Psalms 84 is the inspiration for one of the songs that we sing sometimes in church, and I think that it speaks to the greatness of God. Specifically, it shows how being with God is better than being without God.
Psa 84:10 For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.
Think about it. If you are doorkeeper, you are a servant. You are the lowest on the social hierarchy. You are not in a position of praise, and half the time, most of the people there won’t even realize your presence. They just expect you to open up the door.
Now, what if you dwell in the tent? In this time period, it doesn’t seem like we had groups of people moving in together to share rent or whatever. If you lived in the tent of people, you were their family. You had a tight relationship with these people, and you might have been one of the prominent members of that group. You had acceptance and attention.
This comparison might be surprising then based on the descriptions that I just provided, and it certainly would have been powerful to people at this time. They would have understood the major difference between living in the house and being a servant in the house. If you generally had to choose, you would choose to be a member of the household.
However, this Psalm is throwing that out the window. We are reading that it would be better to be a servant of God and hypothetically be the lowest person in His house began to be the absolute highest member in the tents of the wicked.
That certainly implies that there is something great about simply being in the house of the Lord. There is something intrinsically valuable about being in the place where God is. It overcomes all of these external questions about what role you play. You could be sitting at the table, you could be cleaning up the table, but simply being with God is what we are supposed to understand from this Psalm. God is valuable, and this particular verse provides another affirmation of that concept.
Psalms 73 is very reflective of the world we live in today. One of the biggest complaints that people have with our current economic system is the fact that there is a huge divide between the incredibly wealthy and the incredibly poor. If you read this chapter though, you’ll find that this problem is nothing new. There has always been some type of inequality, and sometimes, the people who seem to be doing really well are doing it in the wrong way.
Psa 73:3 For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
Psa 73:4 For there are no bands in their death: but their strength is firm.
Psa 73:5 They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men.
It seemed kind of backwards. The wicked people were the ones who were getting rich, and you would expect it to be the other way around. We are trying so hard to follow God and do what is right that we should be the ones who get rewarded. They just continue doing bad things, and it feels as if they are getting some kind of benefit for their behavior.
Psa 73:12 Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches.
Psa 73:13 Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency.
Wait a minute. Asaph, the writer of this Psalm, seems like that he suddenly had a revelation. He suddenly realized that whatever these wealthy people had was confined to the earth, and he had something much better.
Psa 73:26 My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.
Psa 73:27 For, lo, they that are far from thee shall perish: thou hast destroyed all them that go a whoring from thee.
Psa 73:28 But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all thy works.
Now, let’s put it all back together. It feels unfair that the wealthy people are wealthy despite the fact that they are wicked. It seems more fair for those who do good and follow God to be rewarded for that. However, there is more to reality than money here on earth. Like Asaph says, God will be our portion forever. There is eternity to consider, so even if it may seem like that the world is what it ought to be, remember the other promises that we do have from God. This world is not the end of it, and ultimately God is a God of justice. The wicked might prosper for a short time, but it is not going to end well for them.
Psalms 37 seems to be prophetic. Basically, David is contrasting the destinies of those who are we wicked and those who are following God. I would have to say that based on this chapter and pretty much the entire rest of the Bible, it is a lot better to be on God’s side.
Psa 37:9 For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth.
Psa 37:10 For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be.
Psa 37:11 But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.
Psa 37:12 The wicked plotteth against the just, and gnasheth upon him with his teeth.
Psa 37:13 The Lord shall laugh at him: for he seeth that his day is coming.
I think that there are two levels of meaning here. First, I do think that there is a sense of end times prophecy. We do know eventually that God will rule over everything, and evil will be no more. I definitely see that kind of implication in this passage. For example, verse 10 tells us that the time for evil is limited. It will end.
However, I think there is also an immediate and practical consequence as well. When people do evil, it tends to catch up to them eventually. I know that as Christians we don’t adhere to the concept of Karma because of all of the Eastern religious connotations that come along with it, but I also would say that there is definitely a tendency for people who do bad things to get caught and have bad things come to them.
