built for the wicked. GOD will never walk away from his people, never desert his precious people. Rest assured that justice is on its way and every good heart put right. Psalm 94:12-15 MSG
“The LORD will not cast off his people.” Lay hold of that precious assurance. Even if Satan should come, and whisper to you, “The Lord has cast you off,” do not believe it; it cannot be. The devil has his cast-offs, but God has no cast-offs. Sometimes he takes the devil’s castaways and makes them to be the trophies of his mighty grace; and when he has done so, they are his people, concerning whom the psalmist says, “The LORD will not cast off his people.”Charles Spurgeon, English preacher, 1834-1892
I love that so much! God has no cast-offs! He never turns anyone away!!
Who will protect me from the wicked? Who will stand up for me against evildoers? Unless the LORD had helped me, I would soon have settled in the silence of the grave. I cried out, "I am slipping!" but your unfailing love, O LORD, supported me. When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer. Psalm 94:16-19 NLT
The Lord is our strength and protection. He is our mighty fortress, the Rock that we can stand upon. When we feel our feet slipping away, when fear grabs hold and hope begins to fail, the Lord’s unfailing love is our shelter. God’s covenant hesed love will see us through this life and into the next. Why? Because He said so, and He has been faithful throughout time.
The LORD passed in front of Moses, calling out, "Yahweh! The LORD! The God of compassion and mercy! I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness. I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations. I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin. But I do not excuse the guilty. Exodus 34:6-7a NLT
Verse 19 is a mighty reminder for us, here is it in a number of translations:
When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy. NIV In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul. NKJV When I was upset and beside myself, you calmed me down and cheered me up. The MSG Whenever I am anxious and worried, you comfort me and make me glad. GNBDC
How does God provide comfort? He sees you and me. He doesn’t just watch us, He SEES us. He sees our hearts, our worries, and our fears. He sees. Do you ever just want someone to understand you and what you’re going through, but there is no one? There is. God sees; He hears, and He understands. When we draw near to Him through prayer and reading His Word, He provides peace and comfort. God IS peace and comfort.
"Be strong. Take courage. Don't be intimidated. Don't give them a second thought because God, your God, is striding ahead of you. He's right there with you. He won't let you down; he won't leave you." Deuteronomy 31:6 MSG Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:6 NKJV
Psalm 94 closes with a reminder that God is our mighty fortress. God protects us from evil. He promises to. He doesn’t keep us from every bad or hard thing, but there are unseen forces that He protects us from every moment. Praise the Lord.
Can a corrupt throne be allied with you- a throne that brings on misery by its decrees? The wicked band together against the righteous and condemn the innocent to death. But the LORD has become my fortress, and my God the rock in whom I take refuge. He will repay them for their sins and destroy them for their wickedness; the LORD our God will destroy them. Psalm 94:20-23 NIV
Father in heaven, you are our mighty fortress, our defense, our rock of refuge. Thank you for your faithfulness, for your promises, and for great love for each of us. You are the Creator of all things yet you care about what is in our hearts. You see us. Thank you. Make us bold for you today. Amen.