Psalm 52:1 “Why do you boast of evil, O mighty man? The steadfast love of God endures all the day.”
How discouraging and disheartening would be the things that we see so often around us – but for God. When you see the destruction that drug dealers are wreaking on so many, when you see the wholesale slaughter of infants by abortion, when you hear about human trafficking and witness the racism that plagues mankind, what hope is there? On a national scale there is ethnic “cleansing,” and the terroristic acts that we hear of almost every day around the world. School shootings, domestic violence, children slaughtered by their own parents or parents slaughtered by their own children; it happens every day. And we hear of Christians who just want to honor Christ with their lives being raped, kidnapped, and placed in horrid conditions of imprisonment in many nations of the world. It’s enough to make one give up or sink into despair – but for God.
It is only because of the things that God has told us in His Word that we cling to hope. If we believe Him, our hearts can be lifted up in the midst of the wickedness and darkness in this world. One such place is in the words of Psalm 52:1 above. It’s a strange verse, spoken first to the most wicked. It asks him a question: “Why do you boast of evil, O mighty man?” In other words, do you think you’re really going to get away with your sin? As you mock God and proudly go your own wicked way, do you think God doesn’t see you? You think you are so mighty and that you’ll advance yourself as you trample on others, but you don’t realize the terrible power of the One who sees you right now.
And then these words: “The steadfast love of God endures all day.” This speaks of the enduring love of God towards His own, while, for reasons that often God only knows, the people He loves must endure mistreatment at the hands of the people who hate both Him and them. He sees all that is going on, and in the end, all things will be made right.
God’s patience toward the wicked is an amazing thing. He waited as wicked Paul wreaked havoc on the early church, waiting for him to come to his senses and repent. And Paul, by God’s grace, did just that. However, if he would not have repented, he would have heard these words in the end: “I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me (Matthew 25:40),” as well as these “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord (Romans 12:19).” In the end he would have very personally come to realize “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:31),” for that’s what’s in store for the unrepentant wicked.
Some years ago, I attended a conference held by Voice of the Martyrs, a Christian organization that ministers to persecuted Christians around the world. I’ll never forget what one of the speakers, a person who had suffered for his faith for many years in prison, said. He asked us to pray for those who were now suffering as he had. But it was how he asked us to pray that so powerfully affected me. He asked us to pray for endurance, rather than release, for such prisoners. And he asked that we pray for the persecutors that they would come to Christ and be saved. In his Christlike love for his persecutors, this precious believer didn’t wish judgment on them, which would be certain in the end, forever, if they didn’t repent. No, he wanted them to be escape the wrath to come. He didn’t wish this horrible fate on his worst enemies. And neither does God.
To the nation of Israel, who had wickedly turned their backs on Him, God spoke the following words, through Ezekiel: “Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, declares the Lord God. Repent and turn from all your transgressions, lest iniquity be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God; so turn, and live (Ezekiel 18:30-32).”
You see, God is just, and He will certainly repay those who have rebelled against Him and have so mistreated others. Nevertheless, in His love, He punished His own Son with His wrath on our behalf, so that every one of us has the opportunity to turn from our sin and live. God’s perfect justice and God’s perfect love – they meet at the cross, and so we have hope in the face of the wickedness that surrounds us. It’s the message of our perfect and holy God to those who will believe.