Gal 6:7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
Gal 6:8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.
I think that is a call to action for us today. Obviously, the prophetic part is important too, and it should demonstrate the importance of having a relationship with Jesus Christ. However, for today, I think it is important for us to remember that our actions do make a difference. We can do good, or we can do bad. Both of them have their consequences.
I think that Psalms 36 is rather eye-opening, and it really makes me think about my attitude toward sin. David begins the chapter with a description of wicked people.
Psa 36:1 To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David the servant of the LORD. The transgression of the wicked saith within my heart, that there is no fear of God before his eyes.
Psa 36:2 For he flattereth himself in his own eyes, until his iniquity be found to be hateful.
Psa 36:3 The words of his mouth are iniquity and deceit: he hath left off to be wise, and to do good.
Psa 36:4 He deviseth mischief upon his bed; he setteth himself in a way that is not good; he abhorreth not evil.
Keep in mind again that all of these descriptors refer to what the wicked people do. Verse four is the one that challenged me. The wicked people do not abhor evil. In other words, if I don’t want to be wicked, I basically need to hate evil and avoid it no matter what.
That is kind of a perspective altering thing. I can’t think of any one of us who hasn’t written off something we have done as no big deal. That little white lie didn’t hurt anyone, so even though I shouldn’t have done it, it was no big deal. So what if I lost my temper and said some things that I shouldn’t have?
I’m not saying that we need to be perfect because that would be an impossible command from God, but it seems to me that we do need to really avoid doing evil at all costs and not make excuses for our behavior.
We of course can all be forgiven, and I don’t want to minimize the importance of that at all. However, we need to make sure that we aren’t just writing off some of the things we do as insignificant even if they are wrong. The size of it doesn’t change the moral nature of a given action.
We really need to develop a distaste for sin in our own lives. I’m not saying that we need to be perfect, but we need to take it like the apostle Paul.
Rom 7:19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
Rom 7:20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
Rom 7:21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.
It is a heart issue. We might still mess up, but we need to work on losing our desire for sin. Like David said, the wicked people don’t hate sin. When you turn that over, it implies that if you don’t want to be wicked, you ought to start hating sin (but not the sinner; a topic for another day).
Judah, the forefather of Jesus himself, left his family and went down to live with the Canaanites for a while. While he was there, he got married to Shuah and had three sons.
We don’t know a lot about the first one whose name was Er, but here is what we do know.
Gen 38:6 And Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, whose name was Tamar.
Gen 38:7 And Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the LORD; and the LORD slew him.
Really, this seems pretty drastic. After all, there have been plenty of wicked people in the history of the world, and God didn’t necessarily come down and kill them right away.
What could possibly have been so wicked that Er automatically deserved death?
I can’t necessarily answer that because it isn’t in the Bible, and I don’t want to speculate. However, here is what I can say about this.
Sin inevitably leads to death. We all deserve death because we all have sinned. God takes sin seriously, and that is outlined pretty clearly throughout the entire Bible.
Rom 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
We can’t pay off our sin by our own merit. The only reason we are able to be forgiven is because of what Jesus did on the cross. He took on all of the sins of the world and died so that we are able to have eternal life. As that verse indicates, salvation is a free gift that can be accepted by anyone.
While we may not necessarily think of ourselves as “wicked” like Er apparently was, we are still just as separated from God as a result of any sin we have committed.
Isa 59:1 Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear:
Isa 59:2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.
Like verse one says, God does not change because we have sinned. However, our sin nature does cause a separation. This is somewhat similar to Adam and Eve when they were in the Garden of Eden.
Before their sin, they were able to personally walk with God. After the fall, there had to be some degree of separation. God was still there, but they could not keep the exact same relationship.
However, because of what Jesus did, we have a bridge back to reenter a relationship with God.
Joh 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
Er unfortunately did wicked things, and he was punished for them. Sin never leads to anything good, so it is definitely better to try to take sin out of our lives and keep our relationship with God strong.