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. Psalm 28:7
This verse stands out as an inspirational statement of faith. Much could be said of the writer’s gratitude and confidence in the Lord. However, in context, it is embedded toward the end of a desperate plea. Before this declaration of praise the psalmist demands justice, asking the Lord to distinguish between those who are good and those who are evil, that both would receive their proper end for eternity.
How are the evil identified? As those who do not respect and revere God’s power.
Because they do not regard the works of the Lord or the work of his hands, He will tear them down and build them up no more. Psalm 28:5
At the root of evil is the disregard for God Himself. If one does not value God as He is – the author of holiness, justice, goodness, mercy – how does one uphold those principles? Instead one easily wraps purpose around oneself, lost in empty or harmful pursuits and false notions of truth. In reality evil is not only in the obvious – in the murderer, adulterer, or thief. It nestles in many hearts as silent hypocrisy or selfishness.
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.
What self-deception we can dwell in! For myself, internal judgments and comparisons to others, guilty secrets, and nurtured pride exist even when I seek to have “good” intentions. The evil arises from a lack of focus on God’s complete worthiness. If I am fully satisfied in Him, I will not favor the path of sin.
In front of God’s majesty, which is so strongly proclaimed in His Word the Bible, the dark inklings of my soul are laid bare. That’s a key point. Are you willing to recognize His glory and your need for Him? To feel conviction?
The evil ones King David speaks of are comfortable with ignorance, faithlessness, self-sufficiency and hidden darkness, with temporary pleasures and a destructive end. Yet for those who praise God’s works there is a thirst for purity, humility, and honor.
This is where the Gospel is reflected in the psalm. God knows in this broken world that on our own we cannot reach perfection, or be evil-free. Hypocrisy quickly creeps into our human hearts, our good deeds but rags compared to His splendor (Isaiah 64:6). All He asks, then, is for us to acknowledge Who He is and who we are.
“Mercy is given to those who agree with God’s standards of righteousness, but then immediately confess their inability to meet those standards.” -Joel Freeman
God revealed Himself through Jesus Christ the Son, the sole human to walk upon the earth in pure righteousness. And we are but sinners, people created by God but separated from Him by our wrongdoings. We need a Savior, one to restore us spiritually. Christ came to us and graciously took the punishment to be given us, that we may see Him as He truly is – our God of mighty works, our Eternal Shield against the evil that once bound us.
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